Is live-Tweeting overrated?
That’s the question my friend Ben Greenzweig, Momentum Event Group, asked the LME group this morning. And, with multiple people live-tweeting the same sessions at a conference, I can understand why he’s raised the question.
Not too shockingly, many of us have an opinion, and a conversation has begun so head over to the Facebook group to participate fully.
I think many people look at Twitter as a disruptor or distracting from the speaker, as opposed to a tool. They find it rude that someone is tap, tap, tapping away and not listening.
I’ll argue that those people 1) have never tried it, and 2) are not following the conversations on Twitter.
So what are those of us who live-tweet getting out of it?
LMA president Tim Corcoran‘s reasons began as personal, and then evolved:
When I began tweeting from events. It wasn’t to serve the masses or generate a following, it was a convenient way to take permanent notes. The short tweets mirrored what I had been capturing, with my head down, on my notepad for years. I tend now to tweet things others may also find interesting and in return I hope others do the same for events I cannot attend live.*
My answer, obviously, is no. I don’t find it to be overrated.
In addition to being how I take my notes, I find I am more engaged when I am tweeting. Meeting new people. And usually end up meeting the speakers (if they check the twitter feed) and having deeper conversations on the topic.
As a conference organizer, live-tweeting, to me, is not just about today’s event, but it is a marketing opportunity for the next event.
With an active and engaged Twitterverse the energy carries on for days, and not just about the sessions, but about the networking. From your computer you are seeing people connect and engage, as well as highlighting the educational opportunities. From your desktop or mobile device, you can’t help but realize that you are missing out on something.
As a speaker I find it to be an immediate feedback tool:
It’s also an honest/live evaluation. No tweets. They found you boring and with nothing to say. If you suck they will say so. Lots of tweets = good information to pass along.
As a moderator I am able to engage the audience, both live and online, during the Q&A, and also to help me pose a question to the panel during the session:
As a moderator, or panelist, I watch the Twitter feed. Great way to manage questions from the audience. And I always try and pull one from the Twitterverse.
But a conversation is no fun without a debate. John Byrne, co-chair of the 2014 LMA Annual Conference, challenges us as conference attendees:
… whatever happened to an audience member simply raising his/her hand to ask a question? If you’re “virtually” attending, then Twitter is a great way to engage speakers (and maybe the only way). But if you’re in the room, then participate the old-fashioned way. It’s just better and, I daresay, more respectful. And even potentially more disruptive than any other way.
As a moderator, you need to do both.
But when 8 hands go up, the moderator has no control over what those people might ask. This way, your question rises up out of the crowd.
And, let’s face it, how many times has a “question” turned into someone wanting to be the fourth panelist?
Ann Lee Gibson, a leading consultant to law firms and legal marketers, also touches on human nature, and how Twitter is a great buffer:
… adult education research addresses that and related questions. Webinars used in distance-learning have been found to elicit more questions from adults (young or old ones) than classroom IRL does. For various reasons, e.g., feeling intimidated, shy, or “stupid,” or fear of group politics and peer or teacher reprisals, personality typing, etc. many simply won’t ask their questions or volunteer much IRL. Fact of life.
Personally, I have found my conference experience so much more rewarding since the advent of Twitter. Who can forget my brilliant post recapping the 2010 LMA Annual Conference, Me, Twitter, LMA and Laura (Gutierrez) Toledo? It’s still true today.
Social media made my conference. I was part of a community within a community via Twitter. In 140 characters or less, I was connecting with people I really didn’t know too well. We were having a “conference within a conference” and we were growing as the hours went by. The absolutely incredible part is that the Twitter community wasn’t limited to those in Denver, people were joining in from their desktops across cyberspace.
I think the best thing a conference organizer can do is use social media to capture and engage attendees. By doing so, you introduce people, and provide them a platform to engage. They in turn engage their followers, creating more opportunities – via the conference CONTENT – for conversations.
So a few tips for those live-tweeting:
- Let the speaker know that you are live-tweeting prior to the program beginning.
- Use the conference hashtag on every tweet.
- Sit at the blogger/social media table (if provided). Or to the side as to not distract the speakers.
- Follow the conference hashtag while tweeting, retweeting or commenting on other perspectives.
- Take the time to follow everyone who is using and engaging with the conference hashtag. You are networking, here.
- Don’t use this time to battle with trolls, or bash speakers.
- Use this time to provide thanks and praise.
- If the stream is full, bow out and let others lead. Retweet their content, or take the opportunity to write a short blog post instead.
So, we’ll see you at #LMA14 in a few weeks, live and local in Orlando or on Twitter. And please join us over on the conference LinkedIn group as well.
* All quotes with permission from the Legal Marketers Extraordinaire Group on Facebook.