Anyone who knows me (or has had the misfortune of reading my Twitter feed when I’m attending a conference) knows it’s a tweetapalooza. When I first started tweeting and attending conferences, I found that if I could download my tweets after the event, there wasn’t a real need to take notes. For me, the tweets became my notes (and I write a lot of them!)
So I thought I would share a few tips for how I tweet at conferences, in case it is useful to anyone.
Top 10 Tips for Tweeting at Conferences
1. Warn your followers. Before the event, mention to people that you’ll be tweeting from it, and even that they can temporarily block you if they don’t want to read it all right now. Since you may clutter their Twitter feed, it’s just polite. (And don’t get offended if someone unfollows you because of it. They have every right to, if your content isn’t of interest.)
2. Use the event hashtag. For example, #ACCELERATE, #eMetrics, etc. Twitter hashtags group content by topic and will allow others to read your tweets, along with others attending the event.
3. Cite your source. Where possible, mention the source of the tweet content – the speaker. For example, “Blah blah something super insightful @speakersname #conferencename.” (If they don’t have a Twitter username, it’s up to you whether you include their name in the tweet. It can be helpful for those not attending to know who said what, but there is also, of course, a character limit that may restrict you.)
4. Bring your laptop. It is much easier to type tweets on a real keyboard than on a smartphone or tablet.
5. Monitor the conference hashtag. Use a Twitter client that updates the conference hashtag, so you can keep an eye on what others are tweeting about the event. Sometimes you may miss something, and it’s good to see if there’s anything you missed. (For example, I use HootSuite on a normal day, but use TweetDeck at conferences, because it will update the conference stream in almost real time.)
6. Make tweets informative and include context. Don’t just rush to tweet something first, if it’s incomplete. Make sure that what you are sharing actually makes sense to someone who is not sitting at the conference. After all, the people who are there don’t really need to read your tweets – they’re hearing it live. You need to ensure you keep context in your tweets so that those who couldn’t make the event can follow.
7. Keep it concise. Your content is more likely to get retweeted if you keep them short enough to allow characters to retweet. However – if you need to balance context (see #5) with characters for retweets, focus on making tweets longer but informative vs. shorter and useless. (Don’t forget, people can always do a “new school retweet” vs. the in-line “RT-style” retweet.)
8. Don’t forget to talk to people! Sure, it’s great to share insights from the conference with Twitter, but take time to put down the computer and meet people at the event too.
9. Share! If you’re going to go to the trouble of tweeting, be sure to make your tweets available to people after the event, in case they didn’t have a chance to read on the day. (After all, they will only be available for at most a week via Twitter itself, before they drop off the face of the earth.) Better yet, download the archive of the entire hashtag, so that people can download more than just your tweets. (It can be tough to find ways to do this these days. The most luck I’ve had is with The Archivist desktop version, which is available for PC only – and which I’m certain will stop working in the not too distant future!)
2013 Update: The good news is, Twitter now allows you to download your Twitter archive! This makes it easy to download your historical tweets, pull out those to the conference hashtag and share with others.
10. Wrap up the event afterwards. Don’t just bombard Twitter during the event itself. Consider your tweets (or the entire conference hashtag) as your notes, and be sure to wrap up your “top take homes” or other blog post, article etc afterwards, to share with others.
Anything I missed? Feel free to add your tips in the comments!