We have been experimenting with using Twitter at several of the recent Gartner events. I have the most experience with the PCC conference in London, but have also been watching what has happened at the recent CRM, Enterprise Architecture and BPM conferences.
I started to collect some of the best practices we have found to use in a research note, but since not many of our customers organize conferences like this, I figured it would have limited relevance. That’s what blogs are for.
Best practices for tweeting at events
A few weeks before the event, start tweeting about the event using the #hashtag you want to use. That establishes the hashtag so that you don’t have people trying all kinds of different ones. At Garter, we have established the convention of using #gartner plus a two or three letter abbreviation for each conference. For example, the upcoming Symposium events will use #gartnersym while #GartnerPCC was used for the Portal, Content and Collaboration conferences. We don’t differentiate the location or year in the hashtag, since it is kind of fun to see these as a rolling event across time and space.
Use Tweetdeck or some other client app to monitor mentions of the event’s hashtag. You can set up a search panel that automatically displays new tweets with that text.
If someone says something cool, retweet it.
During the keynote or sessions you can see, quote what is interesting, and always add the hashtag
Tweet any interesting trends or non-confidential insights from customers.
If someone complains about something minor, respond to them (too cold in the meeting rooms, where is the veggie lunch…)
If someone has a major complaint or wants to challenge what is said in a presentation, engage them if you feel like it, but don’t let the discussion descend into a long argument.
Publicize events happening on the show floor, mention room changes or extra sessions, encourage people to sign up for 1on1s, especially if they are filling up.
Organize a tweetup: meet other Twitterers at a certain time, preferably when there is an open bar. It’s a nice way to put faces to @names.
Consider displaying a rolling list of tweets on a display in the hallways.
Displaying tweets during a presentation is trickier. It works in some situations where the speaker is prepared for it, but it can be very distracting to be reading with one eye while trying to say cogent things delivered in an engaging way. If a non-speaker is moderating the session or will be posing questions, they should monitor the twitter stream for comments or questions.
Save some of the best Tweets and display them in the locknote, if there is one, or collect them in a blog post
Look here for more tips on live tweeting.