Gartner Blog Network

Using Twitter at Events and Conferences

by Jeffrey Mann  |  October 6, 2009  |  23 Comments

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.

Category: events  microblogging  symposium  twitter-vendors  

Jeffrey Mann
Research VP
20 years with Gartner and META Group
30 years IT industry

Jeffrey Mann is a Research VP at Gartner, covering cloud office, collaboration and social software.

Thoughts on Using Twitter at Events and Conferences

  1. […] the original here: Using Twitter at Events and Conferences Share and […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gary Meadows. Gary Meadows said: UPDATE: Using Twitter at Events and Conferences: We have been experimenting with using Twitter at severa.. […]

  3. […] View post:  Using Twitter at Events and Conferences […]

  4. Timo Elliott says:


    I’m a frequent presenter (for SAP BusinessObjects), and I’ve recently been trying out ways of making presentations more interactive with Twitter, including letting the audience vote via tweets. I ended up posting the tools I’ve been using online, if anybody else is interested in using them:

    It’s a downloadable PowerPoint deck with the tools pre-embedded: a real-time ticker feed, a feedback slide, and several voting slides.

    They’re free to use, and there’s no signup, etc. — the only “catch” is a small SAP logo in the lower-right-hand corner (I used an SAP BusinessObjects product, Xcelsius, to build them)

    Regards, Timo

  5. Eric Feistel says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Thank you for the best practices on Twittering at conferences. This is great stuff.

    Something you may find of interest is an article I recently co-authored with one of my colleagues about our recent Twitter experience at the ILTA 2009 Conference in Washington DC during August 2009. Lots of examples from the event are highlighted, and they seem to mirror some of the things you mention here. Overall, we tied in this trend with a move towards virtual conferences, including for example greater use of video interviews.

    Here is the URL for the blog post:

    Best Regards,


  6. Jeffrey Mann says:

    Thanks for those tips. They sound really cool. I’ll take a look at them the first chance I get.

  7. Danny Johnson says:

    ILTA 09 was definitely a conference where live tweeting showed its value as many in the industry that were not able to attend were paying attention to the tweets of those in attendance (such as @vmaryabraham and @lawyerKM).

    At NetDocuments we decided to experiment a bit and ran a Twitter contest during the conference. The contest was good however, it was difficult to enlist the non-twitter users to sign up. A few did but most of the contest traffic was from existing tweeters.

    As twitter continues to grow and as conference attendees get used to the presence of twitter at these shows, I foresee more innovative uses of Twitter to add another dimension to such events.

  8. […] Using Twitter at Events and Conferences […]

  9. Jay Fry says:

    As you and some of the other posters have said, tweeting can add a lot to conferences. Tweeting every word the keynote presenters say is certainly not helpful, but the particularly enlightening things are great to share. Snap commentary is good, but should always be taken as just that – a quick impression.

    I’ve tweeted from a number of conferences and found the best thing about it for those on-site is improving the “backchannel” connections of those attending. Organizers can do a bunch of things with it, too, but should remember it’s NOT exclusively a broadcast mechanism.

    I wrote up some of my thoughts as a show attendee tweeting at VMworld recently here: “7 ways Twitter improves an IT conference. And 2 ways it makes it worse” :


  10. […] Using Twitter at Events and Conferences16 hours ago by Jeffrey Mann  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, … – […]

  11. filmview says:

    I agree jay fry

  12. Jeffrey Mann says:

    Like anything worth doing, Tweeting is best when done well. Since it is a pretty new phenomenon, there is less agreement about what “Tweeting well” really means. But sharing experiences like Jay Fry and Danny Johnson have will help. Thank you.

  13. Rachel Resnick says:

    As the official tweeter for the @threebythesea conference of east medical librarians that ended yesterday, I thank you for your insights. It looks like I did most of your best practices. Didn’t have the opportunity for a tweetup, and I’m not sure whether or how the organizers will archive the tweets, but I think the tweeters did a nice job. I’d like to add:
    Make sure your twitter name is available: we had to modify ours after discovering the one we wanted was taken. Make sure your hashtag hasn’t been used by another group, or people searching for your tweets will get a lot of false hits. Find out who tweeters will be beforehand and ensure that all concurrent sessions are covered. Next time, I’ll remember to do that last one.

  14. For a striking example of live tweeting and its implications for presenters, see the account of a keynote address at the recent Higher Education Web Conference on my blog.

    I wasn’t there; in fact, I’d never heard of the organization till I saw it mentioned in my tweet stream. The bottom line: a presenter out of tune with participants, a flood of tweets, and the phenomenon of the harshtag.

    A follow-up post gives analysis, further details, and links to posts by participants.

  15. Michael says:

    We have integrated Twitter in our virtual event platform and have made the experience that users get a lot more pro-active with this feature.

    Details about our platform can be found at


  16. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ubivent, Michael. Michael said: Twitter mit @ubivent Plattform für virtuelle Messen integriert. Hier ein Artikel wie Twitter mit Events kombiniert wird: […]

  17. […] Using Twitter at Events and Conferences (tags: twitter conference) […]

  18. Only a few months back my company finished work on a new product for presenting twitter content (tweets) to a large screen. Way more than ‘web browser on a stick’ we have developed a two-part application suite designed to be robust in a live environment with full moderation capabilities. The first outing for the system was Eddie Izzard’s Stripped Tour (UK, Europe and USA 2009/2010). Please get in touch if you have other applications on +44 (0) 1438 360 058.

  19. I have put together a tutorial on how to log tweets after or during events to create an archive of event activity for later viewing. Check it out:

  20. […] been able to follow goings-on at conferences I have not been able to go to, and experienced real world conferences in different and deeper ways. I have met people I didn’t know before in far off countries, […]

  21. Mikhail says:

    You can try this tool:
    It very simple, have no problems to show big amount updated tweets and have functions to block spam and users.

  22. One issue with using twitter at conferences is that most people will do posts that are of more interest to their own followers rather than other delegates.

    That’s why we developed to help conference organisers set up a social network which is limited to just delegates. It makes for a much better conversation!

  23. […] Gartner – Jeffrey Mann gives excellent advice on how to use Twitter throughout the event planning process. He sets out a timeline of when to begin tweeting, tells us how to engage and include followers, and talks about how to best use the platform in order to highlight key moments from your event. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.