There’s a lot of discussion now around how Twitter can be used at events. It gets even more interesting when the people on stage try to use it to monitor the reactions to what they’re saying. Jeremiah Owyang discussed his own experience as a moderator at Web 2.0 where Twitter helped him gauge audience feedback, leading to a quicker shift to audience Q&A.
I used Twitter last week at the SMX Social Media event when I was a speaker on a panel. I was the third of three speakers to present, and as the presentations were 15-20 minutes each, I had a chance to tweet some quick reports about the other speakers’ talks while interacting with the audience (generally people I was already following at the show). It felt a little wrong to be tapping away on the mobile phone during the panel, but it also gave me a new way to connect with people in the audience.
I’m more intrigued by the idea of monitoring Twitter while moderating. The best way will be by monitoring a search engine; Jeremiah told me Tweet Scan is mobile-friendly. Jeremiah and I emailed a bit about this; here are a few other thoughts that he welcomed me posting here:
People are more honest on Twitter, saying how they really feel, both good
and bad. But often they tend to act like jerks, where they would never say it
in real life.
I surprised a few people that were tweeting about ME while I was on stage. As I
called out what they said (but didn’t say who it was from, as I didn’t want to
be a jerk) the tone immediately changed.
At a minimum, a speaker or mod should monitor the back channel, but keep the
focus on those on stage.
- Speaking solo, well that’s very, very tough to monitor, and one should enlist
someone to watch on their behalf, and use hand signals, or take a Twitter break
after 15 minutes or so (Robert Scoble does this).
It still can be tough to monitor Twitter even if you’re on a panel. When the discussion is really interactive and it’s flowing, you don’t want to lose the flow. But it’s also possible that the flow you’re so wrapped up in isn’t resonating with the audience, whether it’s over their heads or just a lot of blather. A point person in the audience can help.
I do want to try out new ways of using Twitter to be a better moderator and panelist though. I’ll have a few opportunities coming up. While my next event at the Magazine Publishers of America tomorrow is so intimate that I don’t anticipate needing Twitter (and I doubt the crowd’s the right fit for it), Digital Hollywood next week looks more promising as at least a few people in the room should be tweeting. I’ll also be curious to check it out during MediaPost’s Search Insider Summit, which is designed to be especially conversational this year. I just created a Twitter channel for it at SISummit (you can view my upcoming events here; I’m also on dopplr to share travel schedules).
If you’ve used Twitter at an event, share your experience in the comments, whether you were on stage, or you were in the audience when someone on stage used it, or you were in the audience communicating with others in the room.