When I speak about social media at conferences, I start by saying I love social media because it is like a conference. Social media during a conference is like a conference within a conference. Whoa – that’s like INCEPTION.
Here is my guide to conferencing on Twitter:
1) Get an App
The native Twitter app on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry is fine. If you are updating multiple Twitter accounts (your personal account, your organization/school/department account, &/or your alter ego account) you might want to try Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Seesmic. Yes, Twitter is nice from the comfort of your laptop, but you’ve got to be ready to tweet on the go at conferences.
2) Don’t be Private.
Yes, this is a personal choice, but to maximize conferencing you’ll want people to know that you’re there. Tweeting with a private account only means your current friends will see what you are posting.
3) Tweet with the Hashtag
Often conferences will be promoting the hashtag they would like people to follow. At the 2011 AFA Annual Meeting the hashtag that has been promoted is #AFA2011AM. (And yes, I do think it is kind of awkward to go back and forth between alpha-number-alpha, but go with it.)
4) Follow the Hashtag
In your app – set up a search for #AFA2011AM. Now you can see what conversations are taking place around the conference.
5) Connect with New People on Twitter
Conferences are about the people you meet. One of my favorite things about Twitter is the ability to make new friends. You can do this online and offline. Connect with others Tweeting about the Conference!
6) Check Conference Name Tag / Flair for Twitter Handle
It isn’t uncommon for people to have their Twitter name (@hust0058) next to their real name on conference name tags. Sometimes vendors, sponsors, or the conference itself provides stickers or buttons for people to write down their “Twitter names”.
7) Meet Tweeps
Tweep? Twitter people. Meet the people you’ve been chatting with online but haven’t had the chance to meet in real life.
8 ) Retweet Others
It feels good to get Retweeted. Someone likes what you’ve got to say! Give that feeling to others by sharing interesting or intriguing comments.
9) Mention People
Conversations can happen online. Give people feedback on their perspective.
10) Add to the Discussion
Share a link to a relevant article, book, or news.
11) Take a Picture
A Tweet is worth 140 characters. A picture is worth 1000 words. And that takes me to my next point.
12) Be Professional
You are who you are. Online and off. This is a reflection of your personal brand – what I’ve dubbed your “Living Resume”. Some people like to complain online – some people like to complain in person. I encourage you to be like-able and friendly. Those are the people that draw a following in real life as well.
13) Facebook Friendly Tweets
Sometimes you’ll want to share a Tweet on Facebook. Facebook users tend not to like “@username” and “#hashtag” popping up in their news feed. Think about what you share from Twitter to Facebook.
14) LinkedIn Friendly Tweets
Not every Tweet needs to be on LinkedIn. I recommend keeping the tweets you share to LinkedIn professionally oriented.
15) Follow New Tweeps
Like what someone has to say – give them a follow. That way you’ll learn more about what the person has to say. It is also a great way to keep up with conference friends year-round.
16) Consider Not Spamming All Your Followers
Pro Tip: if your Tweet starts with a Twitter handle “@username” only your followers that also follow that account will see the tweet in their stream. When I spoke at the NACA Mid America Meeting, I often started tweets with @thenacamam (their username) to not bombard my followers with constant content they might not be interested in. Using the conference handle or the username of the presenter can be effective.
17) Follow Lots of New Tweeps
Use http://www.followblast.com to follow everyone Tweeting a certain hashtag.
18) Build A List
Really like a group of people that know a lot about Social Justice or Fraternity Recruitment? Start a list to follow those users. A good example is the one that I created of all the NIC Member Fraternities (http://twitter.com/#!/nicfraternity/nic-fraternities). Other people can then follow your lists (or you can keep them private).
19) Direct Messaging Is An Option: Use It
Direct Messages are available if someone follows you on Twitter. This is one of the reasons I encourage people and organizations to follow back. Sometimes conversations aren’t necessary in public. Know when you need to take something offline or keep it between the two of you. — Or just keep it of Twitter and Text instead if you have their cell.
20) Be A Connector
Introduce your Twitter friends to other Twitter friends. You can do that in person – or on Twitter. You decide.
21) Cite Your Quotes
Give some Twitter love to those that give you something good to Tweet about by adding their Twitter handle following the quote.
22) Tweet Concisely
You get 140 characters to Tweet. Keep them under 120 characters or less to make yours more “Retweet-able”.
Sometimes TweetUps are organized. These can be fun meetups with other Twitter users. There’s one scheduled during the #AFA2011AM, too. See you there.
There are grammar police. Your/You’re. Than/Then. And then there is that awkward autocorrect…
25) Be Polite!
While it is fun to Tweet and engage online, be mindful of when you are doing it. Online experiences can and should enhance the relationships in person – not come at the expense of the in person moments. Try your best to be in the moment and enjoy the company of the people that you get to see (in person) but once a year.
If you’ve found this tips helpful – you can click here to sign up for my email list with other tricks, tips and advice to help your and your organization manage social media more effectively.