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How to Be a Twitter Rock Star at Conferences and Events

April 13, 2013

Introduction

With its 140 character payload and ability to follow hash tags, it seems Twitter was designed for events. For me and many others, participating in Twitter conversations significantly enhances my event experience. I find more, learn more and meet many more people than I otherwise would have. Let’s consider tips that can transform you from a conference tweeter to a Twitter rock star.

How to Gain Visibility

ALWAYS include the conference hash tag.

Do this before you pick up your badge: determine the conference hash tag. It’s usually on the event page or printed on signage at the event. If not, simply ask staffers for it. Include the hash tag in ALL of your tweets. If you don’t, your tweets will not be seen. And if the conference doesn’t have a hash tag, create one yourself and encourage others to use it.

Temporarily place the hash tag in your Twitter profile.

If the hash tag is “#conference2013,” then consider adding something like this in your Twitter profile: “Attending #conference2013 this week. Tweet me if you’re there!” Now, when attendees see your tweets and check out your profile, they’ll be more inclined to follow and interact with you.

Share photos.

Take photos of the keynote session, exhibit floor, signage – basically, anything interesting. Users love them.

Engage with influencers.

Influencers include session speakers, along with knowledgeable and well-followed attendees. Follow them and engage with them. If they reply back to you or RT you, others will be sure to take notice.

How to Gain Followers

Liberally follow others.

I use the Twitterific iPhone app at conferences

Pictured: The Twitterific app for iPhone. I scan for users, view their profiles and follow liberally.

Fellow attendees have at least one thing in common with you (after all, you went to the same event). So wouldn’t they be good people to follow? Follow the folks who are actively tweeting. The follow helps promote your existence. They may miss your insightful conference tweets, but when you follow them, chances are they’ll check out you (and follow back).

Retweet and Interact with others.

Let’s face it, sometimes at a conference, you really just need to focus on the conference itself. You’re sitting in a captivating session and learning a ton of things. You can’t afford to compose a thoughtful tweet. What you can do, however, is quickly scan the tweet stream for others’ insights. Retweet (“RT”) those insights and share your thoughts by replying to some users. Now, quick! Get back to that awesome session.

Quote interesting nuggets from sessions.

Just like you curate (and share) great content on Twitter, your “job” at a conference session is to curate interesting nuggets and quotes. Did the presenter just say something that made the audience go, “Oooh”? If so, quote the presenter via a tweet. You’re likely to get RT’s and follows.

Give shout-outs to exhibitors.

If you visit an exhibitor booth or have lunch with an exhibitor rep, give a shout-out to them (on Twitter). They’ll love it! And they’ll likely tweet you back, follow you, RT you and offer you some nifty conference swag.

General Tips

Always tweet IN CONTEXT.

I once took a photo as I walked into the keynote session. It was a humorous image, tied to the theme of the event and I really wanted to share it. However, once the keynote kicked off, everyone was tweeting about what the presenter was saying. If I tweeted the photo then, it would have been entirely out of context. So I waited. I tweeted the photo during the break, so it could get more visibility.

Facilitate face-to-face meet-ups with other Twitter users.

Another attendee and I tweeted quite frequently at a conference. When I rode the same elevator as her, I recognized her via her Twitter profile photo. I introduced myself and we chatted about the conference (for as long as an elevator ride would permit). “Upgrading” from a Twitter connection to a face-to-face meet-up is a great thing.

Take a break.

This won’t make you a Twitter rock star, but make sure you take adequate breaks from Twitter and enjoy the conference. For highly active Twitter users, there’s a delicate balance that must be managed. You don’t want to be so active on Twitter that you miss out on the great things the conference has to offer (kind of like visiting the Grand Canyon, tweeting too much and missing the view).

For Exhibitors: tweet in context with the sessions.

Let’s say there’s a breakout session on social media marketing and you’re an exhibitor that provides social media marketing software.

The session is scheduled for 2pm. At 2:15pm, issue a tweet such as, “Want a dashboard to manage social media marketing for your entire team? Visit us in booth #127 after the session.” Bonus points if the presenter is talking about dashboards precisely at 2:15pm.

For presenters: share your slides as you go on stage.

Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) was the first (that I’ve seen) to establish this practice. Some presenters provide their slides after their session. Jeremiah provides his slides before or during the session.

Some presenters will schedule a tweet to share their slides as they’re taking the stage (and then mention the fact during their opening segment). Attendees always request the slides, so proactively sharing them is a good practice.

Addendum: Jeremiah provides additional details:

Conclusion

So there you have it. Follow these tips to gain visibility, gain new followers and make new connections at your next conference. Be sure, though, that you’re getting the most out of the conference. Twitter is fantastic, but it can also consume your attention and time and create missed opportunities. Find the right balance and you’ll be rocking the conference in full Twitter style.

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10 Reasons to Skip the Web Site in Favor of Twitter (When Researching a Company)

March 25, 2013

The profile page for Twitter

Exception to the rule: when researching Twitter, you’re more than welcome to visit Twitter.com.

Introduction

Let’s say you’ve never heard of a company before, but want to learn more. You land on the company’s home page and need to answer some rudimentary questions:

  1. What does the company do?
  2. Where are they headquartered?
  3. What’s been going on lately?

You’d typically look for pages such as “Contact,” “About Us,” and “News” and perhaps you’d get some answers. Lately, I skip those pages and simply look for the Twitter icon (which 90+% of companies have). Visiting their Twitter profile tells me everything I need to know.

Let’s consider ten reasons to skip the web site in favor of a company’s Twitter profile.

1) Character limit increases clarity.

What does a company do? On an “About Us” page, they have an unlimited amount of space. The description on your Twitter profile has a limit of 160 characters. As with tweets, the economy of characters forces you to be simple and efficient. The description on a company’s Twitter profile is far better than the text on their “About Us” page.

2) A picture is worth a thousand words.

Photos posted to Twitter by @VirginAmerica

Photo source: the profile page of @VirginAmerica.

Twitter’s profile page displays six of the company’s most recently posted photos (in thumbnail size). These images helps paint a picture of the company and are more personal (i.e. “real”) compared to what they might post on their web site.

3) Find out where they’re based (right away).

I like to know where a company is based. On some web sites, you’ll get a “Contact Us” page, but no physical address. You might have to navigate to the Press Releases page and find out where the releases were issued from. It’s all too hard. The Twitter profile asks for “Location” and most companies list their headquarters’ location. Just what I need.

4) Find related Twitter accounts.

Other Twitter handles from Constant Contact

Photo source: the profile page of @ConstantContact.

Companies will use separate Twitter accounts for assorted functions (e.g. customer support). Sometimes, knowing about these additional accounts can be useful.

5) Now what do you REALLY do?

McAfee's Twitter profile

Companies that sell complex products can lose us when they begin to describe just what it is they do. The first instance of jargon brings with it the potential for confusion. The description (above) by McAfee doesn’t go into detail on products or solutions. But it’s an elegant and simple statement that we can all understand.

6) What have you been up to lately?

Read a company’s five most recent tweets. More often than not, you’ll have your answer. Here’s an example of a recent tweet from @Bunchball:

7) What’s your “social persona”?

A company’s Twitter profile can tell a lot about their approach to social. Consider these questions you can ask:

  1. Do they follow back?
  2. Do they retweet others?
  3. Do they interact with other users via “@ mentions”?
  4. Do they post photos?
  5. Do they share others’ content, in addition to their own?

8) View creative images you won’t see on the web site.

I love seeing the creativity used by some companies in their Twitter profiles. When Twitter launched header images (to complement your photo), it unleashed a torrent of creativity. Check out the image combination from @Ford:

Ford's Twitter profile - love that steering wheel

9) What’s your personality and culture like?

A company’s tweets tell us about their employees and their culture. In addition, the Twitter account embodies an answer to the question, “hey company, what’s on your mind?” And that’s something social media provides that a web site cannot.

10) Are you following me?

OK, I had to add this one as a form of “Twitter vanity.” If you’re checking out a company and they’re already following you, make sure you follow them back (if you’re not already doing so)!


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