Sunday, October 16, 2016

How to exploit Twitter for documenting a conference - and what to avoid

About ten days ago ago, I attended a two-day event (the COPA COGECA Congress of European Farmers 2016) during which I was tweeting using the Twitter account of one of the organizers of the event (our @GAIA_Brussels one). Everything was properly set up and there was a hashtag (#DynamicAgri) to be used in all tweets made during the event which was properly communicated to the participants. Through a coordinated action between the social media people of the different organizing bodies, we managed to have a relatively high number of tweets with the specific hashtag, describing the progress and outcomes of the congress. This can be used as a reference in the future and can also be visualized in different ways (see for example the Storify board we created for this purpose). It should be noted that the specific hashtag is used by COPA COGECA in various instances so it was not unique; however, this allowed all tweets made during these days to be linked ans on top of that, all these to be part of COPA COGECA's more general timeline.

The next day was the 3rd Panhellenic Congress on the Development of Greek agriculture, organized by GAIA Epicheirein. Since we wanted to have a bilingual coverage of the event (English and Greek), we had two people (one of them was me again!) tweeting at the same time - along with the rest of the participants of course - in these two languages. The first thing we did was to define the hashtag of the Congress (#GAIACongress16) so that we could "link" all tweets made during the Congress and also to make sure that all participants were aware of the hashtag - so we just added it on the slide that was projected before and during the breaks of the Congress. Again we were successful in documenting the event through Twitter and this documentation can also be used as a reference in the future or visualized in different ways (see for example the Storify board we created for the specific event).

On the other hand, some days ago, NEUROPUBLIC's Chairman attended a global conference (in fact he was invited to talk about smart farming in one of the round tables). Despite the fact that there was a Conference hashtag promoted the days before the event, I soon realized that it was not actually used by the participants of the Conference - not even by the organizer (it was a 50-50 chance for them to use it, based on my calculations). As I was trying to figure out what was going on during the event, I contacted the organizers through Twitter asking them to use the hashtag that they had already proposed; however, I got no response. As a result, I spent some time during the Conference trying to collect bits and pieces from the participants that tweeted (added them to a Twitter list) in order to keep up with the outcomes of the event. I soon gave up, as I realized that some of them either stopped tweeting or were tweeting only about their / their organization's participation in the event and it was challenging to find out who else was tweeting during the event. As if this was not enough, the same hashtag was already being used for totally different purposes like sports and fashion; a fact that led to "noise" in the specific Twitter timeline and made following the progress almost impossible.... 

Preparation is the key: not only you have to come up with a proper (and unique) hashtag about an event, but you also have to properly communicate it before and during the event to the participants (physical and remote) and make sure that it is actually used. It does take some effort to prepare things in the right way, but then implementation is easier for everyone and the results will make up for it.