Corporate communications + Public Relations Adelaide


November 2013

Conference hashtags: don’t forget the people in the room

This week I enjoyed a sensational two days at a conference – and it got me thinking about the evolving use of conference hashtags.

The Public Relations Institute of Australia's national conference, 2013
The Public Relations Institute of Australia’s national conference, 2013

Many conference organisers are becoming quite professional at how they approach Twitter.  In this case, during #PRIA2013, there was a volunteer social media team tweeting coverage for the entire event.

I used to be motivated to share conference coverage to help “the folk who couldn’t make it” keep up with proceedings. Now if the role is already capably filled, I can relax and look for different ways to tweet because:

  • I don’t want to add to the hashtag noise.
  • My efforts are redundant if I’m just repeating the same phrases that the conference team (and other attendees) are sharing. And believe me, people seem to pluck out the same points. It’s remarkable.
  • It frees me up to listen more effectively.

What I prefer to do at conferences like this is:

  • Connect with people using the hashtag. I check their bios and Follow a selection.
  • Interact with the tweetstream. I ask people questions, I ratify what they’ve said, I try to create a conversation.
  • Add my own thoughts rather than just broadcasting the speakers’. I might agree and add another point, I might disagree.
  • Share observations and jokes about the day – usually these are relevant only to the  people physically at the conference. And I want to say IT’S OKAY TO DO THIS. It feels like too many conference hashtags have become about those “folks at home” and not about connecting the people who are in the room. I’d like to think that a tweet from the seminar room can mean meeting someone IRL and continuing the conversation when we’re queuing up for coffee! It does happen.

I’ve shared a bit of my Twitter activity below:

How about you? Have you tried abandoning strict coverage and using Twitter like this at a conference?

Related reading: Twitter 101 series, conference hashtags

Social media: what’s the next big thing?

Today I’m sharing the latest episode of Business Agenda SA (see clip below) and my segment, New Media Jungle.

Business Agenda SA is an Adelaide-produced show featured on Channel 9 on Saturday afternoons. It’s hosted by Cameron England and Belinda Heggen and features a range of fascinating business stories and guests.

In this episode I tackle one of the questions I’m sometimes asked by my audiences when it comes to social media: “What’s the next big thing?”

Watch the clip to hear my views (my segment begins at 19 minutes).  I’d love to hear any comments you have below.


Please head to the official Business Agenda SA website to see more episodes and learn about the program, produced by the talented team at Red Bikini. You can also follow Business Agenda SA on Facebook or Twitter.

How mobile phones and social media followed the same journey

Did you know that once upon a time, there were no such thing as mobile phones? *

I can remember when people started using them – some keen early adopters. Back then in early 1990s Australia, mobiles were awkward, clunky things that were an embarrassment to carry around … but somehow still cool. You could speak to people while you were walking around? Awesome!

Mobile phones & social media - similar journeys
Mobile phones & social media – similar journeys

But at the time, there were a lot of people who said: “I’ll never need a mobile phone. I’ve got a landline. Why would I want people to contact me when I’m out and about? It’s overkill. I have a life.

Eventually of course, many of these people bought a mobile phone.

  • They used their mobiles be more contactable.
  • They used their mobiles to have fun, especially as they developed into smartphones with all the associated games and apps.
  • Those who used mobiles well found it won them new business and helped them keep in touch with the world.

Those who didn’t use mobiles well found little payoff. If you leave the phone switched off, or don’t take your mobile with you when you’re, er, mobile – they won’t deliver the same benefits.

It’s a similar story with social media.

Years ago there were some early adopters. Now there are millions of daily users.

Similarly, there are still some people who question whether they need social media.

“I’ll never need social media. I use email. I use my phone. Why would I want people to contact me on social media? It’s overkill. I have a life.

But as was the case with mobile phones, many of these people will eventually use social media. They may succumb to the peer pressure, as was often the case with a mobile phone. Others will ask you if you have a LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter account and you might be under pressure to get one (or all).

Then you might try social media.

You will probably begin to have fun with it.

You use it to be more contactable.

And you find it actually helps you communicate more effectively. You might use it to win business.

That’s if you’re using it well. If you’re using it sporadically and half-heartedly and don’t respond (as in don’t pick up the phone) then it won’t work for you.

You might then be tempted to criticise social media.

You might scratch your head and wonder what other people see in it.

Maybe it’s because you’re just not using it right.

You haven’t found interesting accounts to follow. You’re not visiting often enough for it to make sense.

But one day you might suddenly get it. And like your smartphone that you can’t leave home without, social media might become an indispensable part of your life, bringing you news, entertainment, friendship and value like no other communications channel.

*yes I’ve heard this analogy before but in my post I’ve dug a little deeper. Hope you enjoy it!

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