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

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Nice post Michelle. I love to engage with a conference using social media. If I am there it is a great way to connet with attendees (especially as an introvert) and if it’s a conference I can’t get to then I can get great info without having to leave the office.

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