Event Camp Vancouver (#ECV11) Thoughts–Twitter

Does Twitter really add much if you’re where the news is happening?

I had the pleasure of attending the Event Camp in Vancouver and came away invigorated and encouraged. I found a group of thoughtful, smart people interested in sharing ideas and knowledge. From my perspective, Event camp was a successful demonstration into how we, as event and meeting producers, can have a greater impact on audiences by making the meeting experience different —by searching for best practices that integrate new media and new technologies to aid both collaboration and communication.

This was my first foray into the world of Twitter. I’ve been skeptical for a long time, about how useful twitter really is in the meeting context. I am still not convinced it’s for me personally. I found about only about 20% of the tweets actually contributed to the dialogue and of that 20%, only about 10% was of interest to me. That’s 2% of the traffic. The mental focus and time required to sort and digest these streams was not insignificant. As a ‘Main Tent’ attendee, I found the rewards didn’t outweigh the intrusion. I got more from the experience when I was disengaged from the stream and focused on the conversation in the room.

But, I saw how Twitter enabled dialogue between remote and the live site attendees, enriching the depth of understanding and the quality of the experience for those not physically present. It extended to conversation to a potentially huge audience and it created a potentially valuable artifact of the event.

There was one channel,  #ECV11, that captured the meeting traffic and there seemed to be four types of tweets in two groups:

Information:

Reporting
Commentary

Community Building

Spreading the word
Strengthening connections

As I said, a huge amount of traffic was not for me. Just like “reply all” drives us crazy, retweets seem to do the same. For heavy RT users, there should be another place to go. I’d call personal promotion and all RT traffic as solidly in the community-building realm. I would have preferred 2 channels of information: #EVC11 and #ECV11Chat, to make filtering easier.

We were lucky that we had a reporter who did a great job of summarizing conversation streams and making fast sorting easier. I’d consider having both designated reporter and knowledgeable commentator for information and activity heavy events.

Although I was just lurking, the chat components quickly brought the twitter-engaged community together into one space. The camaraderie that developed was obvious and seeing it post event, many of the connections made in that space seem to have great value.

I came away thinking that I still wouldn’t integrate twitter into a meeting unless there was a significant remote site component. If there was, I’d bring in a reporter and possibly a commentator to create content and I’d encourage that side chat happen in a side space.


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