10 lessons from the Silicon Cape Launch in using Twitter at a conference.

Silicon Cape
08 Oct 2009

The Silicon Cape launch this morning provided a great case study on a positive and productive use of Twitter. During the morning #SiliconCape was a trending topic on Twitter, worldwide. Both delegates, and people who were not able to attend discussed points, broadcast ideas and generally made their voice heard.

If you want to add Twitter to the marketing mix of your next event, here are ten factors to manage:

1. Define the conference hashtag (#name) and a conference twitter account (@name) as early as possible so that the details are communicated to delegates from their first interaction. The Motivation Show in Chicago last week never got traction on Twitter because (in part) three different hashtags were being used by delegates.

2. Communicate the hashtag in all the media you use (e.g. web, email, posters) as well as on Twitter. We understand that less than 10% of Twitter users tweet regularly. Many of your conference delegates may need to be shaken and stirred into activity. Include an explanation for newbies.

3. Ask for people’s Twitter names when they pre-register and use them to follow your attendees before the event. If they follow you then you have another open channel for communication.

4. Print Twitter names on delegates name badges. No-one needs the event name in big type on the badge. We know where we are! Use that for Twitter-introductions. One of the reasons to go to an event like the launch of Silicone Cape is to “put faces to tweets”.

5. Ensure that the venue is gadget friendly. That means lots of power points for laptops (and ideally tables to sit at) as well as wi-fi. Both were provided today, although not enough points to satisfy all the delegates. Build the cost of these services into the event fee.

6. Have a live Twitter stream posted for everyone to see. The Silicon Cape launch team did a great job today of displaying tweets on screen both outside the hall where we were registering and chatting, as well as inside the venue. There are a number of applications custom-written for this use. Some scroll permanently which have a way of making the delegates feel sea-sick. Today’s version displayed 12 tweets per screen and randomly replaced older tweets as new ones arrived. Made for a hop-skip to read, but better than the scrolling versions, I’d say. Ensure the font size is large enough. I was close to the front of the room. Could people at the back actually read the tweets?

7. During the presentations, plan when to display the live tweets, and when to remove them from the screen. The organizers of Silicon Cape did a great job today by not allowing the tweets to interfere with the speakers – but to add to the morning by introducing them as a question-generating device during the panel discussion. Laurie Olivier who chaired the panel discussion is an excellent Twitter MC because he used both the tweets, as well as the people who wanted to talk in public, to generate the panel discussion.

8. If you want to use Twitter as an energising factor at a conference, ensure that you have regular Twitter users at the event, ready, willing and able to tweet. Enough delegates need the technology as well as the aptitude to tweet. You’ll pick this up at pre-registration. Only two delegates give you their Twitter names? Don’t bother with the live stream!

9. Invite the media and bloggers is your field to attend and report from the event. They will be providing live content that tweeters will reference and pass along. Frequently they are active tweeters themselves, and will add to the volume.

10. After the event, use your conference Twitter name and hashtag for post-event communications. It’s ideal for an event like the launch of Silicon Cape where today’s conference was the beginning. The tweeting will live on. Searching to see who was tweeting using your conference hashtag will also give you, the event organizer, a good idea of who is interested in the subject. Now you can engage in a conversation.