‘Twitter friendly’ events


I recently attended Bang the Table’s ‘Pop Up’ Adelaide event and gave a presentation on some thoughts of how we might see face-to-face and online civic engagement becoming more integrated in the future.

My presentation highlighted that even if we don’t see our future civic engagement activity attracting a demographic beyond the usual suspects (we all know who they are), we may see numbers naturally increase due to the ‘baby boomers’ reaching the age we most often see at our face-to-face meetings. Of course, I would LOVE to see a broader demographic take an interest in community life and civic responsibility but as a worst case scenario I think we can be optimistic that numbers at our face-to-face events will grow due to this boom of our usual suspect demographic.

Along with this boom in older people, will come a boom of older people who are technologically savvy. No longer will I be faced with a room full of people who look blankly at me when I ask if they’ve checked in on Facebook, or taken note of the event hashtag. No doubt we’ll be on to something else by then anyway.

But amongst all of this, the Adelaide event triggered some online discussion amongst my fellow South Australian engagement practitioners about how even in today’s technologically savvy world, it can still feel awkward for those of us who like to have a conversation online whilst attending face-to-face events to do so without feeling impolite! Word hasn’t quite spread to everyone yet that the people at an event rapidly typing on their tablets or smartphone aren’t being ignorant or impolite. Far from it. Those people ‘on their phones’ are often sharing the insights from the face-to-face event with a broader online community.  There is a parallel discussion taking place – often accompanied by dialogue and deliberation that includes people unable to attend (recently named #gatehashing by Max Hardy and quickly adopted by Andrew Coulson) as well as bringing together people at the event who might not be able to connect in person due to seating arrangements, time constraints and so on.  It’s awesome!

And on pondering all of this in the Twitter world whilst at the event, the fabulous Valli Morphett asked (on Twitter of course) how we might overcome the barrier of seeming impolite whilst tweeting at events. A discussion ensued that quickly highlighted the potential for holding ‘Twitter friendly’ events. What would would these events involve? Well, some initial thoughts were –

– Clearly displayed signs sharing the #hashtag for the event, along with an explanation of what a hashtag is and why people will be using Twitter
– Large screens showing live tweets for everyone at the event to see
– Having ‘social media etiquette norms’ shared as part of the introduction to the event
– Having table centrepieces with the #hashtag and ‘permission to use phone for tweeting’ sign
– Opportunity to join the conversation for newbies – perhaps real life Tweet buddies to help get you started at the event
– Twitter handles/names incorporated on name badges or attendee lists

As Andrew correctly wrote, he’s sure someone will blog about Twitter friendly events soon. So there, I’ve blogged. But what other things could you do to make an event Twitter friendly?


  • Andrew Coulson January 10, 2013 - 11:22 am Reply

    How about Tweet shelters a kin to smoking areas? 🙂

    • Kylie Johnson January 10, 2013 - 4:03 pm Reply

      Andrew, I’ve actually wondered if the ‘tweeters’ are like the cool journos who used to huddle together outside the newsroom and share gossip!

      I have been at a presentation where I spoke about something confidential and asked everyone to stop tweeting for a second and gained agreement that no one would make it public, and they didn’t.

      I love a big hashtag all the way through the event. I also like free wifi, but who doesn’t.

      I love twitter at conferences, but after a while, realise I don’t always listen properly and begin to retweet other people’s brilliant insights.

      I’ve made some great friends via tweeting at conferences and also met someone better off staying in the twitter sphere and away from me!

      Sometimes it’s a bit like meeting callers when you work in talk radio. Most seem perfectly sane when you talk on the phone but when you meet them, you realise they may not be as sane as you first thought.

      It can be disconcerting for speakers when they’re talking to see people tweeting, but I was at a conference where a poor man in the first row had fallen asleep during the previous speaker’s presentation, and that was much worse.

      Great post Becky!

  • beckyhirst January 10, 2013 - 11:24 am Reply

    Brilliant! I wonder if there might be a demand for tweet-free areas? Like quiet carriages?! I hope not but you never know!

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