How People are using Twitter during Conferences

In my last post I mentioned how useful it can be as a “back channel” for communicating at conferences. A recent Eduserv conference (see here) provides an excellent example of conference twittering (and live broadcasting by SwitchNewMedia, but this is a seperate issue 🙂 ). The Eduserv example shows how twitter allowed delegates and internet viewers to network and communicate about the topics being discussed. Using twitter at conferences relies on each “tweeter” (or should that be twit) using the same “hashtag”. In the Eduserv conference each tweet contained the hashtag “#esym09”. This allows people to view all the tweets that use this tag by searching for it in applications like Twitter Search.

Interestingly, as I was thinking about writing this post I saw a tweet by @sclater about the said paper (“How People are using Twitter during Conferences” – which I re-tweeted and posted to the on-line reference sharing applications (2collab and Citeulike). Using data collected from surveys the authors of the paper provide “evidence on how Twitter can enhance the knowledge of a given group or community by micro-connecting a diverse on-line audience“. Again it is well worth a read and gives a great overview of how twitter can enhance a conference.

Using ‘Twitter’ at conferences

Twitter logoThe following paper “How People are using Twitter during Conferences“.

The paper looks at various aspects of conference microblogging such as motivation and the “value added” of microblogging at conferences.

It also covers some of the practicalities of encouraging this communication channel at conferences (e.g. hashtags etc).

Here are the conclusions in full:

Microblogging at conferences seems to be an additional way of discussing presented topics and exchanging additional information. It is not limited to the face-to-face audience or the location of the conference. Microblogging rather allows virtually anyone to actively participate in the thematic debates. Our research shows that several conference speakers and attendees are using Twitter for various purposes. Communicating and sharing resources seem to be one of the most interesting and relevant ways in which one microblogs. Other microblogging practices in conferences include following parallel sessions that otherwise delegates would not have access to, and/or would not receive such visibility. Content attached to tweets was reported to be mostly limited to plain text and web links.

To further research on microblogging in conferences, we will have to work closely together with organizers of conferences as to better promote microblogging as an information channel directly associated with the event. Sending out links to the survey during or shortly after the conference seems to be a crucial point for later examination, as people have mostly filled out the surveys during the days of the conference.

Reference: Reinhardt, W., Ebner, M., Beham, G. and Costa, C. (2009) How People are using Twitter during Conferences. In V. Hornung-Prähauser and M. Luckmann (Eds.) Creativity and Innovation Competencies on the Web, Proceedings of the 5th EduMedia Conference, St Virgil Conference Centre, Salzburg, Austria. p. 145-156.