Professional Organizer Training
Conferences & Social Media
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had the honor of hearing from Certified Meeting Professional Elizabeth Glau about various topics. Today Elizabeth is back with some insight about the way Twitter is being used by conference attendees to communicate with each other and with conference organizers as part of our Professional Organizer Training Series.
It was only a few years ago that people started using Twitter at conferences to connect with each other, share what they were learning and give feedback to conference organizers.
At the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) World Education Congress (WEC) in July 2009, we were asked for our Twitter name on the registration form for the event. I had been reluctant to join Twitter up until that point. When I saw that on the registration form, I didn’t want to miss out on any of the education at the event, so I signed up for Twitter, then signed up for WEC. They did a great job of providing one-on-one training in an area of the conference where you could go at any time. I started to get the hang of it and am very glad that I was given a good foundation on how to use Twitter to network and learn about topics important to my professional development. If your audience is multi-generational, you might want to consider providing this type of education to your attendees so your Gen Xers and Baby Boomers don’t get left behind.
On Twitter, I have connected to and become better acquainted with many people who live in different parts of the world. I found a few Twitter mentors whom I could emulate, and quickly found people who were tweeting interesting and educational things. In the beginning, I mostly re-tweeted things I liked sent out by people I was following. Then, I learned how to use a hashtag to see tweets from other event professionals (i.e. #eventprofs or #mpi). Most of them have their blog, Web Site or LinkedIn profile listed on their Twitter profile so you can click over to it to learn more about them. You can follow big brands and celebrities, but they won’t follow you back and you will quickly lose interest. If you follow real people who are tweeting good content and engaging with others on Twitter, you will have a much better experience. If you want more people to follow you, make sure you say something interesting in the bio section of your Twitter profile.
By the time WEC 2010 came around, I had a year of Twitter under my belt. I had been using it on my laptop and smart phone at smaller conferences and other meetings. It takes some practice, but you can get the hang of taking a learning “nugget” from a speaker and quickly turning it into 140 characters. By doing this, you are sharing what you are learning with the people who are following you. At larger conferences, someone will inevitably organize a tweet-up and everyone that has been tweeting from the conference will then meet in person. This is an excellent way to extend your professional network.
In addition to sharing content presented by the speakers, Twitter is a conference evaluation tool. The attendees will comment on the food, technical difficulties, maybe even the temperature in the room. If you as a conference organizer are monitoring the Twitter feed (i.e. #wec10), there may be issues which you can remedy immediately. Otherwise, you may not get this feedback until after the conference. The feedback you get from your evaluation forms is directly related to the questions you ask, whereas Twitter feedback is exactly what your attendees are thinking, while they are thinking it – whether good or bad! Your audience will increasingly expect you to be paying attention to what they are tweeting.
Elizabeth’s experience includes hotel catering, sales and operations as well as meeting planning and marketing for non-profit organizations. Elizabeth earned the Certified Hospitality Sales Professional (CHSP) designation in 2003 and the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation in 2006. A member of the Ohio, San Diego, and Southern California chapters of Meeting Professionals International, Elizabeth has served on a variety of committees and been a member of many other industry organizations. An early adopter of social media applications, Elizabeth launched Building Blocks Social Media www.SocialMediaForPlanners.com with the goal of bridging the gap for meeting planners. She helps conference organizers with a thorough understanding of how attendees are accustomed to networking and how they can increase engagement through online social networks.