This year’s hash tag is #10CCM
If you’ve never heard of a hash tag, let me explain. Hash tags are embedded labels within a “tweet” or messages which lets tweets be easily searched or cross-referenced.
The first time I ever tried to tweet at a conference was just last year. I remember worrying that the presenters might think I wasn’t paying attention; I wondered if it was disrespectful to be typing into my smart phone as someone else spoke.
I admit it. It took some practice. I had to get comfortable with some new technology (I use Twitterific) and I had to overcome several pre-conceptions about what I thought it meant to be an audience member at a conference. To me the experience was supposed to be about sitting, listening, and then asking people what they thought later. But when you tweet and use hash tags during a conference, all this changes.
For me, tweeting allows the conference experience to become multi-dimensional. Let me explain what I mean:
- When I tweet at conferences I know I need to keep myself at greater attention because I’m “looking for gold”—that is I am actively seeking the especially powerful, relevant, insightful gems from the speaker so that I can capture them, tweet them out and be ready for the next one. To do all that, you have to be really listening (at least I have to be!).
- I’ll also have a heightened awareness that I am listening, filtering, censoring, approving/disapproving information all in the moment, and that this requires greater responsibility. Within CCM we have had many spirited discussions on whether “instant reporting” is a positive or not. I don’t know the answer to this great debate. But I do know is that faster (to some degree) will become part of our evolving role as business communicators. For me, tweeting at some conference is a pretty safe way to get some practice and sharpen this skill.
- Hash tags allow people who aren’t in the room to follow the live reports of what’s happening and also gain knowledge from the session. Multiple citizen-journalists capture what they find interesting and together these tweets create a live mosaic of the event as it happens. Organically. Whether this is good or dangerous (on lots of levels) is also debate-able. The speed, equity, and collaborative nature of it all is a very strong draw for me.
- Lastly—and maybe more than anything, I love that hash tags enable live audience commentary. Before I started tweeting at conferences, I would turn around a lot in my seat– especially when I heard something moving or particularly inspiring. I would watch the body language of other audience members whose opinions I respected because I wanted to know (and I would often guess) about what they were thinking. With hash tags, you get this insight without guessing. In real time, fellow audience members post their reactions, questions, and reflections. For me this creates a whole new dimensional experience for conferences. No longer is there a single viewpoint on stage, but instead there are now the voices of many considering the same topic. That’s very different.
As you can see, I’ve become quite a fan of tweeting at conferences. If you haven’t tried it, why not give it a try? And if you’re not sure how, find someone with a smart phone in their hand and ask them to show you.