Tips for being social at conferences

A reality today at many conferences and other large-scale organized events is that attendees at those events are going to tweet, post photos, comment on walls and otherwise talk online about what they’re experiencing (or anything else that comes to mind).

Even where event organizers recognize this reality – and there are many who don’t – there’s little some do to help make it an effective experience for all on the day itself beyond having a Twitter hashtag if you’re lucky. The enthusiasts and the early adopter crowd will always get on with it no matter what – which sometimes means handfuls of different made-up hashtags being one consequent disadvantage – but what about most conference-goers who might be novices in this element of online engagement and, therefore, who could really benefit with a little guidance?

One company who clearly does see this is software company Adobe and what they did at their Omniture Summit EMEA 2011 in London on May 19-20.


With Social Media Resources, Adobe makes it clear what they’re offering:

Here are some tips to help you join the conversation, give feedback, get answers and stay connected throughout the conference.

The special page on the conference website shows Twitter handles and hashtags, including hashtags specific to sessions not just a single one for the event overall. There were links to Twitter lists, eg, event attendees; to event pages on Facebook, YouTube and Flickr; and some handy advice on how to tweet effectively.

Not only that, Adobe also had a page with well-written and -illustrated guidance on how to connect to the venue wifi network including suggestions on setting up a VPN connection. And I have to say, the wifi connectivity at the event was the best I’ve experienced at a hotel, anywhere, in a very long time.

The primary advantages to everyone from Adobe’s efforts seem quite clear to me:

  • For the event organizer: being able to listen to conversations in a focused manner, making it simpler to identify influencers and opinion-leaders in relevant conversations.
  • For conference-goers: all the information they need in order to make it easier for them to connect themselves and their views to the event and to others.
  • For everyone: enriching the conference experience by inviting others not at the conference but online to contribute and broadcast comments and opinion to others connected to them.

If you provide the framework for everyone who wishes to do so to talk online at and about your event, think of the advantages of being able to make it more than likely that those who do so will identify your event (with a hashtag, for instance), connect the speakers or presenters if they’ve offered their Twitter handles, and generally provide you the organizer with some useful and potentially-valuable data from the identifiable chatter that results.

Adobe’s example is a good one, terrific advice for anyone planning a conference and anyone wanting to talk about it online when there.

Bonus link: Ten Tips For Successful Conference Tweeting, the best collection of advice for effective conference tweeting I’ve seen, written last month by Jeff Hurt from the delightfully-named Velvet Chainsaw Consulting.

One tip I’d add is mainly for conference presenters – make sure you have your Twitter handle clearly displayed on your slides or otherwise visible to the people you’re presenting to or engaging with so that when they tweet, they’ll include your handle. And event organizers – why not add a conference-goer’s Twitter handle to their name badge? And if you include a barcode, as Adobe did, make sure the data that gets scanned includes a Twitter handle where an attendee has one.

Make it easy for everyone to join the conversation.

(Disclosure: I participated in Omniture Summit EMEA 2011 at Adobe’s invitation: thanks to Cassandra Faria and Emma Wilkinson.)

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. gina d.

    Great information Neville! we are really wanting to increase our social media participation for our 18th Annual Conference for Administrative Excellence this year and this is going to be very helpful. I got connected to you thru and this is definitely useful.

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