One of the most fun and powerful uses of Twitter revolves around live events and conferences. Used effectively, real time Twitter Walls have the capacity to not only increase brand awareness but also build a sense of community, connecting participants pre, post and during most every campus, corporate or community event.
Strangely, large events can be overwhelmingly impersonal experiences. The challenge for every campus event or conference planner is connecting ideas, passions and people. Almost every student engagement study every published writes of the importance of students feeling included and welcomed. This reality extends to almost any organization. I have personally attended numerous conferences, with thousands of delegates, only to return home having met very few delegates. And I am an extrovert.
For years, event planners have spent thousands of hours and dollars trying to create a welcoming experience. Receptions, VIP rooms and strategically placed food and beverage are all tactics used in the hope they will entice you to meet fellow students and conference delegates. Luckily today, connecting event goers, their ideas, and their passions is but a hashtag or Twitter Wall away.
At Algonquin College, Twitter Walls are now a standard element of every campus event. From concerts to Convocation, we use Twitter Walls to create excitement, share College pride, sell product and connect people.
Every Twitter Wall begins with a #Hashtag. While there are no rules governing their use there are a couple of things every event planner will want to think about before selecting their hashtag and encouraging everyone to use it.
- Check to see if it has been used before. Before your event simply enter the proposed #hashtag into Twitter Search. It will let you know if anyone else has had the same brilliant idea as you.
- Keep it short & memorable. The shorter the better. Remember people have only 140 characters and they want to tell their story, not yours.
- Don’t date it. Think long term. Will you want to re-use your hashtag again? Too many people slap a year or date in their hashtag limiting its future use. Pick a term that can be re-used and build a multi-year community.
- Promote it everywhere. Many event planners leave the hashtag decision too late and fail to take advantage of its full power. Treating the hashtag decision as a key element of your marketing plan allows you to add it to your event website and insert it into promotional materials. You’ll be amazed at how many people will begin using the hashtag to connect pre and post events.
To create your Twitter Wall you’ll need an internet connection, projector, screen and either a free or paid tool that creates your stream. The difference between free and paid tools lies primarily in the ability to moderate the stream. Unfortunately, there are folks out their who have no issue with hijacking a hashtag for political or competitive gain. If the ability to control which messages make it to your Twitter Wall is critical then skip to the Paid Tools section, otherwise there are a many options to get you started.
Most free tools make it painless to publish a live stream of tweets. What they lack for in features they make up in reliability and simplicity.
- Visible Tweets - My personal favourite among the free options due to its attractive design and animation. Simple and straightforward to use, the designs include animations that introduce tweets letter by letter, in a tag cloud format and as in a cascading style.
- Twitterfall - Considered the grandaddy of Twitter Wall options, the service’s presentation mode is great for live events. With the most robust set of features among the free options, users have the ability to integrate geo-location and exclude certain tweets.
- HootFeed - HootSuite’s customizable full screen Twitter feed is perhaps the most simple and easy to use Twitter Wall services available for live events and digital displays. Features include the ability to add a company or event logo and change the background colour.
- Another Tweet on the Wall – A simple and clean design with basic functionality.
- Twitterwall.me - one of the most basic and easy to use Twitter Wall options, providing a clean and simple stream of live tweets using a single hashtag or keyword. The service also allows you to add a custom background which can be used to promote the event or corporate brand. Check it out using Obama as the keyword.
- Wiffiti – Has both a free and paid version. The scrapbook design format is compelling and has the ability to enter multiple hashtags.
Paid options provide additional features such as moderation
- TweetWall Pro - features include automated and manual moderation, multiple layouts, and the ability to highlight VIP tweets.
- Wall of Tweets – Based out of the UK, the company’s designs are sleek and features include moderation, support for Twitter List API and the ability to import Twitter user lists.
Final thoughts on Twitterizing your event
To learn more, here are some great articles that go into even greater depth on the use of social media at events.