Tag: twitter

Connect, share, engage: how to amplify your conference with an online experience (part 1 of 3)

This is part one of a three part series on creating an online presence to enhance the conference experience. In the first post, I outline needs for information and to connect conference goers which these tools can address. In part two, I’ll list my  digital tools of choice and then in the third segment I will discuss a simple strategy for using these tools.

Last year I attended Mesh 09. That was the first conference I’d been to where I think *everyone* had a Twitter account. Sessions were filled with people tweeting and live blogging. I followed the conference hash tag to keep up with what was happening, sometimes switching rooms because of what others were posting. Events that use social media like Twitter and live blogging amplify the value of the “hallway conversations” that are often the best part of conferences. The conference felt more alive, and in turn I got more value from going.

Over the past few years I’ve volunteered to help a number of events use social media to amplify their value and impact on participants. From experience I can say that with a little effort and knowledge, integrating social media into the conference experience does not have to be onerous or expensive. All the tools I use are free, and there are ways to automate part of the effort. Remember, too, once there is an environment in which everyone can participate and share, you don’t have to generate all the content – grab your paddle and jump in the content stream with others.

If I were in charge of social media for a conference, I would start first by identifying the needs people have around information and connecting. For this round of research I sat down with myself for an in-depth interview. Well, I was available and close by.

I see four stages participants go through related to a conference. For each stage I’ve identified needs. While some needs span across stages, I refer to them once to avoid unnecessary duplication. I know you’re busy.

Should I go to the party?

AKA deciding whether to attend the conference or not

  • Sessions: where can I find more detailed information about them? What do others think of them?
  • About presenters: where can I find more detailed information about them? What do others think of them? How can I contact presenters with my questions?
  • Network: who else is going that I might want to meet?

Dress up: getting ready for the party

Getting closer to the event

  • Network: contact people in advance, organize meet ups, discuss what is coming up
  • Sessions: decide which sessions to attend. What sessions are other people going to, especially people I know?
  • Accommodations: find someone to share a room, airport taxi. What lower cost alternatives are there to the conference hotel?

Party time

Ok, we’re there.

  • Network: find people to connect with in real-time, organize meet ups
  • Sessions: decide which sessions to attend. What sessions are other people going to, especially people I know?
    • last minute changes to schedule, sessions
  • Feedback: timely, useful session feedback to presenters and conference organizers
  • Conversation: what are the hot topics? What are people thinking/doing/sharing? What stories are being told by the people at the conference?

The morning after

  • Feedback / telling the story: what are people saying and sharing about their experience of the conference?
  • Network: find for those people you met but don’t have contact details for to continue discussions, follow up on opportunities, request copies of incriminating photos.

My experience is conferences not social media savvy don’t address these needs well, and miss some entirely, especially when it comes to connecting people with each other. Fortunately, all it takes is a reasonable effort and cost to bridge the gap. In the next blog post I’ll list the tools you’ll want to use to become a conference social media superstar.

How does this list compare to what you need? Have I missed anything important? Add your comment below.

This is part one of a three part series on using digital tools / social media to enhance the conference experience. In the first post, I outline informational and connecting needs conference goers have which these tools can address. In part two, I’ll list my  digital tools of choice and then in the third segment I will discuss a simple strategy for using these tools.

Social Media @ Scrum Gathering by the numbers

Scrumming forward - open space banner @ Scrum Gathering

Last week I attended my first ever Scrum Gathering in Orlando. A big part of my voluntary duties was to enhance the experience through use of social media.

Just for fun, I tabulated some numbers on social media throughput by myself and conference goers:

The Twitter fountain was a big hit. We set it up in the conference hallway one day and inside the open space ballroom the next. People enjoyed seeing tweets and photos appear live on screen.

In a follow-up post, I’ll explain more about the why and how of social media at the conference, what worked in my mind and what didn’t, and what I would do next time.

10 Years of Innovation, SSM-style

I’ll be helping with live blogging the Innovation Centre’s 10 year anniversary. All the action is taking place at the Grand Theatre, 1 pm, Tuesday December 8. Can’t make it? Come back here to see live coverage, including photos. Rumor has it there will be a big cake and unveiling of SSMIC’s new logo.

More details on the event on SSMIC’s site.

Family reunion goes social media

All this week, Giesbrechts (my wife’s side of the family) will gather here in Sault Ste. Marie for another family reunion. This one is unique as it is the first time the clan is heading east to Ontario, rather than the traditional Saskatchewan / BC destinations. For some, this will be their first visit to my home town. Everyone is particularly interested in learning more about the places that Ed, Rowena’s dad was connected to.

Not everyone can come, of course, especially with the added distance, so I’m going to try and share daily highlights through my blog. Thanks to my new iPhone, posting photos to Flickr and videos to YouTube will be a cinch. I’m even hoping to do one live webcast though I haven’t decided what or when. That should make a few heads spin around the card tables.

All photos and videos will be tagged giesbrecht09 for easy access, or just come back to my blog and click on the links.

Share your comments

Engage a little with folks here by posting a comment at the bottom of this blog post. Let us know what you are thinking, send a message to everyone.

Twitter updates



Sault’s Twittering class grows

Michael Purvis (@MichaelPurvisOK), report with the Sault Star wrote a piece on the growing local use of Twitter. I was the lucky one to get my photo snapped. He shares the stories of:

  • an elementary teacher connecting with experts in education
  • a naturopath sharing tips and suggestions on health topics as a way to promote her business
  • a professor who dialogues with students and connects with other parents of autistic children
  • the Sault Star which now posts links to a selected list of stories and events (Michael manages this, too)

I discover new people from the Sault on Twitter every week, and the rate of adoption is increasing. I’m following about 60 people from the area at the moment. Some of these people have become good friends, even though we’ve never met.

The reality though is that only about 5% of Twitter users really understand how to use and benefit from the tool. Many give up before getting to that point.

One way I’m trying to give back to the community is by sharing knowledge of how businesses and individuals can benefit from social media. I’ve given one course on Twitter as well as a session on social media for small businesses. I’m considering offering the course again, so please contact me if you are interested.

There is also an upcoming Tweetup for people using or are interested in Twitter to connect. Register now as seating is limited.

Read the full article: Sault’s Twittering class grows (via Sault Star)

Twitter Essentials: Examples and Steps to get Started

Too engaged in Twitter to look up and smile.
Having too much fun with Twitter to look at the camera.

Twitter is an amazing networking tool, but for many people, it’s hard to “get” Twitter at the start. My experience is people (including me) struggle with the benefits of Twitter and the value in using the tool for 3-6 months, sometimes more. Many just give up before reaching the “a-ha” moment. Last night I had a great time introducing Twitter to 8 eager students in my first ever public class. The goal of the course is to reduce the time to get value from Twitter, and to get productive right away by bootstrapping people with tools and know-how.

Overall, I’m satisfied with the experiment. We covered everything I had hoped to in the allotted two hours. People had lots of great questions. By the end, everyone was active on Twitter and had learned the basics of posting links, replies, re-tweets and direct messages. We used PeopleBrowsr so everything they did in class would be available to them at home or work.

A few lessons learned:

  • Double-check that you’ve packed the power chord (battery expired with few min left).
  • Class of 8 worked well for assisting people. Beyond 12 or so, have an assistant.
  • Use high contrast colours on slides when you can’t turn off all the lights.

The slides from the course are at the bottom of the post. I’ve posted references to items mentioned during the course:

Twitter examples mentioned:

Tools for building your Twitter community:

  • Twittgroups has all kinds of groups by topic or location. I set up a Sault Ste. Marie group a few months ago. Find new people to follow and add your own Twitter profile to the page so others can follow you.
  • Use Twitter advanced search to do specific searches by location, keyword, person, time line. I find people in the Sault area on a regular basis
  • Mr. Tweet looks at who you follow, what you tweet about to come up with a relevant list of new people to follow.
  • We Follow is a user-generated Twitter directory. Find people to follow by topic. Add yourself to the directory under three topics using hashtags. You can find me under Agile, Sault, coach.
  • Twubble is a simpler version of Mr. Tweet that looks at who your followers are following and recommends people.

Tools for improving your Twitter profile:

Gerry recommends PeopleBrowsr Twitter app for managing your tweets. To get the most out of PeopleBrowsr, click on the Tutorial link at the bottom of the screen after you log in.

Come meet other Saultbies on Twitter at the next Sault Tweetup event, May 19 @ Cafe Natura.

View more presentations from gerrykirk.

Daily post (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Helping Sault businesses use Social Media in a Crowded Marketplace

Last night I had the privilege of presenting a session on social media, the final installment in the Economic Development Corporation’s 3 part series on online marketing strategies. The audience was small but engaged, making for a fun evening. I spent about 1/3 of my time just answering questions. The group was diverse, including an Alpaca farmer, a manager at a local bank, a newcomer to the Sault, and someone from Sault Tourism.

Reasons people came to the event:

  • Expand network
  • Connect more with people
  • Create awareness about business
  • Promote in a new market
  • Learn how to present product
  • Learn social media tools
  • Engage people, and how to manage the effort
  • How to use social media tools efficiently
  • How to reach a young audience

The group finished up the evening by coming up with a top 10 list of tips for a small business using social media, based on what was presented. Here is there must-do list, in no particular order, with some additional comments from me:

  1. Update content constantly. You are only as good as your last post / tweet / comment.
  2. Be honest. You can’t hide deception online.
  3. Start small. Pick something, try, learn, assess.
  4. Find a sustainable pace. Don’t burn yourself out.
  5. Stay focused. Have a clear message.
  6. Know your audience.
  7. Use tools to (your) fullest potential. Keep learning, experimenting. Read about what others are doing.
  8. Be open and transparent in your communication. Let people get to know both about you and your business.
  9. Work hard to keep customers happy. Address negative comments and turn frustrated patrons into your evangelists through over-the-top service.
  10. Choose the right digital channels. There are lots to choose from, and you can’t do everything.

Here are 5 additional resource links for small businesses trying to use social media:

Social media isn’t what I do for a day job. I don’t consider myself a social media expert. I like to use the term ‘social media swimmer’. I’m a fish navigating the rivers of online connectedness, and have been splashing in the waters heavily for some time. My desire is to help people and organizations in Sault Ste. Marie benefit from using social media, which is why I do these presentations.

Next month people can learn about Twitter in an interactive, hands-on session I’ve put together at Algoma University. Course is limited to first 20 registrants. Cost covers my costs plus some of my time taken away from my regular work to prepare for it. If you’ve wondered what Twitter is about and how to make the best use of it, you won’t be disappointed. You can register and pay online. How easy is that?

The slides from the presentation are below. Huge dose of gratitude to Fred Roed of WorldWideCreative for giving me permission to use some of his slides from a similar presentation. Sharing ideas FTW!

My first ever public training class: Twitter Essentials

Update: course date is April 21. Only first 20 registrants accepted.

Twitter logo

“Facebook is for people you used to know. Twitter is for people you want to know.” – Tim O’Reilly
“Twitter is the water cooler for connected free agents.” – Mark K
I like Twitter – a lot, and feel Twitter can benefit businesses, organizations and individuals here in the Sault. That’s why I am putting together a course on Twitter. Read on for more details.
I had signed up to Twitter long ago, but didn’t “get it” until I used Twitter during the last federal election while promoting the vote swap / vote reform campaign (more info and video of presentation). Since then, I’ve been using Twitter extensively, building a network that is generating work opportunities, helping him find quick answers, get support on products, make new friendships and take part in exciting initiatives. Some examples of Twitter goodness:
  • Coaching & training a web development team based in TO in Agile
  • Volunteering for Changecamp.ca and Thmvmnt.info, both which may turn into longer term paid gigs. Attended inaugural ChangeCamp in TO, got involved in organizing, expanded network of TO contacts
  • Recruited a passionate volunteer for Pairvote.ca, who wrote on his blog, gave media interviews and poured in countless hours in final week of campaign
  • Many useful links and tips on Agile, helped many others with Agile questions
  • Organized all-star panel for Agile 2009 conference from people who responded on Twitter.
  • Made many new friends, both locally and around the world.
  • Learned about the Hudson plane crash moments after it happened. Saw first photo of plane crash on Twitter before reaching mainstream media.

Twitter, at first glance is a simple tool to master, but without guidance it can take months to start getting real value for time invested. The purpose of this course is to avoid the time suck to ramp up on how best to use your time on Twitter. Participants will learn by doing:

  • How Twitter differs from other social networking tools
  • How Twitter is being used by citizens, business people, government officials, media and others
  • How to create a suitable presence on Twitter
  • How to use a Twitter client to better manage conversations and relationships
  • How to find people they want to converse with
  • Proper Twitter etiquette
  • Examples of Twitter postings
  • Discover 3rd party tools to enhance their Twitter experience

When: April 21, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Where: Course will take place at Algoma University, using a computer lab where everyone will have their own workstation.

Size limited to 20 participants. Course fee is $50. Register and pay online.

Course Outline

2 hrs total, though may stretch to as much as 2.5 hours

15 min    Intro: What is Twitter?

15 min    Examples of Twitter usage
15 min    Setting up your account
15 min    How to find followers / people to follow, conversations of interest

10 min    Break

20 min    Twitter client tools show and tell, with focus on PeopleBrowsr
10 min    Apps that use Twitter, apps to help you benefit more from Twitter
10 min    Questions, concerns
10 min    Conclusion, wrap-up

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Twitter Groups: Bringing communities together

Following agile talk on Twitter using Tweetdeck (click image for larger view)
Following agile talk on Twitter using Tweetdeck (click image for larger view)

I like Twitter. A lot. Twitter has helped me connect with a diverse group of people, particularly in the Agile community. I consider myself fortunate to chat and learn from people like Lisa Crispin (@lisacrispin), Brian Marick (@marick), Esther Derby (@estherderby), as well as lesser knowns like myself. For instance, I learned about Lisa’s upcoming book on Agile Testing (pre-ordered), Esther’s love of gardening and good food and have a ring-side seat between the always colourful Ron Jeffries (@RonJeffries) and Bob Martin (@unclebobmartin). I also discovered some great articles, including Cory Ladas’ Scrumban.

There is a lot of Agile-related chatter on Twitter, and it isn’t always easy to find. To help myself and others join in, I created the Agile Twitter group as an experiment, using  TwitGroups.com.

How to join the conversation

  1. Sign up to the Agile Twitter group.
  2. The Agile Twitter group official tag is the highly original #agile. Just type #agile somewhere in your post, likeLooking for an #agile pm tool, anyone have suggestions?and your tweet will end up in the Agile group’s Twitter stream (or is that tweet stream?).

How to follow the conversation

Unfortunately, Twitter has no built-in mechanism for following keywords so that those tweets appear in your Twitter stream. Here, then are the options I know of:

  1. Use a desktop tool like TweetDeck which has built-in support for Twitter searches. I have a search for everything with the word agile, which captures both Agile group tweets and anything else Agile on Twitter, including agile kids hiding behind couches to avoid their parents.
  2. Monitter is a real-time web-based keyword tracking tool, with support for RSS feeds if you prefer to receive updates that way.
  3. Add [email protected] to your list of IM contacts, then send twitterspy the message “track agile” (without quotes). You’ll get IM replies with linked Twitter ids.

    Track #agile conversation using IM via twitterspy@jabber.org
    Track #agile conversation using IM via [email protected] (click image for larger view)
  4. Visit the Agile Twitter group page occasionally and see what activity is happening by clicking on the Agile group’s Twitter stream.

Quick reference of Agilistas on Twitter

At the bottom of the group page is a list of all the members, with links to their Twitter page and personal web site. This is another easy way to follow people who have an interest in Agile like you. In less than a day, almost 100 people have registered. Now we just have to get people joining and following #agile, or this whole experiment is a bust.

What else do Groups offer?

These groups allow members to share links to related blogs, articles, forums, events, photos and wikis. You have to go to the group page to post and see them. I doubt this will get much use, but hey now you can’t say I didn’t tell you.

If you are a member of the group, let me know what you think, either as a comment here or on Twitter. Just don’t forget your #agile. 🙂