Sharing Conference Information on Social Media

I’m attending a few conferences in the upcoming weeks – the ASTD International Conference and the SHRM Annual Conference.  I’m very excited to be attending and, as such, want to share my experiences.  But I also want to make sure that I’m sharing the right information the right way.

One of the most common ways to share a conference experience is via Twitter.  A couple years ago, I read some really great tweets from the ERE Social Recruiting Summit.  Good content along with a little fun.  The information was interesting so I decided that I wanted to attend a future summit.  Which I did – and the event was awesome.  Very reflective of the tweets I read. Good content and good fun.

But I’ve also read conference tweets that weren’t so complementary.  In fact, I’ve read some that were downright snarky.  Like the one that said, “If you’re not here, you’re a loser.”  That doesn’t make me want to attend that event.  In fact, the lack of professionalism makes me want to avoid it.

Then there are the people who just aren’t good at live tweeting.  For example, the HR pro who wrote social recruiting was created to turn every employee into a talent scout.  My first reaction was um, no – I was trying to build the talent scout network he referenced years ago when I was a corporate recruiter.  And social media didn’t even exist – in fact, email barely existed.  I’m sure I took the remark out of context.  And that’s the point…too many things can be taken out of context when they’re only shared via a 140-character tweet.

Months ago, Mark Stelzner at Inflexion Advisors wrote a very popular post about conference tweeting.  It’s a good read for people who are planning to live tweet an event.  My big takeaway from Mark’s post is about adding value.  If an event generates 3,000 tweets but 35% of them are about the chicken salad sandwich in the expo hall…that’s not value.  (Unless of course, it’s a food show.)

Value is like my first example with ERE – tweeting about great speakers and conference interactions.  I’d like to think speakers would encourage live tweeting during their sessions.  This only benefits them and the event.  And if they use PowerPoint, they could present information in a way that can be quickly converted to sound bites.  This allows anyone who is tweeting to get a good quote.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that way.  Many speakers are anti-Twitter. Speakers should assume the people typing on their iPads, laptops and smart phones are helping them get the word out.

Lastly, when live tweeting an event, there must be a way to peacefully co-exist with other attendees.  There are still plenty of participants who find live tweeting a distraction to their learning experience.  I’m a back-of-the-room kinda girl, so I haven’t found it to be a major issue.  But I have heard from colleagues that they’ve received plenty of funny looks when they start to tweet during a presentation.

So at this point, I’m a little confused about Twitter and conferences.  I enjoy tweeting at events and have seen the plus side…but a downside is starting to emerge for all the reasons I mentioned.  What do you guys think?  Is Twitter still a good medium to share a conference experience?  Or should people just write about it on blogs?  Or maybe there’s another way?

Leave a note in the comments:  What’s the best way to share a conference experience?