Dan McDonnell on Using Twitter to Enhance Your Conference Experience

My name is Dan McDonnell and I am the Community Manager for the American Evaluation Association.

Ever wanted to be a professional conference insider? Social media offers a fascinating way to add an extra level of experience to any conference you attend, and provides you extra content, as well as the means to discover fellow attendee recommendations and conference secrets or ‘life-hacks,’ provided you know your way around Twitter and hashtags. Read on to see how you can take enhance your experience at the  next conference you attend (Evaluation 2014 for many of you!).

Hot Tip: Know Your Conference Hashtag

First things first. Check out the conference website or marketing materials to find out what hashtag will be used. In the case of Evaluation 2014, the official hashtag is #Eval14. Using the Twitter search client (or one of the many third-party Twitter management tools out there), search for the official conference hashtag and start reading. Consider this your conference command center! Whenever you have some downtime, or are interested in hearing your fellow attendee’s reactions to certain presentations or sessions, search the hashtag to see what people have to say/

Hot Tip: Share Your Experience

Part of getting the most value out of social media is by being, well, social. Use Twitter as your personal digital notepad by:

  • Tweeting out neat data points or insightful thoughts from speakers
  • Sharing your own reflections on the content and topics being discussed
  • Join the conversation by @replying to other users Tweeting on the hashtag
  • Posting photos from the event

With all of the above, be sure to include the conference hashtag to join in with the larger conversation. Not only will you have a digital record of some of your experiences from the event to review later, but you’ll open up opportunities to connect and meet with your fellow conference attendees, and give those who are unable to attend the conference a small taste of the experience they are missing.

Hot Tip: Connect with Others

Don’t miss an opportunity to expand your network and learn more from conference attendees and speakers. Follow people on Twitter that are using the conference hashtag, as chances are, you’ll have a lot in common. Search for conference speakers and presenters on Twitter (or just ask for their Twitter handle in person) to give them a shout out, especially if you enjoyed their session. You can also ask them follow-up questions via Twitter or simply to ‘subscribe’ to their feed and read up on more great evaluation content that interests you.

By following along with the conference hashtag, you may also uncover great recommendations on sightseeing, local cuisine and the best place to grab a coffee near the hotel or convention center.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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