Updated: Apr 2
Twitter walls can be a real asset to an event, even though they do come with benefits and drawbacks. A moderated stream of near real-time tweets displayed somewhere in the event space can be a great way to open up discussion and improve the quality of the experience for delegates. Meanwhile, it provides the opportunity to broaden your reach to an audience that is not in attendance. However, a single inappropriate tweet appearing in such a public space could at best raise a few eyebrows and at worst prompt angry reactions. To make sure your Twitter wall makes a positive contribution, it’s vital you moderate it properly.
1. Get the hashtag right
The most important step will take place before the event even begins when you choose the hashtag you and your delegates will be using. You can save yourself huge amounts of time and energy by getting this right first time, so the tweets you receive are relevant, interesting and will add value to the event.
First of all, come up with a few ideas that are simple, short and fairly obvious. The name of the event followed by the year is often a logical place to start. Then do your research - run your proposed hashtag through a Twitter search to ensure it is not being used elsewhere, then search for it on the web in case there are any other potential uses to which it is likely to be put.
Don’t forget to promote your hashtag effectively too, by including it in your promotional materials and using it on the event’s Twitter feed itself.
2. Get personal
Make sure the names of speakers and organisers are clearly displayed wherever appropriate. Include them on the programmes and agendas, display them in the room and make sure they are featured on every slide of the speaker’s presentations if they choose to use them. In addition, compile a list of the Twitter handles of your delegates - this should be easy to collect through your online event registration system. This will increase the quality of the tweets you receive and help to build up a network of relevant contacts, as well as enabling delegates and speakers to develop more specific and detailed dialogues via the Twitter wall.
3. Choose the right software
There is a wide range of Twitter wall software out there to choose from at varying levels of cost and functionality. These applications can aggregate all the tweets available on your hashtag and allow you to approve them before they go live. You may also be able to block specific users if you fall victim to trolling. Managing all the different facets of your Twitter dialogue through a single piece of software is much quicker and easier than searching for the hashtag on Twitter itself and then choosing the ones you want to publicise.
4. Manual or automatic?
Some Twitter wall software packages offer the option of automatically filtering tweets according to your pre-set criteria, while others will only allow you to moderate each tweet manually. Both have their pros and cons and it is worth looking at an application that will allow you to do both.
Automatic filters can be extremely useful as a blunt instrument - you can block any tweets that use expletives or other inappropriate language, prevent certain users from appearing on the screen and filter according to language, date or time. Admittedly, manual filtering is time-consuming and requires constant supervision, but it is means there are no surprises. You can choose tweets that are relevant and interesting and discard those with less valuable content. It’s a much more sophisticated process that may offer better results.
5. Validate everything
One of the benefits of manual filtering is that you can verify all the statements made via Twitter before you let them appear on your wall. Firstly, check the Twitter handles of the people contacting you - are they attendees, or are they likely to have an interest in the topic? Do they work for the company they claim to be from (you may want to check them out on LinkedIn)?
Fact-checking is crucial too. Even if the tweeter is trustworthy, they may not have the correct information or lack the evidence to support it. Double check the information and if you can’t find anything to support it, consider whether or not the user might have privileged access through the organisation they represent. Even if you’re using a disclaimer, don’t run the risk of having inaccurate information appearing next to your name.
6. Spelling and grammar
As Lynne Truss’ popular book Eats, Shoots and Leaves demonstrates, accurate spelling, grammar and punctuation are vital. Poorly written tweets will not only confuse and even irritate your delegates, but reflect badly on the event and its organisers itself. It may seem like a minor concern compared to the risk of slanderous or obscene tweets, but watch out for tweets that are full of errors. Rightly or wrongly, people do make assumptions from apparently minor errors. They will speak volumes about the professionalism of the event’s delegates and, by extension, the hosts.