On March 9 all of the PR focused hashtag communities got together under the banner of one common hashtag (#chatmixer) to discuss PR. While there is value in each different hashtag, there is also a lot of value in occassionally merging.
Here are a few write-ups of that experiment:
Kudos to them for their leadership. In this post I am talking about the general concept that they pioneered of blending hashtags.
One of the greatest advantages of a Twitter Chat is that there are no community walls. In fact, I think about it like a town square of old. Its always open for anyone to wander through on their way somewhere else or to explicitly go to for an event. Throughout the week people may see each other and share a few platitudes. One person or another may even bring a soapbox and share their ideas. Still others will post notes for people to find. All these behaviors are replicated in a Twitter Hashtag Community.
Once a week a crowd will gather to converse, debate, share info, etc…. With Twitter, each one of those who gather also have a direct line back to their block (followers) communicating just a portion of the conversation. A follower, whose interest is piqued by this flurry of posts on a single topic, may come and listen. Any time THEY start sharing, they develop a direct line back to their block…and so on.
A #chatmixer takes this concept a step further and starts to blend crowds that may have a lot in common. While twitter naturally breaks down walls between communities anyway, the #chatmixer can explicitly bring two or more together.
There are lots of different ways to make it happen. You can create a new hashtag like the PR folks did, but I prefer a different approach.
- For chats that take place weekly, you set up one chat on each of the hashtags that are participating.
- Each topic can be the same or different, but it should be of interest to the intersection of the communities. Eg. for #KMers and #innochat we did “How does KM support innovation“
- If each community has a website (Ning, blog, wiki, etc..), you post the other group’s chat day/time for your community to see.
- For the pre-event promotional tweets you encourage multi-hashtags to bring members from one community to the others’ chat.
There are lots of overlaps among the Twitter hashtag communities. Click here for a spreadsheet list. I hope we will see more of them getting together. If your twitter use has not evolved to the point of community involvement, jump in right away. Everyone is very friendly.
Online communities of practice (CoP’s) are VERY challenging to keep vibrant over a long period of time. The ones with staying power always have active management and multiple channels for members to collaborate.
Many personal and professional associations have learned this. They send out information and invite people to collaborate online throughout the year. Then they run one or more in-person events/conferences that help keep everyone connected to the group. Not many of these associations are using Twitter Chats.
You don’t have to have an in-person element in order to remain successful with an online community. Stan Garfield runs a fantastic community for KM professionals called SIKMleaders. He runs it through a Yahoo Group, but it is energized monthly by a phone call that anyone can join.
In my opinion Twitter Chats are currently the best method for online community invigoration. Here are a few reasons why.
- If there are 10 or more people on a chat, the experience is very fast/furious and therefore invigorating. The experience will keep people coming back.
- Every time anyone tweets during your chat, the existence of your community is being pushed out to all the chatters’ followers. This brings in fresh members
- The ability for chatters to cross-post with other related hashtags helps related communities connect to each other sharing ideas/members/etc…
- The chat hashtag can be used between chat events for people to interact asynchronously.
- Even non-Twitter users can watch and learn from the chat just by going to the right web page
Some examples of Twitter driven chat communities are
Each platform has its pros and cons for supporting a Twitter Chat driven community. To my knowledge, the only chat supported by a site built from the ground-up is KMers. It is custom-built using the Drupal framework and can be modified to fit unique needs of a Twitter driven community.
If you are part of a community that you believe could use a platform like KMers.org has, contact me via one of the channels available in the top right of the blog page. We can help you (free) with a version that works for your community.
If you would like to join a Twitter Chat community, try any of the over 80 on the Twitter Chat Schedule.
There is already a meta-discussion on Twitter called #assnchat where association leaders collaborate. How many of those associations are using a Twitter Chat (overview, tools) to create an additional collaboration avenue for THEIR members? Judging from the Twitter Chat Schedule, the answer seems to be, “very few”.
It seems that social media savvy individuals rather than associations are the ones starting the chats. Lara Mculloch-Carter (@ready2spark) started #eventprofs. It could have been MPI. Jeff DeCagna (@pinnovation) started #assnchat. It could have been ASAE.
On the recent Oct 6 #assnchat (transcript), I moderated a discussion of how and whether associations should be creating Twitter Chats for their membership. The chat included some good reasons for an association to run a Twitter Chat
- It provides another avenue for collaboration
- It’s free so it can be added as a benefit without driving up costs
- Content tends to be very good on chats
- Less intimidating than a conference call for those who are shy to speak out
- Chat attracts attention from members and prospects due to its nature of tweets going out publicly
and some reasons why an association may not want to run a Twitter Chat
- Discussion is 100% open. There might be a privacy issues which necessitates more of a walled-garden
- Participation may be low until more people are on twitter
- Yet another channel might spread the activity even more so that it is hard to gain a tipping point of activity in any one channel
- members may want a non-computer based collaboration since they are already on computer all day
In my personal opinion
- #1 – Certainly a good reason that you should watch out for
- #2 – Even with only 3 people in a Twitter Chat, you can learn a lot. Get started. Once word gets out, more will join
- #3 – when done well, channels feed each other rather than take away. Tout your website during the chat and talk about the chat on your website. Mention the chat during your f2f meeting and gain registrations for f2f from the chat
- #4 – I have found that most people who spend a lot of time on a computer, prefer additional means of communication that use the same device. email, IM, and even Skype are often preferred over the telephone by heavy computer users.
A chat session is never going to replace face2face collaboration. Due to human nature, we develop a significantly deeper/quicker bond when we can see and touch each other. But, we should not consider the choice an either/or. Chats can increase the demand for f2f and they can help with the hype.
There is a very different set of opinions based on the same chat session over on Memberclicks. I hope you will chime in with some of your thoughts either here or there.
Don't let your events stand alone as isolated pillars
Some of the really great discussion lately on the #assnchat Twitter Chat definitely merits reflection. Standard first stage use of social media for events are apps like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as a marketing mouthpiece to reach prospective audiences.
That is just scratching the surface of the potential. Event owners and organizational leaders are quickly realizing that social media provides value well beyond the megaphone.
Thanks to a variety of communication methods (including SM), periodic face2face events are just one element of overall community management. Rather than using one as a broadcast medium for the other, they can both be used in conjunction to enrich a community.
That may sound good, but leave you thinking, “how the heck do I do that?”. To some degree the answer depends on your audience (members) and your history with them. However, since “it depends” isn’t very helpful, I will attempt to provide ideas from which you can pick/choose a-la-carte for your situation. This post was inspired by @MichelleBruno‘s blog post about additional revenue at events.
This first post covers pre-event ideas beyond the expected “create a webpage”, “create a Facebook page”. Stay tuned for parts 2 (during events) and 3 (post-event)
- Show the buzz
- Select and promote a hashtag EARLY. Your attendees will collect there and create more buzz. You can use a widget to bring those posts into your web environment for more exposure
- If anyone writes about your upcoming event, give them a way to submit their blog post so that you can showcase it to prospects and attendees. There is nothing a blogger likes more than exposure.
- Give them online buttons they can use to proudly display on their site/blog that they are going to your event. Give them a bonus if someone came to register through their button
- Post links to any articles that were written about previous events.
- Ask your members what they would like from the event. You don’t have to DO everything they say, but at least listen
- crowdsource speakers, topics, session-formats, locations, etc… try these tools: uservoice, crowdsound, ideascale
- Provide a way for your attendees to communicate with your speakers. Many speakers will customize their speeches if they know what questions people have.
- Run info/Q&A sessions using live stream providers eg. Audio: blogtalkradio, talkshoe Video: ustream.tv, livestream. Make sure you combine the live stream with a twebevent to make it collaborative and to add more activity to your hashtag.
- Inform prospective attendees who is already registered
- Post a list that grows automatically as people register. Don’t just put names, include organization name and title.
- If your online community has profiles, display that they are attending as a badge on their profile and all their community contributions
- Profile key people who will be attending including interviews with them about why they find the event valuable
- Give prospects and attendees a taste
- Make sure you have more than just a short bio of your speakers, connect relevant posts from their blog, videos they have posted, etc…
- Get your speakers to do some custom content for your event (community): podcasts, blog posts, videos, etc… all about the session they are going to do at your event
- Run some web events talking about the event and previewing content from presenters
- Show some of the fun/education that happened last year. If you are not already taking lots of video at your event, you should be (more in next post)
- Open up some pre-learning
- freebie samples to get people excited
- Some of the presentations that did not make the final selection for in-person
- content that they can get immediate access to once they register for the event
- design some at-event sessions around the pre-event content. Since the common foundation will be established pre-event, the face2face time can be used for greater collaboration
- Provide an option for attendees to pay a greater amount to receive extra online content. Some might want extra content, but can’t come a day early for your extra session.
- Help attendees find each other - If you have a quality online community, members can find each other easily already. This is especially important before an event for people who want to maximize networking Tools: Crowdvine, SocialCollective, Pathable
- Allow people to indicate sessions they want to attend. Show everyone who is going to what sessions. This is another way to determine the size of rooms, whether to run a session twice, or cancel a session.
- Provide a virtual expo. There are software providers for this, but even a single webpage with links to a few brochures and their website per sponsor, helps to narrow down where attendees want to focus their time at the event.
I know many of my fellow #eventprofs and #assnchat colleagues will have more suggestions. If you liked this post, please Re-tweet it on Twitter.
In my personal opinion, the #1 rule for the success of an online community is that members should not have to go somewhere they don’t already go in order to participate. Since that goal is usually quite challenging, the fallback is that if they do have to go somewhere else, there better be a significant quantity of links from where members are to where the online community is.
There are only so many places that people exist in the online space. Facebook, Google, maybe LinkedIn, some to Ning. After that it gets pretty fragmented. Along comes Twitter. Different people join for different reasons, but once they are there, the barriers between communities are negligable. If you are wondering what does he mean by “communities on Twitter”, then you should check out the hashtag communities that are starting to form and the tools which support them (Tweetchat, Twubs, wthashtag). A hashtag is just a keyword with a ‘#’ in front to denote a topic.
The intersection that I am talking about is when people post multiple hashtags in a tweet. Eg. “There is a great new list of Professional speakers on Twitter: http://bit.ly/ManhC #spkrchat #eventprofs” The speaker list is something that may be of interest to both speakers who might want to add themselves and event professionals who might want to book or at least follow certain speakers.
Now the members of both communities are aware of each other. If this cross-posting continues, there is likely some cross-interest between the communities and therefore some intersection of membership. Those who are members of one will find the second community very easily and have constant links to it put in front of them.
eg. If I am an event planner (member of #eventprofs) who books a lot of speakers, I am gaining awareness of this other community (#spkrchat) and become far more likely to join and participate.
If Twitter continues to grow and remains popular amongst regular users, watch for these communities to become quite important.
There is no doubt that Education is critical to the future of the United States economy. Thomas Friedman talks about it extensively in his very popular book, The World is Flat. Therefore, the concepts in this post on Future Education are not only directly applicable to business, but our success in Future Education will have a direct impact on our abilities in Future Business.
I spent 90 minutes last night on the phone with an excellent visionary from the NYC Dept of Education. Arthur VanderVeen is focused on how best to achieve knowledge sharing for NYC educators.
We talked about the difficulty of turning tacit knowledge into explicit and we talked about the challenges of fostering active communities of interest/practice.
Two of the main tenets of our discussion were
- Give them what they want: the sharing needs to have value to the way they work today or want to work today. There are some technologies (eg. Computer, cell phone) that completely change the way we work, but most enhance the way we already work in a more evolutionary fashion rather than revolutionary
- Work bottom-up rather than top-down. Try various programs in schools and see what works. Where there is success, invest more to work out if it can be scaled up.
One thing that has come to mind since our discussion is the 100-10-1 rule of community involvement. In the case of education it is probably 1000-100-10-1 due to the challenge of getting already overworked educators to even view information.
- For every 1000 educators
- 100 will actively or passively browse the knowledge-base
- 10 will comment on or use existing content
- and 1 will contribute something new
That means that for 80,000 teachers you may only have 80 contributors. This is likely not sufficient volume to create a critical mass of content that keeps the 100 coming back and gets more of the 1000 to view. The larger districts may decide to invest in “librarians” who seek out good content and take the time to get it into the knowledge-base, but this is not the most efficient model and is probably not tenable for the smaller districts.