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.
On 8/26 at 6:30pm we went live with the first online simulcast for the Knowledge Management Institute. We did it even with a few last minute challenges: one of our 3 speakers dropped out on the day of and our A/V expert also dropped out on the day of (both due to illness).
We soldiered on. This post is both the story of what happened and the lessons we learned from the experience. I hope it will serve as some sort of a guide for other associations. If you have experience in this regard, please share as a comment.
Marketing: we promoted the free event on some KM mailing lists, our own mailing list, KM LinkedIn groups, and Twitter.
Preparation: we tested as much as we could (hardware, software, bandwidth) days before the event. We arrived to the event 2 hours early to set-up equipment and run tests. We could not get our video camera to stream (remember, no A/V expert) so we went with a back-up webcam.
Event: we went live within a few minutes of on-time. We started and stopped the live event after each session because we wanted it to be broken into separate files. We were running a Buzz format session which means 3 speakers for 10 minutes each and then 20 mins of discussion in-between. We had ~15 person online audience for just about the whole event. We hope for more ongoing, but felt that was good for our first event.
Here is a description of the software that we used (all free):
- We kept the camera on the speaker and we used procaster.com (free download) to merge in the speaker’s slides from the streaming computer. An on-site producer selects between speaker-only, slides-only, and smaller speaker together w/smaller slides at each point in time for what goes into the stream.
- Procaster.com automatically streams to an account on livestream.com (free account if you are willing to allow some ads into your video stream). You can pay money if you want the ads removed.
- We took the embed code from livestream.com (it shows up right on the widget) and pasted it into the “Embed” field in twebevent.com. This combined our live video with a Twitter Chat and placed it in the twebevent schedule for additional exposure.
To accomplish the above software configuration I recommend someone who is at least intermediate with using web applications.
Other important items:
- you will need upload bandwidth of at least 500kbps (.5Mbps). You can test that with speedtest.net from the location where you will be streaming.
- It is best to outfit the speaker with a wireless mic that draws the sound into the streaming computer. If the speaker is not mic’ed, you may get variable sound online as they walk around.
- Camera with tripod and zoom allows speakers more mobility
- If you are at a hotel with a conference code to get on their wireless, make sure that it allows you several connections. This will allow some flexibility with testing (one streaming, one watching) as well as the ability for some on-site people to be tweeting to the event while another is running the livestream.
- If your event is structured like the Buzz where there are periods of time that the audience is discussing something at individual tables, point the camera at the crowd so that the online audience at least knows what is going on. Also keep them posted on timing via Twitter
- If there is on-site Q&A, draw some of the questions from the online environment. After the on-site session is over have the presenter answer more online questions on camera just for the online audience.
- If you have an extra projector, project the tweets that are coming in during the presentations. If you have a very large audience, you may want to moderate that Twitter stream. There are a few applications that will help with moderation. Twubs.com is one.
- Upload the presentations somewhere that they can be accessed via URL (if you don’t have this, you can do it with Google Docs, remember to make the docs shared as “public”) Link the uploaded docs into the twebevent so that people can download if they like.
- Open the presentations on the streaming laptop in “Normal View”. Then use the procaster “Zoom” function to frame the slide. This will allow you to do other things on the screen like: changing from one presentation to another, use the procaster producer, and use the slide picker on the left to jump to any slide without flipping around the slides
All in all it was a great experience. You can view some of the videos that we captured at http://twebevent.com/KMIevent. We will be running another simulcast on Oct 7. Join the KMI mailing list or just follow the #KMers hashtag for more information as we get closer.
Please contact me if you are interested in learning more. I am @swanwick on Twitter