Twitterwalls are great when your goal is to encourage participation (online & offline) in your event. They are also a great way to get feed-back (on substance and logistics) from real-life and virtual participants. Here is how to get a moderated twitterwall for free. And a checklist proposal for your event. At the bottom of this post I give a few names of other twitterwall solutions my colleagues and I have tested. Please share your tested solutions as well as your answer to the question “can a twitterwall help an event suceed”?
My solution for a free moderated twitterwall:
Using Twitter’s Favorite button!
This button will get you a moderated twitterwall, but will also increase your engagement and widen your network. Choose a Twitter account to fav tweets from and embed the favorites Twitter widget on your website (when connected to this chosen handle, get the code from here).
You will moderate the wall by actually… favouring tweets. Moderation throug favouring has also the positive effect of increasing interaction and chances for your Twitter account to become more visible. Users are notified in their Notifications section that you’ve favourited their tweet (more about the power of the Favourite button at Mediabistro). So make sure to use the Twitter handle of your organisation or another active account that could contribute to building a community of participants, that would thrive after the event.
Be fully transparent about it to your followers (on why you are favouring their tweets). Send a tweet before the event along the lines:
Tell them also how happy you are to be in touch after the event! Add them to a Twitter list!
When embedding the code, add a title, subtitle and a background visual for your event. Below is an example [click to enlarge] of the embed our wonderful IT team developed for the Commission’s own twitterwall tool.
We use the subtitle field to display a call to action for our event audience (for ex. “Tweet with #eudeb8!“) or our moderation policy (for ex. “@replies, RTs and edited RTs excluded” but this is when we know the event audience is Twitter savvy).
Plusses and minuses
- The widget refreshes automatically and instantaneously
- Several people can favourite tweets
- You can fav tweets from a mobile device
- Pictures will be shown as expanded (so be sure to look at those before favouring any tweetpics)
- Practical for events where you want to show on the twitterwall only relevant questions / comments for the panellists
- Not practical for events with a large volume of tweets (certain payable services would make moderation easier by offering a word filter or the possibility to automatically accept tweets from a list of “trusted” accounts, this solution does not).
Checklist for the twitterwall
You have decided to put up a twitterwall at your event. Here is a check list if you want to use the Favorite Twitter widget solution:
- decide how the twitterwall will be used at your event (will you be taking questions from remote participants?)
- get in touch with your new media people (if different from the organising team)
- make Wireless available at the event venue (to encourage offline participation)
- display the wifi login on the participants’ badges or at the venue, alongside the #EVENTHASHTAG.
- make the event available through webstreaming (to encourage online participation)
- tweet out an announcement about the twitterwall and how external participants are invited to contribute
- take a series of questions or comments from the twitterwall
- decide what Twitter account to fav tweets from
- get the code for the favourite Twitter widget
- get your webmaster to embed it on a (public or hidden) webpage
- adapt the size of the embed to the size of the screens at your venue
- define a scenario for the screens at your event (will you only show the twitterwall or also videos, other announcements…? will the twitterwall be visible throughout the event?)
- appoint a manager for the content shown on the screens / videowalls at your event
- connect one or several computers with Internet access to the screen(s) you want to display the twitterwall on. A “switcher” between two sources or two computers might be necessary if you want to show different types of content and don’t want participants to see the landscape at sunset on your desktop while you move from the twitterwall to the window with the promo video. Most venues for conferences will have a control room allowing you to do this. A quick workaround is to open, before the event, everything you want to show from your computer and then navigate between the different windows [Ctrl+Tab]. Put the browser windows in full screen mode [F11] so that the URL and other toolbars are not visible. Also make sure you have a clean desktop, with maybe the logo of the event)
- define your moderation policy to announce at the event venue / tweet (to avoid upset participants who might expect to see their tweets appear on the wall)
- appoint a moderator with access to the chosen Twitter account to fav tweets during the event
- in order to avoid repetitive content on the wall, and especially if your wall is meant to enrich the content of an offline discussion, your moderation policy could exclude @replies, edited RTs and tweets that just highlight a quote from one panellist, without brining any comment/added value.
- if you are likely to be moderating a lot of tweets in a language you don’t understand, think about using an automatic translation tool (Hootsuite mobile app has an in-built automatic translator), so that you can allow on the wall tweets in various languages.
- brief the presenter / real-life moderator of the event and let him/her explain this moderation policy to participants
This checklist is built also on the feed-back gathered from colleagues who have used the twitterwall our IT team built based on this concept.
Other free twitter wall services
Twitterfontana – Colleagues from DG CONNECT (Digital Agenda) used it in one of their biggest events and were happy with it. They did not use moderation.
Twubs was used by some colleagues in Commission Representations to enhance the debates they organised between the public and the commissioners. They used moderation.
Payable twitterwall services
TweetWallPro – to be used for your big, cheerful event – in huge rooms or on that truck driving around the city, when you need that special wheel / round table / “dancing around” effects. We’ve used it at the Council, for example for the Open Door’s Day, when the public is invited to spend a few hours in the atrium of the European Council.
So what do you think about twitterwalls?
Do twitterwalls enhance an event? Go for a moderated one when you fear hijacking (I know something about this :)), attacks or twitter bombs directed towards one or several of the participants in the event. Go for non-moderated if these attacks are less likely to happen, but always keep a close eye on what’s happening and be able to intervene if anything goes wrong. Some good points in this post by Elizabeth Glau on what’s bad with twitterwalls.
Looking forward to your comments!
Two points on terminology
1. “Twitterwall” capitalisation or not? I say it is a common noun that doesn’t need capitalisation. Proposed a definition for it in the Urban dictionary. :)) Will update the post when I get feed-back from the editors of the Urban dictionary.
2. If you are confused about the conjugation of “to favour”, check Oxforddictionaries.