A common perception emerging in the business world these days is the notion business people must be receptive to experimenting with new business methodologies, concepts & technologies. In a rapidly changing world, with a highly competitive business environment and customers with dynamic needs I agree wholeheartedly.
Since March, I have been actively participating in a twice-weekly Twitter Chat group marked by the hashtag #eventprofs. For context, this group is comprised of forward-thinking meetings and events professionals from around the world with a variety of backgrounds and experience. Our common thread is a passion for social media, creativity and collaboration.
The chat experience has consistently been engaging, energetic and thought provoking! In fact much of what I have learned about social media is linked at some level to interaction with this group. Clearly, these are individuals for whom I harbor a great deal of respect!
From time to time our Eventprofs group experiments with alternative formats for our chat sessions. This week we attempted something new… to integrate our normal Twitter chat session with a live audio conference.
The concept, spearheaded by Robert Swanwick (aka “Swan”) was to enable storytelling, with participants sharing real customer service success stories via the audio feed. The Twitter feed would be used as a “back channel” to field peripheral questions, comments and feedback. In theory, the idea was solid, especially since it is nearly impossible to tell a story in a tweet. (140 characters)
Leading up to the session there was skepticism expressed by some Eventprofs members, myself included, that this approach to our chat sessions would not be successful, in fact a step back from what we have been experiencing. Yet, in the spirit of trying something new I attended the session with an open mind. Unfortunately, the Twitter feed was not functioning properly so that piece of the session was largely missing.
Here are my thoughts from the event:
- Innovation — we tried something new and the spirit behind that is awesome! Kudos to Robert Swanwick for being the thought leader to roll out a new idea for exploration!!!
- Voice Connection — the participants were able to connect on a “real voice” level versus typed chat adding a personal touch to the event.
- Story Telling — This approach did allow for more extended comments as we were not limited to 140 characters.
- Emotional Connection — clear understanding of the spirit behind the comments.
- Chat Backup — An audio conference may be a viable solution for the situation where the Twitter stream is not functioning. Eventprofs has had multiple occurrences of this challenge in the past.
- Limited Interaction — Audio connection alllowed only for single “one to many” conversation whereas Twitter allows for multiple “many to many” discussions.
- Telephone cost Limitations — International Participants were not able to join call due to Long distance fees.
- Lower Energy Level — By nature a Twitter chat creates excitement because of it’s “multiple threads.” A participant must pay close attention to keep track of all that is occurring. That dynamic was sorely missing in this conversation.
- Attention Span — Personally I was not engaged in the dialogue at times, and therefore became distracted and began multitasking. That would never happen in a Twitter Chat.. too much activity going on.
- Inhibited Conversation — People seemed to hold back from contributing, including myself. In a typed chat environment people seem to be less hesitant to say what they are thinking…. a Twitter chat seems to closely resemble a brainstorm session in that lots of information is hitting the session simultaneously.
Clearly, our experience with the audio format was tainted by the lack of the Twitter “back channel” so I believe we ought to try this again sometime working both components together. I firmly believe, however, that the power of Twitter chat sessions lies in the ability to have multiple discussions occurring in tandem. This ultimately leads, oftentimes, to new thoughts and ideas, evolving from the other discussions. It is what draws me to these events!
Question: What do you view as the greatest benefit derived from Twitter chat sessions? Do you see other ways to combine the session dynamic of these events with another mode of communication to create even greater value. Please share your ideas and feedback with us.