Last year, at the Church and Media Conference, I was attempted to get a Twitter stream going, but there was very few of us who understood the potential and were engaging, I’d say around 6 of us. This year, I was determined that Twitter was going to make a stronger appearance at the conference! For years the Conference has been the ‘Churches’ Media Conference’, but this year was a change of name to the Church and Media Network Conference – the event, however, was advertised on Facebook as the Churches’ Media Conference, but still – I could work with that! I decided that #cmn10 would make a good hashtag, advertised it on Facebook, got responses ranging from ‘what’s a hashtag’ to some people tweeting with the hashtag!

I contacted the organisers of the event and asked them to publicise the hashtag #cmn10, which they did via the regular emails, both from the conference, and I think through the MediaNet, and the information was also in the conference programme (although it was referred to as a feed rather than a hashtag, but no matter). I then went into ‘What the Hashtag‘ and set up a definition (and collected the stats afterwards here):

The first day of the conference, a lighting strike had taken out the internet/wi-fi in the building, although a few of us die-hards who could manage to get a 3G signal on our phones were able to Tweet. On the second day, however, with some (albeit slow) internet connection restored, the hashtag was republicised from the front, and with a number who were prepared to utilise their previously neglected Twitter accounts after the talk I gave on the Monday, the Tweetstream started to make sense!

Whilst at the event I wanted to find a way of keeping hold of all the tweets from #cmn10, and ‘TwapperKeeper‘ seemed to work fine (there’s a slight time-lag on it, but it collected all the previous tweets). At 21:05, we’re on 396 Tweets, with around 40 people contributing to the debates (so a real number up from last year), and a desire from others to get into it when they get home… I think that’s a great result!

I was really pleased to hear from @Sound_Mike that he’d decided that the Tweetstream offered a different layer which enriched the conference for him, something I have always found! Some think that it detracts attention from the speakers, but I feel that it enables a fuller engagement (albeit that you may miss the odd bit of information!). I have found that a build up to an event via social media (often most easily Twitter) allows delegates and themes to emerge before the conference. Once at the conference you can meet those you have previously met in the online space (emphasis online/offline, not virtual/real!) and continue the conversations face-to-face… and then after the conference we can continue the conversation. This conference doesn’t need to be just a once-a-year event any more – we can continue the conversations online!!

Around halfway through the conference, in between sessions, the production team projected a search from the Twitter app onto the screen, but this had a terrible time lag, and wasn’t picking up users, so I suggested that we use Twitterfall, and this worked much much better!

Now to think about next year’s event, for which we already have a hashtag: #cmn11. We are discussing getting a 3rd screen which will have the Twitterfall on consistently throughout the conference, and the event can be advertised much more widely via social media. A theme coming through the conference is that everyone needs to engage with social media, and therefore the organisers need to be ensuring that it’s being used well, so that it’s use can be encouraged – and I was very chuffed in talking to Andrew Graystone to hear that the Church and Media Network is planning on workshops to enable people to use social media, and my name is in the frame for some of those – yeah, let me at it, that’s what I want this business too… I just need to get past the marking so I can concentrate on it!

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