Joanna Ptolomey Conferences are social?
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Thursday, 15th September 2011 Sign in to MyJinfo or create an account be able to star items Printable version Subscribe via RSS to get updates as soon as Blog items are added Tweet about this item on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

By Joanna Ptolomey


I was at a day conference recently when I was asked to turn off my smartphone. I gasped – the event was on participation using online technology!

On the LiveWire many of my colleagues report from conferences on a regular basis. This type of event is seeing many changes in terms of the traditional approach that it has held for many years.

Traditional conferences are often very one-sided affairs. The setup usually includes the respected speaker, a facilitator and with the audience being the passive watcher.  But things are a-changing, our world is becoming more social (with tools to match) and we the audience now want (nay demand) to be part of the conversation too.

If my experience from last week has taught me anything then it is that we are not all on the same page in terms of technology and how we can interact and have conversations with each other.  Some are not so far down the social media road allowing conversations and content to travel. It was timely therefore that Angela Dunn’s (@blogbrevity on Twitter) trio of articles appeared on the Pharmaphorum to provide some much needed guidance for organisers and participants.

First things first, there is a need for a hashtag (eg #hcsm) – my recent event experience had no hashtag event and perhaps this should have been a warning sign. Angela provides excellent tips for selecting a hashtag and making sure it is communicated before, during and after the event. As far as my recent hashtag-less experience went a couple of us made up one on the hoof during the event which is far from ideal, though we did entice some conversation from beyond the four walls.

Angela also provides some excellent advice and tips on using the power of the blogger hub to raise the profile and reach of your conference. These "official" bloggers are often well known in their industry and, as a conference organiser, you would be unwise not to take advantage of Angela’s tips for what to provide in a blogger's hub. There's a good breakdown of tips for bloggers too which I will use as I head to cover events myself.

There are some further insights in part 3 into the development of the unconference and the trend for more panel discussions and Q&A. In my experience this is here to stay. The Guardian provides a good example of a local unconference that they supported earlier this year. It gives insight into how it was organised, where people came from and the successful outcomes.

Just in case you are wondering, I didn’t switch off my phone and continued tweeting. I am giving the organisers of the event I attended the benefit of the doubt that they are just learning about the role of social media and having online conversations. I also offered some advice to the organisers on the impact of social media tools in creating successful events, perhaps as Tim Buckley Owen suggested in his hand-holders wanted post – I wonder if I will hear from them again?

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