textingI’m torn. I appreciate and understand the value of live tweeting events and conferences, but I bring to question the overall value at stake.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there is incredible value to incorporating tweets around large national events such as the Inauguration where millions of people are looking for a channel to interact, engage and discuss. CNN and Facebook did a superb job with their combined live stream tweet function on Inauguration Day. A similar excellent effort took place on Twitter on Election Day.

BUT, I’m far more in favor of reading a thorough blog post the following day that carefully analyzes an event and adds constructive insight or criticism to what went down.

More specifically, I’m pulling off my experience a couple weeks ago at BlogWell when attendees were using the #BlogWell hashtag to live tweet about the presentations they were viewing. I admit that the hashtag was great for seeing who was attending the event and categorizing conversation, but sending tweets during a presentation was not top of mind for me.

Call me old school, but I wanted to soak in everything each presenter had to say. I jotted notes and listened intently so that I could later pull all my thoughts together. In addition, I wanted to use the conference to actually connect face-to-face with some people that I connect regularly with online.

David Mullen recently had a similar experience while watching the Super Bowl that I found spot on. I joined in on the live-tweeting analysis of the various ads being played during the Super Bowl before quickly realizing my mistake. I was spending more time firing off tweets than actually paying attention to the ads and chatting with friends in the room about the excellent game. I found it to be much more enjoyable once I put away the computer and opted to check out a couple ad analysis posts the following day.

I valued live human interaction and engagement more than online? Go figure. As wired as we all are, it’s still crucial to make sure we unplug and now and again.

So, I pose the big question…

Live event tweeting – is it worth it or are we wasting time providing 140-character updates that aren’t sufficient to contextualize the big picture of what’s happening?


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Join the conversation! 7 Comments

  1. I’m not a big fan of live-tweeting. Here’s why…

    1. There’s usually no room in a 140-character tweet to provide context. At least 50% of the live tweets that show up in my stream are confusing because there’s no context. And it takes too long to track down and read all the previous tweets from that person.

    2. If I try to tweet what’s going on, I totally miss what just happened. I tried this with the Twebinars that Chris Brogan and David Alston set up this summer. I thought it was a great idea, but after 10 minutes I stopped looking at the event’s tweetstream. I was completely missing everything that was just said while trying to read what others thought about had been said 2 minutes ago.

    3. If enough people live-tweet from an event, Twitter may crash for the rest of us (hello, first day of CES). Maybe I’m being selfish, but Twitter was completely useless for me that day.

    Just my take, but I know I miss the event if I’m too focused on live tweeting it. I’d rather soak it all in and go write a thoughtful blog post that puts it all in perspective that night. That’s more beneficial for me and I think it’s more beneficial for those fine folks I’m connected to on Twitter and my blog.

  2. spot on. we already suffer attention deficit. and trying to listen for the next 140 char tweet sound bite and digest the info is, I believe, impossible.

    Lets remember as well that the presenters weren’t just hanging around waiting for a gig. They were invited, they prepared, attention should be paid to content. Not happy with content, then leave the room, that’s what I say.

    Tweet after event when all the info has sunk in and the tweet may actually be useful. Ppl dont need more soundbites, there are far too many of them already.

    for that same reason I advocate that ppl do not tweet during face to face meetings either. if they want to (or email or text) they can leave the room 🙂

  3. I’m a huge fan of people live-tweeting…for selfish reasons.

    I’ll admit that I’m not the best live-tweeter because if you’re truly focused on that it’s hard to be engaged in what is going on where you are.

    I do, however, try to do it when I can for those who wanted to come but could not make it. I have benefited from that several times. Even though I’m not there, I still feel like I am getting the most important pieces and that’s a great feeling when you get caught at work but still want to be a part of something going on across the street, the city, the state or the nation.

    James S. Walker

  4. Good Question

    Well it is worth indeed.

    2 reasons above all in my honest opinion:

    – You give the chance to those not physically attending the event to participate. As more platforms are integrating twitter tags with video streaming e.g. from conferences it is increasingly easy to follow events online.
    At LeWeb08 I wasn’t in Paris but had the chance to follow the event and most of all network through twitter with people I still follow today.

    – If you are actually attending the event and live tweet, apart from granting access to others, you actually put in writing what you are hearing. It becomes a sort of note-taking mantra that is here to stay. On the other hand, just listening may prevent you from elaborate on the concept and further develop it with your first impression

    As I have manage events with live tweeting I can also say that from an event management standpoint that it is becoming an extremely valued resource for event professionals. In fact tweets give you immediate feedback on what you are doing as well more information on attendees profiles.

    There is obviously more than this in terms of enhanced networking between attendees as well as giving access to the less privileged.

    I rephrase the question and ask if event managers should put staff in charge of tweeting? Yes, definitely. Then I’ll leave attendees twittering to their networking/note-taking motivation.


  5. I think live tweeting requires the same skill as trad’l media covering breaking new–the ability to simultaneously experience and report on an event. But not everyone has that gift so not everyone should live tweet. Sadly, not everyone is self aware enough to know if they’d make a good live tweeter. That being said, I agree that live tweeting is more useful for those that are following a particular event from afar than those in the room. And personally, I think I’d get more out of reading a post-event blog post by someone who really paid attention and took good notes about everything that was going on in the room.

  6. Great insight all around, thank you all for the thoughtful comments.

  7. I think it depends on the event, how much you want/need to get out of it and whether or not you feel that your personal network will benefit from the information. My live tweeting from a presentation by Peter Shankman consisted of several interesting quips, for which he is so famous. When I heard something i knew I wanted to blog about, I stopped the live tweets and took a few notes to jog my memory. Same at conferences. Sometimes I’m taking notes on my laptop and will just copy and paste some of the notes and tweet them as I see fit. I think we have to keep in mind that we own how we choose to do any of this. Perhaps you are an intermittent live twitterer, or one who tweets a simple summary. There is no one-size-fits all with social media. Do what feels right for you.

    Angela Connor | @communitygirl


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