A conference can be a fairly exhausting experience, and if you’ve been preparing for days and then tweeting throughout it’s perfectly understandable that, on leaving the venue, you want to switch off and spend some time away from the backchannel.
But to be a really valuable contributor, you need to switch back on and engage again before too long. There are a few simple things you can do in the days following an event to cement your reputation for brilliant backchannel sharing and to get the most out of the experience for yourself.
- Say thank you
Take the time to thank the people who engaged with you during the event. There are lots of ways to do this, and I’m still working out what’s best. At the moment, I tend to send individual thank you tweets to anyone who I really conversed with online or who regularly retweeted my content. I always make sure to include what I’m saying thanks for: ‘Thanks for all your RTs and conversation during #learningevent’ is more meaningful and personal than ‘Thanks for the RT!’ Even better would be something like: ‘Thanks for your RTs and for discussion of Twitter etiquette during #learningevent’. I also send group thank you messages to people who retweeted me once or twice.
There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but doing something is just good manners. For some more ideas, take a look at this post exploring when and how to thank people on Twitter in a bit more detail.
- Deliver on promises
Even with the most thorough preparation, you’ll probably find there are times during the event where you don’t have all the information. It might be the author of a book, the Twitter handle of someone who’s mentioned, a link to a website or video… Whatever it is, if you said you’d find something, do it. Find the missing information, tweet it and tag it with the same hashtag for continuity. If it related to a question or request from someone in particular, make sure you include their Twitter handle in your follow-up.
You might have made other promises, too: to connect two people you think would be useful to one another, for example, or to arrange a meeting with a new acquaintance. Review your Twitter mentions and messages from the duration of the event, and follow up on anything you need to.
- Don’t abandon the backchannel
The backchannel doesn’t end when the event ends. People will be revisiting it for a few days as they catch up on sessions they missed at the time, and conversations will continue. Be part of those conversations: drop by every now and then to see what new resources or questions there are, and keep contributing. If you blog about the event or about something inspired by it, tweet the link into the hashtag stream. Or you might want to create a permanent record of the backchannel by creating a Tweetdoc or something similar.
Collating or curating all the resources from the backchannel into one place is a great way to add value to the community after an event. David Kelly is the king of this and has numerous examples and tips on his blog. I had a go myself after Future of Learning, but learnt the hard way that this needs to be done very soon after the event otherwise all that good stuff vanishes into the ether!
(This guide is an expanded version of a post originally published as part of the eLearning Network’s 24 tips, in December 2012.)