Cannot Get to a Conference? Get on Twitter

Being in the industry of search, I wish I could get to numerous conferences and seminars worldwide.  Living in the UK means it is not feasibly possible to travel to all these events, for example, PubCon’s two events in the US and one in Europe. SMX has several events worldwide, and there are a handful of SES events also. To send a representative everywhere would cost a good portion of a company’s budget.

I have been actively twittering since the start of January 2009. I thought I’d give it a good shot (this is too ‘slang’ for article writing, you need something else here) and just after I logged on, it seemed the rest of the world heard about Twitter and had to get involved. Big TV and Radio personalities in the UK mentioned it on their prime time shows, which led to an influx of people joining the site. There are now upward of 6 million users on Twitter and there are always plenty of Twitter users at the events I want to go to. Funnily enough they take their laptops and smartphones into the events with them.

I am an avid TweetDeck user; it is without doubt the best Twitter application out there. Primarily for the search feature, you can set up a column to search every tweet for a particular keyword or hashtag and continue to monitor and update the column as and when new tweets are posted. Hashtags are a way of tagging your tweet with a # sign followed by a short word / acronym.

Seemingly, even weeks before many of the events start, the hashtags already start to come through. Take for example, the week I am writing this post. There is ad:Tech in Sydney, Australia, and PubCon South in Austin, TX; about 2 weeks prior to this week’s events I started monitoring the hashtags #adtech and #pubcon. They already had tweets coming in with people saying things like “Really looking forward to PubCon this year #pubcon” and “Just booked my hotel room for this years #adtech” and messages similar to that so it was obvious what hastags would be popular on the days of the events.

Today (11th March 09) was day one of PubCon in Austin, Texas; in the UK I had to wait until 2pm for Guy Kawasaki and Chris Brogans Keynote “Fireside Talk”. As 2pm (UK Time, 9am CDT) hit, the news started coming in and people began tweeting the key things that were coming out of the Keynote. Itis like everyone at the event is a live news reporter broadcasting globally to an audience of Twitter users. For me and many others who cannot get to these events, Twitter is now the number 1 resource for up to the minute information.

My calendar is now fully set up with the rest of the year’s events; this will enable me to monitor as it happens news. Tomorrow (12th March 09) we have Google’s Celebrity to the Webmaster World Matt Cutts’ Keynote at 2pm (UK Time, 9am CDT) and I will be closely monitoring the #pubcon hashtag. It is at times like this where I feel Twitter is really beneficial to people when they monitor their peers in their industry sector.

The guest post is by Shane Jones