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Innovative or Irresponsible? CNN News Coverage via Twitter

The events of the last couple of weeks have changed my mind about the role of mainstream media, and to me have uncovered and confirmed some emerging trends in the traditional news scene. Of course a major topic here is the use of Twitter as a news source:

CNN delivers news on a possible Iranian revolution and reconnects with high school friends

Watch John Stewart make merciless fun of CNN’s inept and fumbling Twitter based coverage of the Iran election, but as hilarious (and alarming to some) as this footage is, it is so only if one approaches it with the expectation that CNN act like a traditional source of the news.

Is the emergence of Social Media based news sources gaining legitimacy? Read more

Can Twitter Survive What Is About to Happen to it? I think that is the wrong question…

The explosive rise of Twitter in the last couple of months is giving rise to a couple of phenomena, and to some these trends are harbingers of doom: More than a few people are asking if Twitter can survive what is happening to it, in it’s current form. And the answer is surely that it can, at least from an infrastructure perspective.

I would pose the question differently: How can Twitter continue to deliver value as a meaningmaking and sensemaking tool for its users?

A couple of examples that illustrate what is happening:

Tweepme, a ponzi-like scheme that would have you pay for followers, in return to following everyone else, is causing a lot of controversy with its concept: Ultimately with this concept everyone would follow everyone else, and this becomes meaningless very quickly. Cheryl Harrison writes in her blog that Twitter is not a numbers game:

Is there value in having a large, worthless network on Twitter?  While I might not agree with it 100%, I can see the value of connecting with everyone on LinkedIn – in the most direct benefit, this lets you contact other people to whom they are connected for free, without having to pay for InMails and whatnot. But on Twitter – you just crank up the noise and turn down the substance.

At the SXSW conference in Austin Texas, the traditional paradigm of having a Twitter based backchannel to find interesting topics and keep up with what was happening was made meaningless by the sheer volume of tweeps coming through the service. Stacey Higginbotham writes in her piece Forget the Fail Whale: Twitter Jumps the Shark

Twitter is still up and running, but the idea of generating a real time picture of what folks are doing, and extracting relevant information from that picture, is kind of like trying to pick out your grandma at the Washington Mall on the satellite image taken during President Barack Obama’s inauguration. It’s easy to see that a lot of folks were there, and hard to find that one thing you’re looking for.

The trend is apparent: Twitter, as we know it, is about to change. And, to use another shark metaphor, it needs to “keep swimming”  to stay alive; it needs to keep evolving in order to provide meaning to its users.

So the question raises itself: How can Twitter continue to provide “meaning” for its users? Read more

5 ideas for improving Twitter use in workshops and conference settings

Here at Positive Matrix we have been giving a lot of thought to how to get better value out using Twitter in a workshop or conference setting, and we’d like to share some ideas how to optimize not only the technology, but the process and protocol surrounding the use of Twitter in such as setting.

Using a Twitter backchannel is nothing new, but seems to be increasing in use. This week alone there were several examples, the “Demo09” conference used a Facebook live video stream with integrated Twitter chat, and this feature became a reference tool for Chris Shipley, who was running the conference and referred to the Twitter streamed comments repeatedly in the conference hall.

In New York City, Union Square Ventures held the “Hacking Education” workshop, a 6hr round table discussion with no panels or presenters, just face to face discussion. This year, however, they added Twitter to the mix, and Fred Wilson, VC and Principal behind Union Square Ventures, writes on his blog:

At the start of the event, most of the messages on the Twitter screen were coming from the room. David Wiley, John Bischke, and Jeff Jarvis where effectively liveblogging the event. It was interesting to see what nuggets they “pulled” from the discussion and shared with the outside world.

It is hard to moderate a conversation of 40 people and there are times when several people want to make a point but one gets the opportunity. I started to notice that the others would simply post their thought to twitter instead which allowed the rest of the room to see what they wanted to say in parallel with the point that was being made live.

So within an hour of the start of the event, we had a very lively discussion flowing on Twitter. Then I saw people outside of the event start to take notice and send out notes to their followers that the discussion on the #hackedu tag was getting interesting. That brought quite a few new people to the Twitter stream that were not in the room.

We have some experience with this, since Positive Matrix is itself a workshop facilitation tool we’ve been using to conduct workshops and conferences for the last 5 years. Positive Matrix allows attendees to participate either directly with wireless keyboards in the room, or remotely via PCs or via linked conference hubs with their own keyboard setup. Although Positive Matrix can be a closed system for registered participants only, like Twitter, everyone is able to see what everyone else is typing on a large projected screen.

So here are some things we have learned, and will apply to our own Twitter enabled workshops and conferences:

1.) The Technology alone is not enough

The speed and gamut of incoming brainstorming ideas and rapid flow of micro-blog thoughts popping up on the screen is made possible through technology, but allowing the group to process these thoughts requires a protocol that introduces opportunity and the space for consideration, clarification, appreciation, understanding, synergy, consensus. Only this allows a group to ultimately convert these ideas into shared knowledge or action points.

2.) Enhance the Experience with a  Social Protocol

One way we do this is to adhere to a “talk, type, read, review” protocol for each agenda item. Agenda items are first discussed in round table fashion, and micro-blogging thougts during this time is optional. However, we then create extra time to “write”, and people have the opportunity to contribute their ideas without parallel central conversation going on.

Subsequently the “Read” protocol is a step to read (out loud) and review the content and ideas that are on the screen. This step is an essential democratization aspect for those who did not get to make their point during the conversation. It acknowledges everyones feedback and gives the group time for further consideration. We find this process is often the catalyst for more, and better quality ideas.

3.) Sensemaking by Identifying Themes

Fred Wilson observed in his “Hack Education” event:

…I think we should have tried to loop the conversation happening outside of the room back into the room. Maybe have one person whose job it is to pull the most interesting tweets coming from outside the room and feed them into the conversation.

We address this with what we feel has been a useful activity: For each agenda item, we go through the content on the screen and ask particpants to identify and micro-blog their thoughts on common themes that have emerged. While the input during the brainstorming phase is often raw and somewhat unfocused, we find the quality of input increases dramatically during this step. In this sense-making step the participants review the knowledge gathered so far.  The facilitator asks for themes or poses questions to guide the thought process or aid in the decision-making.  Examples of questions the facilitator can pose at this point:

  • What does this mean for the issue?
  • What does this say about our culture, our leadership our values etc?.
  • What are the emerging themes?
  • What patterns do you see?
  • What are our collective strengths?
  • Where do we need to focus our attention?
  • What are the next steps, timeframes, resource needs etc?

4.) Use of Tweetdeck for Breakout Sessions

To enable breakout sessions, I would propose to create Twitter hashtags for each group or table, and then use Tweetdeck as the twitter application to project on the screen. Dedicated Tweetdeck columns can be set up to filter by hashtag, and this will allow each breakout group to work within their own dedicated column.

5.) Attention to the Physical Room Setup

For workshops a venue with a circular seating arrangement is preferrable, as it fosters conversation. However this can make it difficult for participants to see the screen if there is only one. So having at least 2 large screens, and a series of laptops all running a Twitter client like Tweetdeck is essentail. Again to quote Fred Wilson:

I think there should be at least two large screens so that nobody has their back to the Twitter stream.

We will be writing more, especially as we are looking to use our Positive Matrix experience to brainstorm and design dedicated “Twitter Powered” conferencing and workshop software, filling the gap that Twitter currently has when compared to tools that can not only conduct workshops, but also introduce structured agendas and provide post workshop reporting capabilities.

Interested? What else is going on in this space?  We would love to talk: @JuergenB and @RobbieCat

Debunking some social media myths: Women Over 55 Take Facebook by Storm

Here are some encouraging statistics:

For anyone thinking that Facebook, and “Social Media” in general, is a phenomenon for younger people only, think again!

Does anyone still believe this may be a male dominated and predominantly geeky space? Think again!

Women over 55 are the largest growth statistic on Facebook, and Women outnumber men in every category.

Now, I would love to have these statistics on Twitter!


The number of US women over age 55 using Facebook grew by 175.3% since September 2008, making mature females one of the fastest growing demographic groups on the social network, according to usage statistics released by independent blog Inside Facebook.

The number of men over age 55 also grew dramatically during the same four-month period (up 137.8%), but women over 55 still outnumber men in this age group by almost two-to-one.

Key Facebook stats as of Feb. 1, 2009, from Inside Facebook:

  • There are 45.3 million active US Facebook users.
  • The number of Facebook users are growing in every age/gender demographic.
  • Facebook use among women is growing faster than among men in nearly every age group.
  • The fastest growing age group by total users is 26-34-year-olds; 45% of Facebook’s US audience is now 26 years old or older.

Older Users Fuel US Audience Growth

Facebook’s US audience has continued to grow in recent months, fueled primarily by those ages 26+, said Inside Facebook. In particular, the network has rapidly gained popularity in the US with people 45+, growing by more than 165% among both men and women in the last four months.

Women Outnumber Men

Overall, women (56.2%) on Facebook in the US outnumber men in every age group. This number is up from 54.3% late last year.

Read more

Yes, We Plan: How Altruism and Advertising Could Change the World

Here is a very interesting idea of using crowd sourcing concepts, combined with social media tools,  to engage, organize and motivate people to actually accomplish something positive and altruistic, by helping them move beyond “just talk” or “joining groups”, and by enabling and empowering them into action in a novel way.

I think that if successful, any tools that in large daunting projects help break down and reduce the scope into doable chunks, would have much wider applications in our lives both at home and at work.

I think we could all use help in moving forward with the meta projects in our life.

Ifranworldfounders

Marketing veteran Cindy Gallop and software developer Wendell Davis are on a quest to make the world a better place, with a crowdsourcing project to motivate people to do big things by taking small bites. Their theory: Small, good intentions can bring about great leaps.

Gallop is the former global marketing chief and U.S. chairman for the BBH marketing behemoth that ran campaigns for Levi’s, Axe Body Spray and other brands. She’s joining with former Splice and Zooomr CEO Davis (pictured) to accomplish this lofty task one piece at a time. They’ll encourage corporations to work with the customers they seek, as the community tackles a user-generated database of large and small causes.

Their unlaunched site, IfWeRantheWorld.com, should succeed in giving online activism some sorely-needed teeth. Rather than raising awareness, the site is set up to convert intent into action, to get things done. As a side effect, it could reinvent advertising as a transparent interaction between corporations and individuals.

“The single largest pool of untapped resource in this world is human good intentions that never translate into action,” said Gallop, who founded the company with Davis two years ago after digital guru Esther Dyson introduced them. Gallop says current do-gooder networks make it too hard to find achievable, concrete tasks that fit one’s skill set, time and budget — and that offer instant gratification.

“For a large amount of the world, doing good is fundamentally very, very boring,” explained Gallop. “If you go to the homepage of something like DoSomething.org, or any one of the many [like it], there is an instant yawn factor -– ‘I know this is really good stuff, I should be doing it, but I’m half asleep already.”

“There is no Google of action,” she added.

IfWeRantheWorld.com breaks even the largest goodwill projects (“feed Darfur”) down into discrete tasks, which it distributes to members through a commercially supported, socially networked environment. When people have the urge to act on something that irritates them about the world, they can actually do something. Their plan (more below) not only impressed us, but also Dyson, who said it will create “a liquidity of goodness.” Former Google executive Katie Jacobs Stanton, who joined the Obama administration as “director of citizen participation,” heard about the plan from Gallop at the TED conference last month.

Read more

Six Steps For Using Twitter For Your Conference Or Event

Twitter Trumps Online Conference – Six Steps For Using Twitter For Your Conference Or Event

I recently read the below post by Jeff Hurt (@JeffHurt) about the use of Twitter at conferences.

My wife and I own a groupware collaboration company with a multi-input chat feature using hand-held wireless keyboards (see our partner site Positive Matrix), and we have been pondering how the advent of advanced Twitter tools is shaping the future of participatory and collaborative workshops.

We will be posting more on this topic.

I recently attended the American Society of Association Professionals (ASAE) three-day online conference for small staff associations. With 22,000 members, nearly 50% of them from small-staff associations, many consider ASAE the “go-to” association for association leaders.

For three days, I joined coworkers in our “War Room” (conference room) to view the PPT on our large plasma screen (ASAE chose not to use the webinar portion), interact with the live chat, listen to the audio on the conference phone and talk with one another during the presentation. Many of us brought our mobile devices too so we could answer email, chat and send tweets as needed. This was a familiar setting and situation, as I plan similar events for our own members.

Once the conference began, the dynamics in the room were amazing: we were listening to the presentation, debriefing comments as they were being said, typing in the live chat and sending tweets. Those walking by our War Room saw a frenzied team in hyper-overdrive, on high alert, working and talking at once.

On day one, we sat through two painful presentations: one very disorganized and one with some inaccurate and outdated information. Both of these presentations dealt with low-cost or free technology strategies and web tools.

On day two, we decided to turn to the Twittersphere to see if other social media mavens and gurus agreed with what ASAE was presenting. As we tweeted ASAE positions or statements, the Twitter and social media pros began to respond to us with facts, data, reports and articles contradicting what ASAE had said. Some of their responses were:

  • @ replies (replies directly to us) or
  • DM (private direct text messages).
  • And some were RT (retweets) where I reposted their tweet to the entire Twittersphere.

I was hoping someone from ASAE was listening, following our conversations, or had their Google Alerts or TweetBeep set so they would know we were tweeting about them. No one from ASAE replied.

While this conversation occurred on Twitter, something else was happening in Facebook (FB). My Twitter updates my FB status with each tweet and my 180+ friends were posting comments on my FB page about my online conference experiences. My friends, family and colleagues–many nonprofit employees and volunteers themselves–started sharing their negative feelings about ASAE. The floodgates had been opened.

On the final day of the online conference, we live tweeted the presentation and watched the power of Twitter at work. The final presenter, more polished and charismatic than the others, began to make broad brushstrokes about generational behavior and offended two of my colleagues. It went down hill from there as his slidedeck contained information that was three-ten years old, especially when discussing social media applications.

The passion in the room was hot. Two of us immediately begin to tweet statements by the presenter. Here’s where the magic and mystic of the Twitterverse began. The following are some of the tweets I posted and received during the last two days of the ASAE conference.

My Tweet: ASAE Online conf presenter: ASAE feels need 2 control Peer2Peer conversations & social media on website so they limit it. Huh? Really? Sad.

Response Chirp, chirp: DMA nonprofit social media conf last week top tip: get past fear not bing n control Ur passionate fans will support U said a tweet from Austin.

Chirp, chirp: Mobile media to reach and engage people, success stories said a tweet from DC with a tinyurl to a video of a presentation from 1/09.

Chirp, chirp: Brand should involve customer engagement, transparency, listening, honesty said a tweet from United Kingdom with a tinyurl to an article written that day.

Tweet: ASAE online presenters: Recommending listservs & vbulletin 2 small nonprofits 4 way to max webiste? How 1980’s. ASAE: time 2 reinvent urself

Chirp, chirp: Your kidding, right? WordPress would be a better choice than that said a tweet from Chicago

Chirp, chirp: Here’s a list of free or low cost website platforms that are better than listservs said a tweet from NYC with a tinyurl to a blog posting.

Tweet: ASAE presenter recommends tell a friend link on every pg of website 4 sm nonprofits. Hmm perhaps he means widgets like share this?

Chirp, chirp: Soc Media tie 2 behavior & revolution n trusted references not tell a friend said a tweet from Atlanta with a tinyurl to a presentation from a recent Social Media Conference in San Francisco.

Chirp, chirp: Disagree. Better ways to “share this” info than “tell a friend” said a tweet from tech guru in OKC.

Chirp, chirp: Disagree. New tools to use for sharing information said a tweet from Singapore with a tinyurl to a list of references.

Tweet: ASAE online conf mrktg session promoting gen differences 4 mrktg = creating diff mrktg pieces based on audience age. Agree or disagree?

Chirp, chirp: Disagree. Check 12/08 report from Pew Charity &Trust on tech use by age said tweet from San Francisco that included a tinyurl to the report.

Chirp, chirp: Disagree. Social media crosses all generations. Myth that it’s only for youth said a tweet from a Florida researcher with a tinyurl to a 1/09 PPT presentation.

At the end of the last day, we were all amazed at our Twitter experience. We felt connected to a new breed of professionals, the Twitterati, like never before and we saw the amazing power of instant feedback from social media applications like Twitter.

Looking back on this experience, here are some tips that I recommend for those planning conferences and events both online and face to face.

1. Embrace and use DIMTY and WIIFM from the beginning!

Attendees are more finicky than ever and will not sit passively if you try to sell outdated, poorly organized or inaccurate information. If they don’t experience DIMTY (Do I Matter To You: survey them before you create the content) and WIIFM (What Is In This For Me) quickly, they will leave. Use Twitter to start collecting information early. Ask followers questions and ask them to RT your questions to others. You’ll get replies from people with real time information. Use PollDaddy to set up Twitter polls and get results. This will benefit your content development and help establish more followers as well.

2. Establish a hashtag for your event so that your followers can easily watch and search the conversations.

Hashtags are a pound sign followed by a term. Example: MPI established #meetdifferent for their recent MD09 conference. Hashtags help keep track of tweets that are all part of a single subject, event or topic. First, follow @hashtags on Twitter. They will follow you back automatically and your hashtags will be tracked. Next, start using hashtags in your tweets, preceding key words. It can be helpful to do a little research first, to find out if the subject you’re tweeting already has an established hashtag. You don’t need to do anything special to use a hashtag, just make one up and tell folks to use it if you want them to tag their tweets for your event or discussion. If you head to Twitter Search and type in the full hashtag, you can track all the tweets related to that term. Or go to hashtags.org and put in your hashtags words and follow the tweets using that hashtag.

3. Start using Twitter weeks, even months, before your event to build followers, buzz and energy. Use it during and after the event as well.

Link your Twitter account to your Web site and include it in all your electronic and print marketing materials. Invite people to begin following you and send tweets with information more than just press releases or marketing several times a day. Start retweeting (RT) what some of your followers tweet. A RT is like paying someone a compliment and will get you passionate, avid supporters. Send tweets during the event as reminders, announcements and any changes. Ask the CEO and Executive Director to tweet a couple times a day as well to their followers.

4. Encourage your attendees to tweet during the live event.

Encourage your attendees to send tweets during the event and create a TwitterFountain which mashes Twitter tweets and Flckr images, collected with your established #hashtag. Put your TwitterFountain on your event home page for everyone to see. As Tweeps tweet their thoughts and comments about your event, they’ll build more followers for you and they’ll engage in Peer2Peer learning as well. Also, consider projecting the live text or Twitter stream during the presentation with an application like Wifitti. (They have a beta that’s even cooler.) All you need is a live internet connection, laptop and LCD projector and you’re set to project everyone’s comments and questions. We’ve used it successfully for large meetings to engage our audience with immediate

5. Let your employees have a personality as they send tweets.

Assign your Twitter account to one employee and empower him/her to tweet for the organization. Don’t assign multiple people to one account, your audience will see that and cry foul. Turn your employee into your evangelists and ask them to help you in the process. Associations and companies, it’s time to drop the top-down reign of control and allow your employees to have a personality and share it with the world. Let them have a sense of humor. Don’t try to control the brand because you can’t with Twitter and most social media apps. If you do try to control it, your Tweeps will turn on you.

6. Use transparency and honesty, and apologize quickly when you’re wrong.

Attendees will no longer swallow their truth when angered or frustrated and will turn to social media to let everyone know what you’ve done. On the flip side, do it right, and they’ll become avid supporters. If you offend an attendee, hide behind a brand, spin poor planning or don’t engage the attendee, don’t expect them to keep quiet. WOM has moved to WOI (Word of Internet) and there are many more eyes that can read what’s being posted. Apologize quick and fast or risk the wrath of many.

Use these tips and you’ll see a new kind of buzz emerge for your conference and event. The Twittersphere is very patient to beginners so go ahead and give it a try.

By the way, I’ve been an ASAE member for two years and a constituent of their services for more than 12 years. I also recently signed up to follow ASAE’s Twitterfeed from their Technology Conference, which was “outed” by members for not being transparent, honest or having a personality. (See Why All The Secrecy? A Story Of Attempted Brand Jacking for ASAE’s ongoing failed attempts at using Twitter in social media.) We’ll see if they get it right for future conferences or events.

About the Author: Jeff Hurt is Director of Education & Events for National Association of Dental Plans and has worked in events/nonprofit arena for more than 20 years including Keep America Beautiful as a consultant/trainer/writer, Keep Texas Beautiful, Education Coordinator, Professional Development Manger for Meetings Professional Internationa and Professional Development Manger for Promotional Products Association International. He has also served on the Board of Directors for Black Tie in North Texas and as a volunteer for several other local charities and organizations.

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