8 Tips to Using Social Media in Collaborative Work Events

A short while ago I ran my first 3 day ASE event with twitter embedded as a crucial component to the design. Given that the topic affected a much larger number of people than the participants who were able to physically participate in the event we decided to incorporate a twitter element to the session itself. At the start of the session we were looking for twitter to provide us a platform to…

  1. Spread the work and messages of the event
  2. Enable insight to be generated from outside the participant group

Once we realised that twitter would form an integral part of the event we created a plan to use it which was broadly split into three parts…

  1. Before the event – we would run a campaign to generate interest and start to encourage people to follow the work that was happening in the event.
  2. During the event – we would assign one of our team the responsibility of posing questions that were being discussed by the participant group and of bringing any key questions or input raised on twitter into the physical space.
  3. After the event – we would pull all of the twitter conversations and messages into a consolidated story that would be shared.


Before the event

The most obvious thing for us was to determine a hash tag that would be easily recognisable and simple to follow (We used #GoodCareersGuide for this particular session) . With this created we needed to start spreading the word, we needed to start the event trending. To encourage interest in the event we decided that there were two important stakeholders to engage, each of which would need a slightly different approach.

Subject Matter Experts

During the design for the event a number of topics were identified as being crucial to the success of the work such as gamification and design thinking. Given the range of topics it was not practical to have all subject matter experts physically present for the whole event so it made sense to engage them in the work through the use of twitter. We identified those subject matter experts who we had personal connections with on twitter and invited them to contribute to the event. We shared the hash tag and informed them of when the event would be running. We followed this up by sharing the link to a website explaining what our client did and what they were looking to achieve.

Interested Parties

The second group of stakeholders we wanted to engage in the event were interested parties. This group included those individuals and organisational bodies who might end up using or being impacted by the solution. If you take a systems thinking approach to this group it is hard to identify specific individuals so we took a more open approach by asking prompting questions that would provoke people to think about the topic area and engage if they thought it made sense. Whilst doing this we actively asked people to retweet to their followers to widen the potential group. Lastly we looked to tweet behind the scenes photos and messages that would provide an insight for participants into the preparation going into the event and start to build excitement.

During the Event

During the event it is important to remember that there are a range of physical participants from the “I refuse to use twitter or any form of social media” to “I love social media and will use it at all times of the day”. Whilst extremes are not likely it is important to cater to the whole range and in doing so get as much insight and engagement as possible. For those who didnt want to or weren’t able to use social media we posted questions being raised in the event on our timeline, at the same time we took the most insightful comments and brought them into the physical space by scribing them up on a wall dedicated to thoughts and comments. To ensure that participants were able to see everything tweeted we had a number of LCD screens in the space with a twitter feed linked to the pre determined hashtag. Where appropriate we also looked to feed in comments to conversations that might benefit from the insight. For all participants we started the day by making it clear that we were using social media and informing people how we would be supporting it throughout the session itself. We used signs and graphics around the space to provide participants with twitter details and how they could get connected to our internet. There are well known difficulties of using something like social media in collaborative events as it can be a distraction to those who are engaged and an annoyance to those who are not. We tried to balance this by doing two things:

  1. Engage the unengaged using gamficiations and the subtle introduction of a twitter leaderboard. This was our first attempt at using leaderboards for such an endeavour and whilst we have definitely learned from the experience it it also increased engagement for the competitive participants.
  2. Highlight the distraction of social media. We looked to provide guidance to the participants as to when it was appropriate to use social media and when it was not. This is a difficult topic as it you first have to decide when it is and is not appropriate which isnt easy in itself. Do you allow it in small conversations where the work is less formal but as a smaller group the distraction is felt more greatly or do you allow it in plenary conversations with everyone present where the larger group can accommodate the distraction but it is more obvious to the whole group.


After the event

After the event, we wanted to share the whole event with both the physical and the virtual participants who were following our progress to provide one single point of view. To achieve this we created a story of the event that included the tweets from the participants, we did this using a tool called Storify which enabled us to embed tweets into a written story. In addition to this we have pulled together a marketting video that summarises the event. If you would like to see the Storify we created you can find it here.

8 Tips To Summarise

  1. Think about what you are trying to achieve with social media (spread the word, gain insight or both?)
  2. Plan your social media campaign in 3 parts (before, during and after)
  3. Identify a hash tag for the event and start using it as soon as possible
  4. Identify your audience and engage them on the media you want to use as early as possible
  5. Engage those unengaged in social media during the session (consider gamification tools such as leaderboarded)
  6. Determine when it is and is not appropriate to use social media during the event and tell participants
  7. Use multiple approaches to bring tweets into the event – LCD, ipad, hand written
  8. Summarise the event with a story to bring it to life for those not physically present