How to display tweets at your event
or Facebook updates, or Instagram pics...
Events are great for meeting new people and having interesting conversations. Hey, they might even be better than Twitter, but who knows?
Luckily, you can have your cake and eat it by displaying a wall or ‘waterfall’ of tweets at your next event. This way anyone who uses the event hashtag or mentions the event promoter’s handle in a tweet will have their tweet appear at the event.
This is now the norm at many tech meet-ups and conferences; basically any event that includes a Q&A aspect. Over the last two years they have become so easy to do, we could start to see them at smaller, more casual gatherings as a way for event goers to stay in touch and set the conversation.
Why should you display the tweets at your event?
As well as providing a physical space for people to share ideas and meet, events have another, potentially much larger life online.
The good ol’ positive side-effects (or overt motives for you marketer types) of running events are still true today: you can generate leads and the event and the organiser will reach a new audience, but these positives are magnified not seven, but seven times seven times over when the conversation happens online as well.
With this new, far larger audience you can incorporate all of the interesting and unexpected conversations that happen on Twitter into the event itself.
Which tools should you use?
There are plenty of free options as well as paid services overloaded with features, but more recently, a lot of apps have grown from just displaying tweets to actively encouraging specific audience participation like voting or responding directly to speakers.
Also the many changes to Twitter’s API over the years have meant many of the smaller, stripped-down services have since disappeared, so this list is at least up-to-date at the time of writing (March 2014).
As favoured by 3 Beards for their Chew the Fat events among others, Sli.do is built with event Q&As in mind, with the audience able to vote questions up or down, answer polls and boasts an integration with Prezi, so particularly ambitious speakers can incorporate audience participation into their talks.
As you may have guessed, this is Hootsuite’s version, and just like Hootsuite, it’s pretty feature-packed. it will scale to whatever size of screen you’ve got, and it has a ‘Profanity Filter’ to filter out any swearing (although I haven’t put this to the test with any unusual spelling or swearing).
You can customise the feed to display your company name, logo, and the colour scheme to reflect the branding of the event.
One of the originators and still going, Tweetwall is trusted by a lot of big tech brands, and is also fully customisable to reflect your brand, and won’t throw a wobbly if you lose internet connection momentarily (oh, the joys of wifi).
As well as a default profanity filter, you can set your own filters and do some realtime moderation, by blocking keywords or even spammy users. Tweetwall will try to do all of this for you automatically of course. Another neat aspect is the leaderboard: here you can see what community managers love to call brand advocates.
Another one that’s been around for donkeys years, Tweetwally (I guess the name they wanted was taken, huh) is a little more limited in options, and to be honest I’ve found it a little buggy. For me, the profanity filter/ability to block spammers is a make or break feature.
Perhaps the oldest? Difficult to say, but this is certainly the first place I came across this concept and good to see that they keep on trucking. Perhaps not the prettiest twitter stream on the block, Twitterfall is still reasonably customisable, and you get all of the normal features of Twitter - RTing, favouriting and replying and so on, from within it.
An ‘ interactive Twitter visualization’ (probably best you try it out to find out what that means), Tweetbeam got a bit of notice when Incubus (remember them?!) used it for a ‘participatory media exhibit and real-time documentary that allowed unprecedented fan access and interaction with the band as they prepared for the release of their seventh studio album.’ Crikey.
It’s great if you want to display the fact that people are tweeting but perhaps aren’t too keen to see exactly what they are saying. To be honest, this kind of tweet visualisation is ripe for someone clever to do something really beautiful and exciting with it.
All of the features! Wall of Tweets is at the premium end of things, as it includes all of the features mentioned above, as well as training and support to set it up, and in-house designers to skin it up with your brand (which seems to be the main selling point). Be warned, however, Wall of Tweets is not free, and there is no pricing information on their site.
Want to display more than just tweets?
Trusted by big-name consumer brands, and working particularly well for sports teams, Tint gives you a permanent place to moderate and display user-generated content. Your Tint is a grid of all social media feeds that mention you, be they page, handle, hashtag or playlist.
From the people that brought you Wall of Tweets, Pulse Wall displays (deep breath) tweets, Facebook updates, images from Flickr and Instagram, Foursquare check-ins, and probably whatever other obscure social update you can think of.
You can exploit and display all of this information in any way you see fit; in a public display or in something like a RSS feed, or make some pretty graphs with all of your data. Where it gets interesting (possibly) is the ability to use it to update your attendees about changes to the event as they happen.
Think we missed one? Let us know which tools you like for displaying tweets.