The 2009 Staffing Industry Analysts' Executive Forum was a success, at least based on the survey's we received. For those of you who attended, I am sure that you attended the many sessions and were enlightened about all things staffing.
We tried a couple of different things at this year's forum. We had tracks to get people focused on various topics. We tried a special roundtable discussion segmented by type of staffing firm and we Twittered ...
Or is it Tweeting, I am actually not sure. I guess, since several people asked me what Twittering was, I should explain it before I go on. Twitter is a messaging application that one can use to broadcast messages out to 'followers.' It is like chat, but instead of chatting with one person, you are chatting with many people. You can have people interact with you on Twitter, or you can simply broadcast out. Check out Twitter on www.twitter.com.
Here is one marketing person's opinion about Twittering. It is a lot of work. Twittering was an experiment for us at Executive Forum. We weren't sure how it would work, or if people would read our Tweets. You can look at what we wrote by viewing www.twitter.com/execforum. We tried to cover as many sessions as we could and disperse information about the sessions so that those at the forum could get an overview of sessions they didn't attend and those of you not in attendance could get a sense of what was going on.
Using Twitter this way, you are in effect creating a 'live' information feed for the masses. I think it is an interesting social experiment, in the same way on-line dating is for people of a certain age. For those of us who are old enough to remember life without computers, voice mail and smart phones, Twittering might be a little difficult of a concept to grasp. For those of us who grew up with a smart phone out of the womb, Twittering is a natural phenomenon.
Here is the deal; Twitter likes to think of itself as an easy application to set up. Well depending on the type of phone you have, it isn't that easy. Most of us had to download special web applications for our phone, and couldn't use SMS (short message service), as Twitter contends you can. Not only do you have the complexity of downloading the app to your phone, you then have to explain to everyone else how to get Twitter up and running.
After you have figured that out, you actually have to figure out how to say something intelligent in 140 characters or less. We are not chatting with our BFF's (best friends forever) on Facebook here; we are talking to all of you, our customers. We had to pay attention to grammar, spelling, word usage, etc. And let's face it, we made some word blunders.
Did the Experiment Work?
I don't actually know. We had a number of people following us and presumably reading our Tweets, but I don't know if it was an effective medium to deliver the message. It was a lot of work to try and synthesize the information down to sound bites. Instead of listening to the speakers, one was really listening for the sound bite. Others in the audience thought we were rude, because we were on our phones constantly, or at least it felt that way.
I think using Twitter at Executive Forum to try to inform people was a good application. I think giving people information in 'real time' is a good concept, I only wonder if there was a better way of accomplishing the task. Someone mentioned to me that their company uses Twitter as a short 'news feed' I would think this is also a good application of Twitter.
If you want to use Twitter in this way, understand the following:
1. Set it up before you get to the event, test it and make sure it works in the manner in which you want it to work
2. Assign various people to Twitter, it is too hard to make this one person's job. If it were, all they would be doing would be Twittering
3. Inform your constituents what Twitter is and how they could use it. We found out at Executive Forum, that many people didn't know what it was, therefore, it wasn't useful to them
4. Announce in advance that you are going to use it and provide instructions to people on how to log in and respond or read your Tweets
Good luck and I look forward to reading your Tweets.