James Mayes

Why Twitter? The Backchannel – #trumanchester

In Personal Development, Recruitment, Social Media, Twitter on September 10, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I regularly get asked about the value of Twitter and as you’d expect, I can talk for hours on the subject.  One particular favourite though, remains the backchannel.  It’s always easier to explain when there’s a real-time event happening that people can plug into, so I suggested recently that those sceptical should follow #trumanchester this week.  Now the event itself is over, I want to take a quick look back, including a few stats.

For those who haven’t been involved, #trumanchester was a two-day unconference focussed on the recruitment industry (8/9th Sept). Subjects include technology, process, candidate experience and particularly, Social Media. Organised by Bill Boorman, the event was attended by circa 85 people representing the UK, USA, Netherlands, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Ireland!.

In the week surrounding the event (4th-10th Sept), there were 296 tweeters using the #trumanchester hashtag, producing 2160 tweets.

Bearing in mind the number of attendees, it’s clear that many of those tweeters weren’t there in person.  Probably more still if one considers many Twitter users don’t actually tweet much, they simply consume. The top ten tweeters produced over 1000 tweets between them. Regardless of their regular followers, these people managed to broadcast their personal brand & message to a seriously focussed audience.

If you check out the transcript over the actual two days of the event, you’ll notice many comments and questions coming in from outside the room. Often, these are from thought leaders in the industry who couldn’t be present. They’re keeping themselves up to date, driving the debate in a particular direction, raising their own profile – whatever the reason, they’re deriving value from the backchannel and adding quality to the event as a whole.

For me, the backchannel has become a key element of any event, whether I’m there in person or not. If it’s not something you’ve investigated before, I urge you to do so in future! Two acknowledgements I should make: first, stats and transcript produced via WTHashtag. Second, kudos to @billboorman for recognising the value of live blogging and backchannel curation – bringing @lesanto in to drive this aspect added a huge amount of value.

  1. Excellent.

    I co-host #custserv every Tuesday night with @MarshaCollier and a few unofficial co-hosts.

    We’ve been doing this since the last week of December 09, with weekly changing topics in Customer Service.

    Some back-channel stats:
    We have participants from five continents now.
    In the last 22 weeks we’ve put down over 30,000 tweets on the this hashtag, all about customer service.
    Our participants range from consumers to C-Level execs of Fortune 500 companies.

    It’s very useful to check the back-channel in Twitter.

  2. […] understands the value of the backchannel. I wrote a review of this for one of his previous events here – but if I understand correctly, it’ll be worth installing Layar on your smartphone if […]

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