You can read up on the background of the experiment in my previous post titled Twitter and R8it, our own social rating experiment Part 1. In short, we wanted to experiment with twitter to see how we could help raise Macadamian's visibility at conferences using twitter and its infrastructure. I encourage you to view the app at r8it.macadamian.com to put the information below in context.
So What Did We Learn?
There is a lot of information shared on a conference channel - or hash tag. We thought we could tap all those eyeballs to raise our profile. The short of it is we have learned a thing or two about twitter and we have lots to learn.
Raising One's Profile Means Participating in a Big Way
Engaging the tweeter audience is more than one tweet here and there. Since twitter is more like a conversation, the tweet frequency is important. In our context we made the assumption that rating one's experience at a conference would be something people would want to do AND would raise our profile. A tweet sent every hour or so, after a talk, or when visiting a booth, doesn't accomplish that.
Tweeting frequently with good content will drive engagement of people attending the conference and drum up new followers for you.
The Twitter Flow - Integrate With It
Tweeting is a lot of work if you want to make a business out of it. The more effective you are at it, the better, and the better your experience at the conference will be and the more you will actually learn, as opposed to being distracted by your tweeting activity.
Our application forces people to get out of their twitter client to rate their experience. It breaks with the twitter flow. It creates distraction and imposes on the user to remember to rate.
We need to build it more as a service to the experience rating use case. In the context of conference rating, it would be worth exploring making the rating part of the schedule itself.
The Tweet Appearance
This is where I think actual twitter clients could use more innovation. The appearance of the tweet matters. 140 characters is not long so some would say there is not a lot of information to read. WRONG! There are just so many damn tweets. It's important to get your tweets to stand out.
We initially rolled out r8it with plain vanilla tweets something like this:
- @r8_it just saw <speaker handle> at 'conference' & I rated them Worth attending - ★★★✩✩
It's amazing the impact this change had on how people started to notice my tweets when using the application. Two examples: One conference organizer tweeted me right away to see what I was using; then someone else got in touch with me for a short, informal interview.
The appearance of your tweets helps people notice; when the flow of information is very intense, it helps you stand out. It will help you stand out until everyone does it and then we'll need to figure something else!
Anonymous vs Your Real Tweeter Handle
When it's time to rate a speaker as godlike, it's easy to put your name next to it. When it's time to let the speaker know the content and the presentation itself are not good, it's much harder. Some people won't mind doing it, but a lot of people will have a problem with it.
A rating service must be anonymous to the person whose performance is being rated. In our next evolution we will think of how to make things anonymous and still allow for users of the application to collect credits for their rating.
It's funny, when we kicked off this experiment I really thought this would be a smashing success with conference goers by helping them to share their experience at a conference in an easy, formatted way. What I realize is that the audience, as much as I want it to be, may not be the target. The conference organizers are the ones with the pain. They need a way to know what works and what doesn't at their conferences.
Is this a pain strong enough for conference organizers to start investing money in leveraging the power of twitter to engage their attendees to share their experience reliably? This would be an interesting short market research activity for me to do!