Pubcon’s Twitter Fail

November 12, 2009 – 10:21 am

Didn’t get a chance to write any updates about the Pubcon, so it is a pity that my first update is going to be a complaint, but I guess since everyone is talking about the good stuff (of which there is plenty) and it is the complaints that get you to improve stuff so here it goes:

First day of Pubcon, there was almost the whole session track devoted to Twitter. The sessions rocked, the presentations rocked, it was realy great. You would think that the leading search marketing conference would plug in to Twitter and utilize it in ways that are a bit more creative than scrolling the tweets with the #pubcon hash on plasma screens in the expo area. The most significant failure in understanding twitter, IMHO, is failing to understand that my Twitter profile is my point of contact, part of my online identity, my way of plugging into what my friends and people that I follow are doing in real life. Instead of allowing me to integrate Pubcon into the fabric of my online presence, I am given only one option of participating, through the hashtag.

So what could have been done better? Here are three things from the top of my head that seemed obvious from the first day of the conference:

  1. My Twitter profile is a part of online identity – was it hard to ask people for a twitter username at the registration stage and print it out on the name tags? I do not talk to Ben Cook on Twitter, I talk to @skitzzo and the connection between the two should be made immediate through the name tag. Giving the ability to upload the avatar image and print that too would be ubercool.
  2. More session specific hashtags . The moderators were doing this out of their own initiative, but it would have been really helpful to have a specific hash tag for each session and to be able to follow the sessions like that. Tomorrow if I find a tweet saying that @sugarrae gave an awesome tip about redirecting affiliate links, it would be really helpful to know what session it was on, what the context was and maybe to find the presentation as well. This way I have to sift and search since there is no way of me knowing when it happened, was it an answer to a question from the crowd or part of the presentation, etc.
  3. Make sure all the panelists have their twitter username on each and every slide of their presentations. When I sit on the panel where Lyndsay Walker is rocking an awesome presentation on website architecture and SEO, how can I share that with my tweeps from England that are eagerly following every piece of info on Pubcon? What I needed to do is start searching on Google for the twitter username to be able to give proper credit. With the WiFi speed surging to as fast as 1Kb/s at certain points during the conference, I had to miss a whole lot of slides to be able to tweet about one. One exception that I’ve seen was Jill Sampey (who is awesome, regardless of the presentation) who had her username on each and every one of the slides. The majority of the presentations are using the default Pubcon background, it shouldn’t have been too hard to insert a space for a twitter handle of the speaker.

So as I said, the intention of this post was to help improve things for the next conference. I am having a great time so far and while some of the panels speakers do leave a lot to desire in terms of the novelty of the info they deliver, there are some really awesome panels and the networking is as good as it gets. So Pubcon, keep rocking and help us be active Pubcon participants on Twitter too.

  1. 6 Responses to “Pubcon’s Twitter Fail”

  2. You’re totally right – pubcon is lagging somewhat on the uptake of technology, yet we online marketers places the conference on the pedestal above everything else. Trying to follow this online is a bit of a pig – the live blogging is excellent but I only have time for that in the evenings. Tweets are 140 chars and can pretty much blow my mind with enough inspiration – yet I’m hardly seeing those kinda tweets.

    Another thing I’ve also noticed is the content – come on guys – a lot has changed over the past few months, but I’ve hardly seen anything new – are people holding back? I hope its not simply turning into one big sales pitch 

    Keep up the good work commenting – its almost like I was amongst you all!

    By Amrit Gill on Nov 12, 2009

  3. We have had numerous numerous discussions of how to integrate twitter more into the conference. We completely understand where you are coming from.

    The reason we didn’t get id’s on the nametags is two fold:
    1- logistical. There is only so much room for stuff on the tag.
    2- only about 20% of the people filled in the ‘twitter id’ field when they signed up.
    3- we have had alot of experience with nicknames on nametags. Our first 5 conferences were done noly with nicknames from webmasterworld on tags. It was major controversy when we went to real names. There is alot of history there.

    Most of that is addressable and I will talk with the team about your comments for sure – most appreciated.


    By Brett Tabke on Nov 12, 2009

  4. Hi Brett,

    Thanks for commenting. My response:

    1. There is plenty of room on the tag. I have added my twitter handle by hand under the name of the company

    2. You could have made it a required field + a check box for “don’t have twitter”, checking of which would void the twitter name requirement

    3. Of course that having only nicknames makes no sense. Together with real names it does make sense.

    I appreciate your taking seriously the comments. They have been done with the intention of improvement and I am glad you get that.

    By Neyne on Nov 12, 2009

  5. This is not really about the twitter, but something to improve. And I think it comes before being more twitter friendly.

    Brett, was it really so expensive to provide wireless access to PubCon? There was one, I was able to access through the spreading of the speaker access details. In this day and age,and especially for an event like PubCon don’t we need an excellent free wireless access?

    By Serhat Pala on Nov 28, 2009

  6. I just saw this post referenced in your twitter feed, and although I (sadly) could not attend PubCon there is a lesson here that expands outside of just this one event. I agree that Twitter handles, Linkedin profiles, etc. are staples for any reference to online identity. Twitter names can be on a name tag at a conference, on a resume, in a slide show presentation, at a sales pitch, on a business card … it’s an integral part of what we do as online marketers. I have also wondered why the Twitter names aren’t provided in the conference brochures that are handed out – which could also serve as an index of hashtags for specific tracks. I use that thing as a a reference at all events, and keep them as reference for names and businesses. Just another service in the queue, I suppose.

    By Monica Wright on Jan 26, 2010

  7. Re webmasterworld handles on the Pubcon name tags – in the early years, many of the attendees used to guard their privacy fiercely. I went out with some others to Kinko’s and had business cards printed with just my handle anallawalla (not terribly anonymous) and some minimal contact information. As you noted, people add various things to their name tag manually, be it Twitter, their WW handle, country etc

    Good tip about the session hashtags. I’ll suggest it to the panels where I’m presenting.

    By Ash Nallawalla on Jun 22, 2011

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