How to create a Twitter conference feed

I’m not sure I want to make a habit of this but I’ve received another request to blog on a particular topic. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while so I’ll just look at this as the push that I needed to actually do it. 😉

So, for three conferences now I’ve created a Twitter RSS feed for those who are not at the conference to read the posts of those that are. The method or system isn’t perfect but I think I’ve got the major bugs worked out. So here’s how you do it.

  1. Create an account using the name of the conference and/or some abbreviation thereof. For example, the last one was "CIL2008". Be sure to use an e-mail address that you’ve not previously used to create a Twitter account. (Twitter only allows one account per e-mail address.) If you plan on doing this for another event in the future, I suggest using a throwaway e-mail service so you don’t run out of e-mail accounts you actually use.
  2. Write a tweet or two while logged in as that account telling people that there won’t actually be any content here as no one will actually be tweeting under that username.
  3. Write a tweet telling people that if they’re attending the conference who to contact to be added as a friend. Early attempts had me telling people to direct message me or the conference account with the request but this proved unreliable for people with protected Twitter accounts. I suggest telling people to e-mail you directly with their request.
  4. As people contact you, log into the conference account and follow that person. Follow anyone who says they’ll be at the conference and will be Tweeting from the conference. (Following people who are not attending will just clutter the resulting feed with non-relevant information.)
  5. People only need to follow the conference account if their tweets are protected. Otherwise, following the conference account is technically pointless since there won’t be any actual tweets from that account. (You’ll be busy tweeting from your personal account.)
  6. Instruct those not attending to follow the RSS feed found at the bottom of the conference account’s "With Others" page.

That’s it. I hope I’ve explained it well enough for others to recreate what I’ve done for other events. Feel free to post requests for clarification in the comments below.

11 Replies to “How to create a Twitter conference feed”

  1. Here are my steps:
    1. Go to Real-time Twitter Search
    2. Type tag/hash into search (i.e., ala08 or CIL2008)
    3. Click on RSS link at top
    4. Follow in your favorite RSS reader.

    P.S.- the RSS link in #3 is for ALA annual.

  2. Hastags would be easier in theory but in order for them to work you need to convince everyone to use them. I’ve found in practice that this is difficult at best. Besides, the use of hashtags shortens the amount of characters you have available for your actual content.

    Try looking at the #cil2008 hastag results, hardly anyone used them. You’l be missing 90% of what was actually posted during the conference.

  3. Michael says using hashtags reduces the number of characters available to use in your post. Well, using a group account also does, since GroupTweet embeds your account name at the head of your post, and the post is them often chopped off in the middle.

    Personally, I agree with the recommendation to use hashtags.

  4. But I’m not suggesting using GroupTweet either. My method does not use up any of the characters available to the participants.

  5. 1. GroupTweet does not have security issues, it has users who don’t read the documentation.

    2. MLA isn’t doing _anything_ with Twitter. The MLA2008 account was created by attendees, not by MLA.

  6. Anonymous:
    I’ve got a few questions for you.

    1. I stand corrected on the security issues with GroupTweet. Are you with GroupTweet?

    2. Are you with MLA?

    3. Why so defensive about the users, not MLA officially, creating the Twitter account? I create the Twitter feeds for ITI conferences and they don’t seem to have a problem with it. To me you give the impression that MLA’s annoyed by this idea.

  7. I don’t know about if MLA anonymous was defensive exactly but the question before said, “Why is MLA using group tweet?” The answer is MLA wasn’t, some Twitter members decided to do it on their own.
    I am on the Program Committee for the 2009 annual meeting. The member driven Twitter from last year was positive. So we have created an MLA 2009 account this year. I am in the process of trying to make it as easy as possible for tweeters and for followers not attending the conference to follow the MLA 2009 Twitter feed.
    It is kind of a fly by your pants situation. Some people really like hashtags, others don’t, some advocate what TL has mentioned here. There doesn’t seem to be any set standard. That makes it a little difficult if you want to inform your members about the easiest and best way to follow or participate.

  8. We just build this free little Twitter web app which is very handy during any conference! It enables you to save/print tweets with specific #keywords or any other keyword for that matter. It builds a bridge between the old and new media :o) Ideal also for journalists who want to trace a news story, you can search any keyword(s) and get a print friendly version of all the specific tweets!

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