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How Twitter Hashtags Enhance the Conference Experience For Those Who DON’T Go

by Kimberly on March 30, 2011 · 3 comments

Twice a year, you’ll notice that I–and other music therapists–start talking about one thing over and over and over again…

Conference!

In the fall, we chat about the annual national conference for the American Music Therapy Association. In the spring, it’s our 7 regional music therapy conferences.

I’ve noticed a change in the past couple of years related to our conferences…and especially our regional conferences. It used to be (you know, *waaaaay* back in 2009) that you only kept up with your own regional conference. But now?

With the growing presence of music therapists using Twitter and Facebook, it’s possible to keep updated on ALL the regional conferences.

Personally, I’ve already configured my desktop Tweetdeck application with columns that follow the hashtags for each regional conference. Last week, it was #swamta11 (for the Southwestern regional conference) and #glramta11 (Great Lakes region). This week there are four: #maramta11 (Mid-Atlantic Region), #neramta11 (New England region), #seramta11 (South-eastern region), and #wramta11 (Western region). The final regional conference is next week’s Midwestern one (#mwamta11).

I mentioned to my husband that I was following the updates for all these regional conferences and his first question was…why? What is the point?

I had to think about this. What IS the reason for following all these regional conference updates? I’m not there in person. It’s not like I’m learning anything or leaving with that invigorating post-conference glow. So what’s the point?

After some thought, I came up with an initial list of 5 reasons why it’s beneficial to follow conference-related Twitter updates:

1) It gives you ideas for your OWN conference planning.

2) It’s an opportunity to notice trends (like how ukeleles are still popular)

3) You connect with your online friends through jokes and shared experiences.

4) You can share useful information with conference attendees…BEFORE the conference.

5) You can be introduced to new people you want to hear and new sessions you want to attend.

Now this is MY list of benefits…but what do you think? Why follow conferences through Twitter (which include non-music therapy conferences…like the popular #sxsw conference earlier this month)? How do YOU benefit? If you have more ideas, please leave a comment in the boxes below.

P.S. If you are on Twitter, I invite you to follow me, @KimberlySMoore 🙂

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle Erfurt March 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I agree with everything you’ve said. But, I mostly follow the tweets ‘cuz I want the gossip!

Julie Parker Neal March 30, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Great list, Kimberly. Networking has become so much broader than it used to be. When I started out in this field, many people didn’t even have home computers, much less smart phones and social networking sites. As energizing as conferences always are, we generally only got to network extensively those one or two times a year, if we were lucky.

This year, I got to “meet” people this way before even going to the airport! It is an exciting time, but most of all, it’s FUN!

Roia April 3, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I have to admit that my lack of a small smart phone made it difficult for me to actually follow what was going on while I was at the conference, but when I was able to check my iPad in the evenings it was a lot of fun. And our impromptu tweet-up was also quite lovely!

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