Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Connect Deck

"Do you really have something to do the whole time you are at the Tweetdeck?" - a staff friend.

As others may have similar questions, here is what is happening at the staff conference Connect Deck during a typical meeting:

- All six people on the deck have a shared Google Doc open. This is where we paste tweets or texts that come in during the meeting we find noteworthy. Joe, the velvet-voiced mouthpiece for the Connect Deck, draws from these to share with the emcee's during the meeting, highlighting those he might read for the audience.

- For one meeting, we had a group Skype chat going so we could message each other easily. When we didn't (the second session I worked) it made communication more difficult. We could have used the sidebar feature in Docs, but Skype gets your attention a little better. At least it does for me.

- One or two of the people at the desk are logged in to a Google Voice account. This account receives texts during the conference, usually from people that have questions/thoughts and aren't on Twitter. This number sees a lot of texts coming in, especially when the number is posted on the big screen with a response question.

- Just about everyone at the deck has a power user Twitter client open. Tweetdeck seemed to be the favorite (it's what I use), but there are others like Seesmic and Hootsuite that do similar things. My columns during the last session I worked: All Friends (darrenaholland), Mentions (darrenaholland), Search: "Campus Crusade", Search "#csu2011", Search "#cru", Mentions (csu2011), and Direct Messages (csu2011).

- Which reminds me: When I arrived at the Connect Deck the first day, I was given the csu2011 twitter account login (wouldn't you like to know!). This allows us to not just post from this account, but easily monitor mentions/replies/direct messages. (Note: There weren't many DM's.) We try to let the #csu2011 community do most of the posting (they usually beat us to things anyway), but we'll jump in and send out a (re)tweet from the csu2011 account if we want to draw special attention to information or thoughts from other users.

- The person sitting immediately to the left (audience right) of Joe, wears a headset and communicates with the program director. Most of the time this was Brian Barela; I did it on Saturday. When a Connect Desk segment in the program is coming up, or as was the case when I was working, we're trying to figure out what we want people to text in, this channel can be very busy.

- If, given all the above, there was lag time, I found myself doing any number of things: replying to people on twitter that had used "Campus Crusade" in their tweet and had clear misinformation about the name change (directing them to our FAQ's), sitting and listening to the speaker, posting thoughts of my own related to the session on twitter, reading the incoming tweets (they are nearly constant during an especially compelling speaker) and commenting/retweeting.

So there is the science of the Connect Desk. I'll do a follow-up post about my impression of the overall impact social media made at our conference, both for good and for ill.

Any questions? Anything I missed, fellow tweeters? Are you going to have a "Connect Deck" at your next conference? Should we have been paying attention to other communication channels (like Facebook), too?


  1. Oh. I thought you guys just wanted to sit behind of your shiny macs and look techno-savvy while you were really watching youtube videos.

    No, I didn't think that, but I can understand how someone in the audience might have thought that. So maybe that's why you wrote this post.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Erin. We do like to look tech-savvy (and some of us techno-savvy, too). Hopefully our look matches reality. ;)

    I did think some people were wondering what happened at the Tweetdeck just out of curiosity, but also thought there might be some staff that would be interested in having a similar social media element at another conference they are part of (like a Christmas Conference). Having a step-by-step could be helpful.