How to Participate in the Colloquium Backchannel

[Adapted from David Kelley and SCRA.org]

Attendees should now be setting plans in order to get the maximum amount of value out of the 2014 Puget South Colloquium. One thing that should definitely be part of your plan is participating in the conference's backchannel. 

For many people, the backchannel is a new concept. A great many others may have heard of the backchannel but never actually participated in one. If you're interested in participating in the PSC backchannel, either at the event or remotely, it's something you should prepare yourself for in advance. This post will briefly walk you through some things you can do to prepare yourself to participate and enhance your 2014 Colloquium experience via the backchannel.

For starters, do you know what a Backchannel is? If not, check out this post: What exactly IS a Backchannel? Once you are comfortable with what a backchannel is, let's look at the two critical things you must do to participate.

Step One: Join the TwitterVerse

In order to participate in a backchannel you must have access to the technology through which the sharing takes place. In most cases today, the backchannel exists predominantly on Twitter. If you want to join in the fun, it starts with joining Twitter. (NOTE: If you don't want to use Twitter, you can still use the #psc14 hashtag on Facebook, Instagram, Vine, or Google+ and get in on the backchannel.)

Joining Twitter is actually very easy, and can be done in less than five minutes. Visit the Twitter signup page and follow the on screen instructions. During the signup process Twitter will ask you to look at your online profiles for friends and recommend celebrities you may want to follow. These are steps that you can (and arguably should) skip. Where you do what to take an extra few moments is in setting up your profile.

Step Two: Participate

If you want to participate in the PSCbackchannel, it's important that you do everything you can to remove the barriers to participation.

The first, and most obvious barrier to participating is becoming comfortable with the Twitter (or other) tool you are going to use - of which there are many. We recommend newcomers start with a simple tool without 'bells and whistles' and get comfortable using that. More importantly, I recommend that you first consider what sort of technology you will use at the event. Most people that connect to Twitter during a conference are not doing so using a laptop. More often, people are connecting using a smart phone or tablet. Consider what device will be with you most often. If it is a smart phone or tablet, choose a Twitter app (We recommend the official Twitter app) and start participating.  The goal here is to get comfortable with the tool, so that when you arrive at the conference you can concentrate less on 'How to Tweet' and more on 'What to Tweet'. A related barrier is understanding the language of twitter, and how that language translates into connecting with the community. Twitter's support page has a great glossary of terms that you can reference to help with this.

Hashtags

#psc14One term that you MUST become comfortable with to participate in the backchannel is hashtag. A hashtag is the foundation upon which a backchannel is built. By placing a number sign in front of a word or acronym, we are informally categorizing our message with a topic or group. If you remember one thing from this post, make it this: #psc14

That is the official hashtag for the 2014 Puget Sound Colloquium. People contributing to the conference backchannel will be adding the #psc14 hashtag to each message they post. Similarly, anyone that wants to review or monitor the conference backchannel can do so by searching for the #psc14 hashtag. 


So start using and monitoring the #psc14 hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Google+ as many people begin using it long before the conference to connect with one another through the event hashtag.