UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Revisiting Event Amplification

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 Oct 2018

“Amplifying Your Event: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How”

At next week’s ILI conference Alison McNab, Academic Librarian at the University of Huddersfield, will be giving a talk in a “Quick Win” session on “Amplifying your event: who, what, where, when, why and how“. In this lightning talk she will provide “practical tips on using social media to promote and amplify events”. The session “will be of particular interest to LIS professionals who are new to supporting events whether at a local level or as part of a professional network”.

As this is an area of particular interest to me I felt this would provide an opportunity to provide some reflections on the topic of event amplification.


The term ‘amplified event’ probably arose from a blog post published in July 2007 by Lorcan Dempsey in which he described how “It is interesting to watch how more conferences are amplifying their effect through a variety of network tools and collateral communications.” The post referred to initial observations of use at academic conferences of “pictures on Flickr, the presentations, podcasts, and, hey, there is even a Facebook group devoted to conference interests.

Early Examples

An early example of event amplification was described in a post on On-The-Fly Professional Development And Learning published in October 2008. Around the same time Owen Stevenson live-blogged at the ILI 2008 conference which included a post on Using Twitter to Live Blog ILI08 – some thoughts.

Back then discussions focussed on the various communications technologies which could be used to enrich the experiences at events, including pre-web communications technologies such as IRC (reviewing in a post on Micro-blogging At Events), microblogging tools such as Jaiku (no longer available) and Coveritlive (with archives of use of this tool from 2009 at the CILIP MmIT Conference 2009 – Mobile learning: what exactly is it? and the Future of Technology in Education (FOTE) 09 still available on the eFoundations Livewire web site).

In addition to the communications infrastructure at event there was also much experimentation with tools for resource sharing (with slides often shared on Slideshare and photos taken at events on Flickr, links typically shared using Delicious) and video recordings of talks on Vimeo) and dedicated social networking environments for events such as Crowdvine (no longer available).

There has been a lot of volatility in the marketplace for event amplification tools over the past ten years. However for communications Twitter continues to be widely used and some example of its use at ILI  conferences are given below.

Event Amplification at ILI Conference

Twitter Archives

I have made use of Twitter at many of the ILI conference I have attended over the past 10 years. In many cases it has been used in an informal way. However at ILI 2011 I created a couple of archives of event tweets in order to illustrate potential benefits. Then at the ILI 2013 conference I created archives of tweets for a workshop session which I facilitated with Tony Hirst. On both occasions Storify was used to creation the Twitter archives. The Storify service was subsequently withdrawn from service but as notice of the withdrawal of the service was given, I was able to migrate the data to the Wakelet service. A summary is given below.

Title of Archive About Purpose
ILI 2011: Reflections on the ILI 2011 conference Small number of tweets posted at the end of the event in which delegates summarise their thoughts on the conference. Illustrate how capturing a small number of tweets can help gauge an audience’s reflections. 12 tweets captured.
ILI 2011: Session A101 – What’s on the Technology Horizon? Session A101 (What’s on the Technology Horizon) at ILI 2011 conference (tagged with #ili2011 #a101). Delegates asked to tweet using session hashtag (#a101) to enable speaker (myself) to reflect on comments made after the event. 37 tweets captured.
ILI 2013: The Data Librarian An annotated summary of tweets about session B202: The Data Librarian. As chair of session I created this archive shortly after the session had finished. For this example annotated were provided to give a context for the 47 tweets.
ILI 2013: Future Technologies Workshop Tweets about the Future Technologies pre-ILI 2013 conference workshop facilitated by Brian Kelly and Tony Hirst As a workshop facilitator I encouraged delegates to use the #ili2013fut hashtag to share their thoughts. 38 tweets captured.
ILI 2013: The Conference Tweets A list of tweets containing the #ili2013 hashtag used for the ILI 2013 conference held in London on 15-16 October 2013. Example of an automated collection of tweets. 412 tweets captured.

Revisiting #ILI2009 and #ILI2010

Earlier this morning (Sunday 14 October 2018) the Timehop app on my Android phone alerted me to memories I had posted to various social network services on this day in the past. I was interested to see several tweets which I had posted at the ILI 2010 (23 tweets in total) and ILI 2009 (21 tweets in total) events. These reflect some of the early memories of ILI events captured on social media services but cannot easily be shared with others. With the 20th anniversary event started in a few days I tho89ght I would see what recollections of ILI events are readily accessible using Google.

No. Resource Notes
1 #ILI2009: The challenge of searching in Institutional Repositories Peter Murray-Rust’s thoughts, prior to his plenary talk at ILI 2009
2 Twitter | Karen Blakeman’s Blog Series of posts including one on “Tweets from the past
3 OxfordStaffDev | Staff Development at Oxford University Libraries Series of posts including one on Internet Librarian International, London, 15-16 October 2009
1 #ili2010 | Karen Blakeman’s Blog Two posts on use of social media in a corporate context and on social search
2 ili2010 | OUseful.Info, the blog. Two posts including one which analyses use of Twitter at the event
3 Transitioning Library and Information Service customers from consumers to collaborators – we still have a way to go.. | Elisabeth Goodman’s Blog Elisabeth Goodman’s report inspired by Dr Hazel Hall’s1 keynote presentation
4 Jinfo Blog: ILI 2010: the future lies in the cloud Penny Crossland’s report
5 Do libraries have a future? ILI2010 | Bethan’s information professional blog The script for Bethan Ruddock’s talk at ILI 2010 on “Do Libraries have a Future?”
6 Some musings post ILI2010 | FromMelbin “ILI2010 is now a week and hemisphere away, so here are a few thoughts it provoked from me”

Note the resources given in the table are based on reflections on the ILI events provided by delegates and found on the first page of results using Google searches for #ILI2009 and #ILI2010.

Summary of Benefits of Event Amplification

It’s probably fair to say that initially the interest in event amplification was focussed on technical aspects (which tools to use) and related issues (is the data interoperable; is the service sustainable) although other issues were considered (e.g. privacy and etiquette). As an example in 2010 there was a discussion about “‘Quiet Zone[s]’ At Conferences“. But nowadays use of mobile devices at conferences is ubiquitous and use of tools such as Twitter seems to be accepted.

I was recently invited by Librarians with Lives to contribute to a podcast about the #ILI 2018 conference. As described in the abstract for the podcastEpisode 1 features Kat Allen, Brian Kelly, Alison McNab and Helen Lippell. Kat, Brian and Alison have been involved with ILI for many years and they are ideally placed to introduce the conference, reflect on the changes and innovations that they’ve seen over the years, highlight their must-sees, and offer advice to delegates“.

I mentioned how use of Twitter at the event could be helpful in developing one’s professional networks. To expand on this I suggest that engagement with event amplification at the #ILI2018 event can provide the following benefits:

For Delegates
Use of Twitter can help make what can be a solitary experience at an event (especially for first-time attendees who don’t know many other delegates) into a shared experience. And tweeting during sessions can be an valuable way of collaborating on a shared resource which can be used when people subsequently write trip reports. The open nature of event tweeting can be useful for those who don’t understand a talk, as a tweet saying “I don’t understand this point” can be reinforced if others are having similar difficulties and then resolved by those who can provide explanations.
For Speakers
If there are many talks at a conference (as is the case at ILI) it can take a long time before any official feedback for your talk is available. But if you encourage delegates to tweet (and especially if you suggest a session-specific hashtag) you should be able to see what they said about your talk immediately afterwards (or even during your talk, if you are happy with such multitasking!)
For Event Organisers
As illustrated in the screen capture of tweets posted at the conclusion of the ILI 2011 event Twitter can be used to provide immediate feedback for an event.

Revisiting the post on “Emerging Best Practices for Using Storify For Archiving Event Tweets” and updating them in light of loss of some of the services mentioned (including Storify and Lanyrd) my suggestions for speakers and organisers of the ILI 2018 event are:

  • Assign an event hashtag and publicise it widely: Note the #ILI2018 tag has already been promoted
  • Create archive(s) of event tweets: In this case a Twubs archive of #ILI2018 was created on 14 October 2018. Note that since Twitter archiving services have proved to be volatile, it is recommended that an additional service is used. The Wakelet service is recommended.
  • Create a archive soon after the event finished: Twubs will collected tweets automatically, but other services may need manual curation of tweets (and this can provide benefits.
  • Encourage live tweeters who will tweet consistently through an event
  • Identify emerging best practices for live tweeting at events: Useful practices include:
    • Provide a meaningful summary of the event with appropriate links in advance
    • Announce participation at the event on the morning of the event in order that interested parties are made aware of the event and the event’s hashtag
    • Provide a timestamp and, ideally, a photograph at the start of each talk
    • It can be helpful to clearly signal the end of a talk and the event with an appropriate tweet (e.g. thanks speakers at the end of the event).

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