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Notes from the CRIF: Five elements to social reporting on events

By July 29, 2011No Comments

As part of the work we’re doing for the CRIF engagement, we’ve been holding a series of events – with the latest taking place last week. I thought it might be handy if I described how we’ve gone about the social reporting of the events…

What is social reporting?

This term is getting more and more popular – and might be best defined as how an event of some sort (in this case a meeting) gets reported on by the people who are attending it, largely through the use of social-web tools. There’s some play, however, in how much that’s a managed process and how it can just happen naturally. (I looked for a really good definition on the web, but I’m not seeing one that I like yet – so please tell me if you have one).

Every meeting is, if you like, in the eye of the beholder. Everyone goes away with a different impression of what happened. Of course, that might be seen as a bad thing – because it leads to people carrying on as if they attended an entirely different event. But if there’s a way to represent what everyone thinks and takes away, to tie all the different perspectives together, then you might be able to get a richer picture of what happened. Viewed with a sense of proportion – and checked by bonafide digital recording of what was actually said – it might be more valuable and more useful. That’s particularly true if what you’re trying to do is co-production. In a sense, you’re co-producing the reporting of the meeting. (Eeek.)

What we’ve done at the CRIF events

In a previous post, I talked about how we are looking to try to make meetings more interactive by bringing together the conversation that goes on through Twitter closer to the webcast video – and to find ways of mediating between the live conversation and that going on ‘virtually’. At the CRIF events, we’ve used a mixture of that tech-led approach (via the webcast) and some of the stuff that’s social reporting…

1). The hash tag

For CRIF, the hashtag we’ve used for both events (given that there was some time between them) stayed the same: CrifCambs. We’ve used this tag for blogging, for Delicious and it’s the name of the Twitter account, too. In fact it’s a universal CRIF tag and moniker. Anyone tweeting about a CRIF event can use the tag and we’ll pick it up (but we need them to tell us somewhere); stick ‘crifcambs’ after the domain url for a lot of social media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and you’ll get material from CRIF).

Example of Storify

Example of a CRIF Storify, collecting tweets from the event. You can see what it really looks like by clicking on the pic.

On the day, we were able to display all the tweeting on the hashtag via the interactive player. That doesn’t, however, collect the tweets. You can do this by a variety of means, including Storify – which allows you to search for tweets on a hashtag and then add them to a stream. You can add this to a blog or another website relatively easily – although you need to do it relatively soon after the event – otherwise it gets harder because of the way the Twitter API works. You can see a storify, above,and  on a Citizenscape page for the CRIF. This means you can select tweets that you think best represent the meeting – I’ll leave it in your judgment whether that’s a good thing or not! (Tip: Overzealous ‘editing’ might be self defeating.)

2). Live blog

I’ve already talked a bit about blogging live when you’ve got a webcast going. It may be best to see this as a process by which you are tying together the twitter conversation and the conversation that’s happening at the meeting. We’ve been using CoverItLive to do this. It’s a free liveblogging platform that you can embed into a blog or website relatively easily. There are other examples out there (as they like to say on the BBC), of course, but it does the job pretty well.

I think we’re still working out how best to use CoverItLive. Or, at least, I’m still wondering how we can improve its use in meetings. You can see more about this here.

3). Video and audio interviews

A Citizenscape page showing the YouTube videos from a CRIF event

Break-out sessions and presentations are often best represented by a quick video or audio interview, rather than by solely blogging notes on what has been said – and we’ve done a fair bit of this at the CRIF events. I was taught how to do this by Nick Booth, who is a master of this sort of stuff as you can see through a browse on his website.

I don’t edit the videos, save for a bit of top and tailing, as you want them to be available quickly. That means being careful with sound and picture and the way that you question people.

Inteviews, for example, can be used to precis what’s been said, focus on something specific that you think is important or interesting, or to find out more about the person/organisation behind the presentation. The great thing about these videos is that you can embed them easily into a blog post or elsewhere and – with a bit of skill – they can (sometimes) say a lot more than a bunch of dull-looking text.

4). Pictures

We’ve tried to take pictures of events as much as possible, because – even if you don’t always use them – they help to pep up the posts that you’ll later write. But they can also make a good illustration of the fact that people actually turned up! Populating your Flickr stream also gives people a sense of activity, which is helpful too. Concentrating on faces is a really, really good idea – as we seem to find them a lot more interesting to look at.

5). Blogging

I think you can use actual blogging, rather than live blogging, in two ways at an event. In the first CRIF event, we were able to blog during the event as well as live blog, because I’d cheated and prepared posts based on the session notes and presentations that I’d already made. These can be tweeted out and can provide a really rich source of news to people who aren’t at the event.

But the second type of blogging is that which you do after the event. This is largely, of course, a reflective process. Getting other people to do this is a good idea – because if you’ve done all of this stuff already, you’ll probably be ready to drop!

Hope this helps – be interested to hear from others who might have tips and thoughts about how to do this stuff well…

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