Ralph Mercer: How to get your social media project off the ground

Ralph Mercer works at the Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Center. And he’s a big believer that even the most security-conscious organization can take advantage of social social software to support more effective collaboration among employees. He brought this perspective to the ALI conference on Social Media for Government, speaking on the topic.

I’m capturing the highlights of Ralph’s presentation via the stream of Twitter posts using the #ALI hashtag. You can follow along by playing the CoverItLive presentation published below.

Ralph Mercer at the ALI Social Media for Government Conference

Nick Charney: How to engage your employees with social media before you engage the public

Nick Charney, the author of the cpsrenewal.ca blog, is the second speaker at the ALI Conference on Social Media in Government. He’s tackling the topic: Putting the Social in Social Media – How to engage your employees before you engage the public to drive innovation and increase productivity.

I’m covering the highlights of Nick’s presentation by drawing on the the Tweet stream for the #ALI hashtag during his presentation.

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Social Media for Government Conference in Ottawa

ALISocialMediaforGovernment 090803

Here’s a conference that I’m looking forward to: Social Media for Government, September 29 – October 2 in Ottawa.

I’ve participated in the Advanced Learning Institute’s (ALI) social media conferences for the past two years. And I’ve found that each one is better than the previous one.

The conference producer, Kelly Flynn, listens closely to the conference participants – what they want to learn, which sessions they find most useful, which speakers have the most to offer.  And she uses what she gleans to ensure that each conference session reflects the state of the art and the interests of participants.

This autumn, the conference will be packed with expert speakers presenting best practices and experienced managers talking about the social media programs they have implemented and what they have learned from that experience.

Speakers and topics include:

  • Colin McKay from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner speaking about how organizations must tailor their voices and content to different social media;
  • Nicholas Charney from Indian Affairs and Northern Development talking about the importance of introducing employees to social media behind the firewall before setting them loose in the wild;
  • Ralph Mercer of the Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Centre describing the change process a hierarchical organization organization goes through in order to adopt social media to its needs;
  • Jean-Simon Marquis from the Canada School of Public Service on using social media to leverage communities of practice for knowledge sharing inside and organization;
  • Chantal Wolf and Jennifer Savage explain how the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is using a Wiki and Lotus Connections to build organizational knowledge and how they are measuring ROI;
  • Adrian Cloete and Tracie Noftle describing how Human Resources and Skills Development Canada developed a “corrective blogging” approach;
  • Theresa Woolridge and Amy Jarrette mapping out the social media planning process used by Public Safety Canada;
  • Mike Spear tells how Genome Alberta has build its social media strategy on Facebook and Twitter;
  • Mark Hudson and Marquis Cote share how the Public Health Agency of Canada  used social media to respond to the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak;
  • Chris Wightman and Mark Faul discuss how they are making a business case for social media in the City of Ottawa and measuring the ROI of their social media activities;
  • Michel Savoie and Tim Yull on how RBC, Canada’s largest financial institution, has used social media for drive information sharing and innovation.

It’s a real pleasure to be chairing this edition of the A.L.I. “Social Media for Government Conference” in Ottawa on September 29 – October 2, 2009. I hope you’ll join me at this outstanding opportunity to meet, mix with and learn from some of the leading practitioners of social media for government.

If you’d like more information, download the conference brochure. Or if you’ve already made up your mind to attend, you can register online. (Register this week to get the Early Bird registration rate, discounted $400 off the regular registration fee.)

UPDATE: GET 50% OFF THE REGISTRATION FEE. @kellyflynn just DMed me to let me know that you can get a 50% discount off the conference registration fee if you mention my name when you register. I guess being the Chair of the conference does have some benefits. 🙂 And no, I don’t get any money from this. Just the pleasure of participating in a successful conference full of passionate people who want to learn about social media.

Twitter on screen at conferences: Good or Bad?

Do you think that having the Twitter stream on a screen at conferences adds to the experience or participants and speakers or detracts from it?

The Advanced Learning Institute have asked my advice about whether they should have a second screen at all sessions of their upcoming Social Media for Government Conference to display the twitter stream throughout the conference. (Disclosure: I’ll be chairing the conference and presenting a workshop.)

I’ve seen this work well at tech conferences. At some conferences, a large number of participants are heavily engaged in twittering their conference experience – sharing points they think are important and then engaging in active discussion with other conference attendees as well as people joining in from outside the conference. For these people, the conference experience is greatly enriched. They can ask questions, consider alternatives and dig deeper through discussion with others. All in real time while the ideas are being discussed by the speaker.

Twitter stream from Third Tuesday

How about the speaker, you ask? In my experience, a growing number of speakers embrace conference Twittering. Some follow the Twitter stream for questions. Others actually participate in it (This works especially well for panels.) After the conference, the speaker can gain valuable feedback on their presentation by reviewing the conference hashtag in the Twitter stream. And they don’t need to stop there. Savvy speakers can continue the conversation with conference tweeters after the conference.

However, I don’t think that Twitter is right for most conferences – yet. I think that may be overkill if your mix of attendees is not technically savvy. And that seems to be most attendees at standard business conferences. Just as important, some speakers are likely to object to it.

But that doesn’t mean that I’d leave Twitter out of a conference. In fact, having the Twitter stream on screen for select sessions demonstrates its potential to everyone. Having it up all the time may irritate those who are not on Twitter.

So, for the time being, I think that conference organizers should introduce Twitter at key points in the conference, but not have it present all the time.

What do you think?

Do you think that having the Twitter stream on a screen at conferences adds to the experience or participants and speakers or detracts from it? Am I underestimating the average conference attendee?

Other views on Conferences and Twitter

Ira Basen doesn’t like it

I do it

Dr. Shock suggests ways to use Twitter to get more out of lectures

David Berkowitz thinks conference blogging policies need updating

Follow the ALI Conference on Social Media for Government on Twitter


I’m chairing the Social Media for Government Conference in Ottawa today and tomorrow. (Hashtag: #ALI)

The conference is organized by the Advanced Learning Institute (ALI). They’ve lined up a strong lineup of presenters. Today’s speakers include: the Government of Canada’s Deputy Chief  Technology Officer, Jeff Braybrook and Thomas Kearney, Treasury Board’s Director of Enterprise Architecture, Mark Faul and Chris Wightman from the City of Ottawa, Jennifer Bell from VisibleGovernment.ca, Colin McKay from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and Jack Holt from the U.S. Department of Defence.

I’ll be urging the conference participants to post their impressions and thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #ALI. If you’re interested in what’s being said about social media and government in Ottawa, please feel free to follow along. And if you have thoughts about what is being said, we’d welcome you to contribute your ideas to the Twitter stream.

And if you want more info on the conference, Mark Faul from the City of Ottawa set up an event blog for the Social Media for Government Conference. Hopefully, there’ll be more good content posted there during and after the conference.

So, you don’t have to be in the room to participate in the conference. I hope that you’ll join us through social media.