Businesses face challenges every day. If they don’t, chances are they’re not taking enough risks. Executives and the people that work for them are tasked with researching, planning, recommending and implementing solutions. From where do those solutions come? Our education and experiences inform our decision-making, and our left brain often runs the show. Logical, sequential, rational and analytical thought is used to derive ideas and therefore solutions. The fact that you’ve done your due diligence by deliberately considering all sensible options should yield a solution with which few could argue.
What role does creativity play? Frankly, before I knew of COCAbiz, the business creativity and training division of the Center of Creative Arts here in St. Louis, I had not given that question much thought. Businesses call themselves “innovative” all the time, but it simply does not make it so. COCAbiz has developed a series of classes and workshops, and curated a series of events, designed to get businesspeople thinking with the underused right side of their brain. That is where creativity and innovation are born.
I was invited to be the official “livetweeter” at their second annual business creativity conference called “Spark.” The event spanned two days and included creativity lab breakout sessions and keynote speeches from Seth Godin, Jonah Lehrer and Linda Kaplan Thaler. On day one, I floated between all of the creativity labs and documented as much as I could. The labs ranged from salsa dancing to Rube Goldberg machine building to poetry translation to musical improvisation. On day two, I decided to participate in one of the labs, and I chose the one titled “Productive Performance Critique.” I am obsessed with how body language, tone and word choice affect the absorption of constructive feedback. This lab taught us the “See Think Wonder” method of performance critique, which allows one to interpret a situation and make careful observations without immediately passing judgement. This will usually allow the critique recipient to be more receptive to the feedback. This lab showed us that, while routinely used to explore works of art, this method could be applicable in the business world. It culminated with teams of two and three, each led by a director, choreographing and performing plays that the group at large then critiqued using the See Think Wonder method. It was scary to perform as an actor in front of a crowd, invigorating once it was over, and a great way to practice See Think Wonder.
Along with updates from the labs, I tweeted out as many quotes from the keynotes as I could using the COCAbiz Twitter account. I also used my own RizzoTees account and Falk Harrison‘s a few times as well. In fact, by the end of day one, I had bumped up against Twitter’s daily photo upload limit on the COCAbiz account. I was unaware that such a limit existed. So for a time, any photo I wanted to tweet had to come from my personal account. I was then able to retweet it from the COCAbiz account.
We used the hashtag #Spark2012. Using such a hashtag yielded four benefits:
1. Attendees can follow the events of the day. Of course, if you’re in attendance at an event, you may find yourself capable of following along in person. However, reviewing the tweets of fellow attendees can often lead to face-to-face encounters. Yes, Twitter can help you meet people in the flesh! It’s an oddly powerful feeling to meet a new person after having conversed with them online. The online tweets somehow enhance the offline interaction.
2. People that did not attend can get a feel for the event, and can consider attending it next year. COCAbiz is not just interested in selling out this year’s event. They want to build an ever-growing asset in Spark. Could this event become the next South By Southwest Interactive or Big Omaha? There’s nothing to say it can’t. I tweeted with the intention of giving people that did not attend an idea of what they missed, and what they could expect should they decide to attend next year. Always be building communication vehicles for today and the future.
3. Employing a hashtag and convincing a majority of attendees to use it allows you to buy a Tweetreach report. For $20, COCAbiz was able to purchase a report on the hashtag #Spark2012. Our 27-page PDF report includes a page of metrics (see below), a list of all contributors in reverse volume order (the first page of which is also below), and perhaps most importantly, a full digest of every tweet made using the hashtag. The neatest thing about this digest is that all links are clickable. Under normal circumstances, your tweets from six months ago are so buried. They’re basically gone. You can’t search them anymore, it’s laborious to page back to several thousand tweets ago; you really can’t find old tweets. This report gives COCAbiz a complete digest of the event. All tweets can be opened by clicking the tweet in the report, the accounts of all Twitter users that participated are there, and all photographs tweeted are now archived and accessible in the future.
4. Finally, if you have people (like a boss or a donor) that want a report of what you did with Twitter at an event, frankly this is a nice report to hand them. It shows breadth, reach, frequency and depth of conversation. It does not necessarily show “success” – you must decide what you are trying to accomplish by livetweeting an event. My role at COCAbiz was to raise visibility and awareness of their mission and of the Spark event, and to help attendees find each other and meet, and we succeeded. I hope COCAbiz asks me back next year!