Social Media at the #NAI2011 Workshop

I compare the annual NAI National Workshop to final exams. I spend most of my year building to this one week, during which I go sleepless, subsist almost entirely on buffalo wings and nervous energy, and then crash afterwards until someone wakes me for the holidays.

I have been to 10 NAI National Workshops, and I remember each one distinctly for different reasons. There was the 40 Days of Rain Workshop (Virginia Beach, 2002), the “Wheel of Fortune” Slot Machine Workshop (Reno, 2003), the Shiny Horse Incident Workshop (Wichita, 2007), and, of course, the Shorn Head Workshop (Las Vegas, 2010).

Last week’s Workshop in Saint Paul, Minnesota, will always be the Social Media Workshop to me. Smart phones and tablets were everywhere throughout the event, and there was a steady stream of Tweets and Facebook posts from participants. NAI promoted a Twitter hash tag, #NAI2011, which participants used when Tweeting about the event.

For those not familiar with Twitter, a hash tag is a short phrase or set of characters set off with a pound sign (like #NAI2011) that Twitterers use to link their Tweets to other Tweets. In Twitter, you can click on a hash tag and see all of the Tweets that have included it. Being relatively new to Twitter, I was struck by the following effects of the #NAI2011 hash tag:

It generated buzz:

It connected peopleā€”in person and online:

It made people feel bad:

It spread the message:

It expanded the conversation beyond the session rooms:

It gave participating organizations a line of communication to their people:

It provided instant feedback:

It highlighted some of the tangential benefits of the event:

And, of course, it encouraged shenanigans:

I co-presented two sessions during NAI 2011, one on blogging with my esteemed IBD co-author Shea, and one on using social media in interpretation with Friend of IBD Phil Sexton. Both were well attended, but in particular the social media session was packed so full we called it Occupy NAI, and our room monitor was turning people away. That session was popular for three reasons: 1. New media is incredibly important to the field of interpretation. 2. People believed me when I told them that Phil is actually Kenny Rogers. 3. I can’t remember the third reason.

I consider the #NAI2011 hash tag experiment a success. It was widely used by participants, encouraged conversation, facilitated connections, and generated buzz about the event.

Now, on to #NAI2012!

3 thoughts on “Social Media at the #NAI2011 Workshop

  1. I am not a twitter tweeter but I still enjoyed your post. Some day I will move into the world of having an iPhone (holiday gift idea for my fans) and start being a twitter tweeter typing tremendous texts, but until then, I am just Uber IBD Reader Jeff Miller, and the Facebook Dude. I also enjoyed your “Why Blog” session with Shea. It was an incredible week and event and I am already looking forward to the next time with graphic geeks, the font police, the nerd herd, and the NAI tribe.

  2. I had so much fun tweeting! I made sure to tell presenters ahead of time that I would be tweeting their presentation. I didn’t want to seem “rude” with my thumbs a blazin!

  3. I’m still confused as to how my photo of you could be considered shenanigans, but it does cause me to consider the new word “Shea-nanigans,” which is loaded with potential.
    Like you Paul, I was amazed and impressed with how these tools were used in and around the workshop. I learned so much from both trying to explain things to others, as well as listening. We need, of course, to concentrate on themes, message content, and staying true to our roles and responsibilities as interpreters, but the energy and enthusiasm for using and playing with new tools to reach out and spread the message was gratifying and cool in the nerdy way. It was a great week in St. Paul.
    By the way, thank you for not insisting that I refer to you as ‘St. Paul.’

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