Amplifying Events through Social Media

How can social media be put to good effect to amplify events?

This week Jisc held its annual Digifest in Birmingham (#Digifest17) and the Subject Specialist team were working hard behind the scenes to ensure the event trended on social media and reached out to those ‘attending’ the event virtually, as well as complementing the activities for those physically present over the two days.

I’m thrilled to report that this year’s #Digifest17 trended third in the UK (just behind the Cheltenham races and Donald Trump’s tax returns!) and experienced in the region of 5,000 tweets under the hashtag!

If you’re looking to amplify your own events with a social media backchannel here are a few pointers to consider that I picked up from #Digifest17.

Preparation, preparation, preparation!

Yes, social media is by its very nature serendipitous, but that doesn’t mean to say that leaving everything to chance will guarantee that it will give your event the coverage it deserves – there’s a lot you can do in advance of the event to maximise engagement on the day itself.

It’s always advisable to create a hashtag early on in the planning process and use it from day one with all content to do with the event. This not only helps to give attendees a central source of up to date news about the event it also empowers your potential attendees to do some of that all-important marketing for you!

Make sure you do your research and find out whether speakers have social media accounts they’re happy to include and have any links to presentations and so on too. Prepare a few template tweets to fire off on the day with this kind of information and you will save you a lot of work later.

Creating social media sharing buttons on any sites you use to provide information about the event also gets the message out there. There are plenty of sites out there that allow you to do it, such as ClicktoTweet, and encourage your speakers and attendees to announce to their followers that they will be attending your event.

It’s not just about Twitter …

The Open University have developed a social media toolkit that includes a really useful overview of many social media tools, such as Periscope, Flickr and Storify, that all link well with Twitter and other social media platforms to amplify your events that’s worth checking out.

On the day of the event assign dedicated people to manage your social media channels so attendees’ posts are responded to and even incorporated into the feel of the event. There are logistical considerations to consider, like ensuring mobile devices being used are fully charged, that all sessions at the event have some coverage and the people doing the social media amplifying are well placed in workshop rooms to hear everything, take photos and capture videos too. If you have access to widescreen TVs dotted around the event venue there are plenty of sites that allow you to display the social media buzz in a visually impactful way too.

Tom Mitchell, Digital Communications Manager at Jisc, also recommends creating a Facebook event page to generate a buzz before, during and after an event. Take a look at the #Digifest17 event page here on Facebook for some ideas on the kinds of things to include.

In a post on the Inspiring Learning blog Chris Thomson provides a closer look at Periscope and explains how it can be easily put to good effect to live stream presentations and workshops at events – again, the point about setting up beforehand in a good viewing position away from unnecessary background noise is doubly important here.

The key is to include a range of media to ensure the content is fresh, stimulating and adds value to the event. Photos, videos, links to presentations and further content all add value and are more likely to amplify your event.

Some may even scoff at the seemingly trivial nature of sharing photos of cakes and the like at events, but sometimes quirky can generate interest and help boost your event in ways you’d never even have anticipated. I remember being at a Connect More event last summer where a little toy monkey kept mysteriously cropping up in many of the photos and it certainly added a sense of fun and got plenty of retweets (it became a little bit like a game of ‘Where’s Wally!’).

Remember to keep your attendees engaged before, during and after the event too. Storify is a great way of bringing together your portfolio of social media around a particular event into one place by creating a digital record (or story) that can be shared with attendees afterwards. It also includes your attendees in that social media buzz around the event by acknowledging their posts – take a look at the Storify from Jisc’s Connect More event in Liverpool last summer for ideas.

Find out more!

I’ve created a draft checklist for using social media that you are welcome to use as a starting point at your own events. Feel free to repurpose this as required and let us know your own experiences of using social media at events in the comments section below.

All the resources from #Digifest17 will soon be available here and for more tips on using social media in teaching and learning take a look at Jisc’s 50 most influential Further Education professionals and Higher Education professionals using social media.

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Ten Top Tips for maintaining a positive digital footprint

Recently I was asked if I had anything to use with academic staff and/or students to give them some basic pointers on how to be a little more savvy with their social media use.

Image by geralt, available on Pixabay under a Creative Commons licence.

Continue reading Ten Top Tips for maintaining a positive digital footprint

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Safeguarding Learners Online (workshop resources)

This post is dedicated to the resources used to complement the face to face training session on ‘Safeguarding Learners Online.’ The main focus of the workshop is to empower teachers to embed aspects of e-safety into their everyday practice, which typically involves promoting the safe and responsible use of social media. Continue reading Safeguarding Learners Online (workshop resources)

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Tools to promote learning (#5 Socrative)

I’ve often heard the phrase “We don’t have time!” during staff development sessions where staff are encouraged to embed technology into their practice. Without wanting to get into the argument of whether this is a perfectly justified response or whether it hides a range of other issues that are not technology related per se (like anything else, it will depend on context), I wanted to flag one tool in particular that can save time.

Finding time Continue reading Tools to promote learning (#5 Socrative)

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Activities to Promote E-safety

Promoting e-safety in the Further Education and Skills sector can be a bit of a tightrope walk – you’re caught between ensuring the wellbeing of your learners and allowing them the freedom of expression and experimentation in online spaces that allow them to learn and develop as individuals. Continue reading Activities to Promote E-safety

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Tools to Promote Learning (#4 the iMovie app)

“I do enjoy making videos, even though they are long days and very hard work.

Tanya Tucker, American country and music artist.

Without doubt, making quality video is a painstaking process, and I can’t deny – to do it right takes time. Having said that though, there’s something very enjoyable about crafting a short video; editing the scenes, adding the music and so on, that makes it very satisfying. I don’t know whether that’s the creative, geeky part of me talking or it’s something else, but making short videos for others to enjoy can be immensely rewarding.

That’s why I want to talk about the iMovie app for iPhone/iPad – it allows you to indulge those creative impulses and takes much of the pain out of the process.

I first took an interest in the iMovie app for reasons that weren’t anything to do with education. I was on holiday with my nephew and he was monopolising my iPad for his own personal amusement (as usual) whilst I enjoyed a bit of welcome peace and quiet.

Without any encouragement from me he started dabbling with many of the apps and before I knew it he was making short videos all by himself, adding transitions, special effects, music, and so on. Of course, he wasn’t about to get any phone calls from Steven Spielberg, but they were pretty impressive efforts nevertheless – for an eleven year old!

Since then I’ve been exploring some of the features of the iMovie app in more detail and have been creating my own short videos for a variety of different audiences.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of indulging my inner-geek by attending a Steampunk event at the Papplewick Pumping Station (arguably Britain’s finest Victorian Water Works). As you can imagine, these Steampunk affairs are a frivolous (and very enjoyable) exercise in sartorial flamboyance and excess – the perfect opportunity for a bit of videoing!

Anyway, here’s my short video from the day which captures a popular favourite at Steampunk events – the tea duel.  I’ll discuss some of the key features I employed using the iMovie app after the video below:-

Before you start your project, most people are likely to have all their video clips on their iPhone rather than an iPad, if you do have both and the video is all on your phone you might want to transfer your video files to your iPad first using Airdrop (it’s a little easier to edit the video on a bigger screen).

Now, to some of the video editing features and techniques available through the app which I found particularly useful:-

  • There are lots of special effects you can apply to the look of your video, depending on your subject matter. You may not want to change this at all, but for my video I’ve gone for the ‘Silent Era’ effect, which is perfect for creating a sense of time and age.
  • About twenty five seconds into the video I’ve superimposed one bit of video over another in order to show the inner workings of the pumping station. In this article Jeff Carlson, author of iPad and iPhone Video: Film, Edit and Share the Apple Way, explains exactly how you can do this in the app.
  • The Ken Burns effect (a type of panning and zooming effect) is really handy to apply to still images to create a sense of atmosphere. I’ve used this at the start of the duel to zoom into the faces of the two duellists.
  • iMovie comes with a range of sound effects that you can embed into your movies easily – perhaps too easily… However, a word of caution, although it’s simple enough to include songs from your iTunes library you might not want to if you are sharing your videos widely and don’t want to fall foul of copyright. One work-around I employ is to use the mic icon whilst editing a project in iMovie to record audio through your device whilst playing music from another source, such as tracks on SoundCloud, which have been labelled under a Creative Commons licence. You can search for creative commons music on SoundCloud here.
  • You’ll notice in my video there’re some close up shots of the combatants eyes as the duel reaches its climax (this is a bit of a homage to my love of spaghetti westerns – there’s a very similar scene at the end of Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly). This is achieved by a really nifty feature in the iMovie app where you select the video clip and click on the magnifying glass icon and can then zoom in on the clip by pinching it with two fingers. This is very handy to know if you have a video clip, but you want to focus on one specific section of it or cut out anything that’s superfluous in the shot.


  • Add closed captions to your video to make it more accessible to those with hearing impairments or speakers of other languages. Although this isn’t a feature of the iMovie app itself, it is nevertheless something you can do very easily after uploading your finished iMovie project into YouTube (read here for details).

One final footnote on kit, it’s worth investing in a tripod, it really does make a difference. You don’t have to pay the earth – I have a GorrilaPod which cost me twenty pounds on Amazon and is a must if you are doing video interviews one on one.

Whether you create the videos yourself for your learners or, better still, have the learners create their own videos on a subject that interests them, video production involves a whole range of creative skills that can motivate and inspire learners.

Continue reading Tools to Promote Learning (#4 the iMovie app)

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