People tweet highlights from keynote speakers, pose questions for other attendees, post photos and comments during floor presentations, and network with new friends. Because of social media, even those not in attendance can follow and contribute to the conversation.
Twitter is a useful tool for real-time interaction and engagement around a common interest. This year's annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix will be no different. Messengers from across the convention will be sharing, engaging and connecting in real-time via Twitter.
Hopefully, the WiFi and/or 3G coverage will be strong enough to comply with the volume of activity emanating from the multitude of smartphones throughout the convention hall.
For some SBC messengers, Twitter may be new territory. If you've yet to get involved with Twitter -- but you've been meaning to -- here's what you need to know to get started at this year's convention.
PRIOR TO CONVENTION
Starting a Twitter account takes less than 10 minutes at Twitter.com. Since you will be meeting new people, don't forget to add a recognizable photo to your profile and brief biographical sketch as an ID.
It's helpful to get the lay of the digital landscape, so freshen up on Twitter etiquette by reading a few articles, like Twitter 101 (http://bit.ly/exokUg). There's more than enough here to help you become engaged and connected in this new medium.
As a next step, download a Twitter tool or application on your mobile device, tablet or laptop. Echofon, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are all free and useful, but there are others that you might find and enjoy using more.
To prepare for the steady flow of what's happening in real-time when convention starts, create a search column for the hashtag "#SBC2011" in the app or program you will be using. Now, all the tweets from you and others who use this hashtag will be organized into one stream and easy to follow.
"Follow" the LifeWayNews SBC 2011 Twitter List (http://bit.ly/mhg6Xk). In this list you'll find Twitter accounts for SBC entities, leaders and personalities that will most likely be tweeting at convention.
Include the official "#SBC2011" hashtag in your tweets so others can follow your conference updates. Share comments, quotes, photos and other bits of information. Just remember that you only have 140 characters to make it happen. And if you expect people to "retweet" your messages, aim at around 100-120 characters to be safe.
Baptist Press will be tweeting real-time coverage from the floor, sharing breaking news, news stories and photo highlights from an overall convention perspective. Be sure to follow @BaptistPress to track all the parliamentary action, such as motions, resolutions or votes.
There are many SBCers to follow and engage during convention. Here are some of our LifeWay team that will be attending the convention: @LifeWay, @LifeWayStores, @LifeWayNews, @ThomRainer, @EdStetzer, @TomHellams, @Micah_Carter, @Jon_Wilke, @RussRankin, @TrevinWax, and @JCoppenger.
Here are several notable #SBC2011 Twitter accounts to follow, although this list is not exhaustive:
-- ASPIRE 2011 Pastors' Conference (Sunday-Monday): @VancePitman, @RickWarren, @JohnPiper, @KenWhitten, @AfshinZiafat, @LouieGiglio, @BobRobertsJr, @PaulGotthardt, @DarrinPatrick, @GreggMatte, @JohnnyMHunt.
-- Convention platform speakers/musicians (Tuesday-Wednesday): @BryantWright, @ThomRainer, @KevEzell, @DannyAkin, @DrPhilRoberts, @AlbertMohler, @Jeff_Iorg, @NOBTSpres (Chuck Kelley), @TElliff, @PlattDavid, @33Miles.
-- SBC entities: @GuideStone, @NAMB_SBC, @IMBconnecting, @ERLCsbc, @MBTS, @SEBTS, @SBTS, @GoldenGateBTS, @NOBTS_Live, @SWBTS.
-- Miscellaneous: @MABTS, @baptist21.
There are other leaders, pastors and messengers who could be added above. Be sure to check the @LifeWayNews SBC 2011 Twitter list to see if you're already there. If you'd like to be added to this list, email your Twitter handle to MediaRelations@LifeWay.com or simply tweet this message:
"Hey @LifeWayNews, I'm attending #SBC2011. Please add me to your SBC 2011 Twitter list."
I'm looking forward to reconnecting with old friends, ministry partners and colleagues this year in Phoenix. But I'm also excited about meeting new friends and networking -- perhaps through Twitter -- with brothers and sisters in Christ advancing the Kingdom through SBC channels.
I'll see you at #SBC2011, if not in person, then hopefully on Twitter.
@Micah_Carter is director of communications at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net