This evening I gave a talk for the Chicago Interactive Designers and Developers Meetup. I’ve been so busy lately that I did not think to promote it well in advance. As a result I didn’t get the word out about it until late in the afternoon today.

With tools like Twitter search and bit.ly, I was able to track all the chatter leading up to it and as well as during the talk. I was so excited to see all this data that I felt like I had to share this experience for people who doubt the utility of Twitter.

3:00PM – I send out my first Tweet about my talk. Mind you my talk is at 6PM. A few moments later I send out another Tweet about it.

In about 2 hours, I count 10 tweets regarding the event, using a quick search for my name or the talk. I also track the amount of times that people click on the link to the talk page. By 5PM there are over 50 clicks to the page. At this point I’m pretty giddy. I’m no David Armano or Frank Ze so 10 tweets and 50 click-throughs is huge.

I wanted to see if people would tweet about the talk during the talk or afterwards. This was what I did to foster that. Once the talk begins I start off by telling people to use the hash tag #chiixdd (for Chicago Interactive Designers & Developers). Judi the organizer also tells people to use #cidd. On the front page of my presentation I also give my Twitter username.

A quick search on my name right after the talk yielded this – around 13 tweets.

Digging a little deeper I found other mentions:

What’s cool is Roundarch (the company that puts food on the table for me) got mentioned and so did Merapi, the Flash Java Bridge created by by Adam Flater, another Roundarcher.

Another interesting measure is to look at the number of followers that each person who tweeted your message has. Essentially that is the number of people who heard your message. I counted up all followers and it came to 4314. So the key in Twitter’s utility is other people spreading your message. If it was just up to me, only 629 people would hear my message but because other people have passed my message along, my reach has increased 4 fold in this instance. And I’m some super no name guy. Imagine if you had 20,000 followers and thousands of people who retweeted your message.

Did I also tell you bit.ly is the bomb? Before if you pasted a link on Twitter, you’d have no way of knowing how many people clicked on that link if it wasn’t your own site. A quick look at the bitly page for the meetup page that I tweeted tells me over 100 people have clicked on the page at the time of this writing.

So for all you Twitter haters or people who think that there is no use to Twitter, think again. In a very short amount of time (3 hrs), a no name speaker such as myself is able to broaden his reach in getting people to know about his talk. About 70 people RSVPed and about 40 people showed up. I’m told that it’s a pretty decent turnout and that the ratio is usually about 50%.

If anyone has great Twitter stories, I’d love to hear them as well.

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