Thanks for your post regarding social media and conferences, it is an interesting topic and I am sure that this will not be the last conversation about it. I mostly agree with you but I am also a little bit afraid of sounding like the guy shaking his fist and yelling “get off my lawn you damn kids!”
I guess I do not know if it really matters either way.
HR conferences need to get better. Everyone knows this and people are trying to new things. Part of the answer might be social media, but I think that at this time, social media coverage of the average conference session is largely about perception. Are there hundreds or thousands of HR professionals following the tweet stream of a given HR conference? No. No, there are not. Those folks have work to do. I might be following it and I am sure that there are some other folks paying attention, but it is mostly those of us that occupy space in the relatively small, somewhat incestuous “HR blog-o / tweet-o sphere.” Sometimes we make too big a deal of what we are doing and forget the people doing the actual work (yourself, for example Jason) that we are supposed to be trying to help and support. I don’t see it as being horribly distracting, but I also do not know if actually adds much value to the conference beyond perception.
As a speaker, I love it if you tweet from my session, blog from my session, send smoke signals or Morse code from my session. But that is because I am a speaker and I have ego issues. Love me, hate me, whatever you do just talk about me. Just kidding…kind of.
At the end of your post you suggest conferences hire professionals to live tweet or live blog their sessions and I guess I have the same feeling about that. I think that it can certainly add to the perception of the conference for those not there, but I am not sold on how much it adds to the conference itself (except for the speakers).
Tweet away I say. Tweet away, blog away, spread the love. No harm no foul.
If I was planning an event my time and my resources would be focused on bringing in really, really good speakers (which I think few conferences do well), creating a great vibe (like the OH SHRM folks did last week) and supporting lots of good interaction. If you do that, the word will spread.
Put that in your twitter and tweet it.