Modern conferences are increasingly interactive affairs. It's common for events to have Twitter walls throughout the venue where delegates, speakers and sponsors alike can share their thoughts on the days events.
As a means of encouraging more engagement it's great, but do such online conversations result in larger followers for those that participate? That's the question Nesta, a UK innovation charity, wanted an answer to. They used LeWeb 2012 as their test bed, as thousands of people descended on London for one of Europe's largest technology events.
They teamed up with Trampoline Systems to gather data on the Twitter activity of 80% of event attendees. These accounts were examined before the event, during it, and afterwards to try and gauge the impact the event had on the connections people made.
The results make interesting reading, both for event organisers, and for those looking to attend (or indeed speak at) events. They found that the rate of new followers increased by 15% in the three months after the event. This was even more pronounced for speakers at the event, who saw their rate of new followers increase by 26%.
The suggestion is clear. Attending the event caused attendees to seek out and gain new followers faster than would otherwise have been the case. What's more, the number of replies and retweets increases significantly in the month after the event, compared to the month preceeding it. So people that connected to each other during the event, sustained that relationship after the event.
Suffice to say, the research isn't able to explain the quality of the connections made, but in many ways, that isn't the point of such events. They exist to trigger new thoughts and bring people together around a common interest. Once the connections are made, it really is up to the two protagonists as to what they do from there on. If you're either an organiser or an attendee though, it certainly provides some interesting food for thought.