#15NTC: Carousels & session specific hashtags

While Austin is on my list of places I must visit, getting to the Nonprofit Technology Conference (#15NTC) there last week just wasn’t in the cards for me. Tough to swallow in a way because as Farra Trompeter tweeted, the conference itself is like a family reunion–but one that you actually want to attend. A huge part of what makes NTC special is the people and return visits mean seeing folks you’ve met previously and meeting new ones especially those you’ve only known online.

So I really missed being at NTC. It didn’t matter where it was being held. What I missed most was the rush of positive energy from coming together with more than 1500 people who are dedicated to changing the world. People who do more than wish they could change the world. People who are confident they are changing the world and are excited about how they can enhance their ability to do so.

Experiencing #15NTC from afar

The upside was that I knew I could still learn a lot from following #15NTC tweets. As Julie Lacouture’s tweet shows, there was enough shared on Twitter alone to demonstrate the value of joining NTEN.

I enjoyed all the nuggets of wisdom and happily retweeted them to share the knowledge forward. Many reinforced what I know and say but there is always lots of great new information.

The death of the slider

Interestingly, one that sticks out to me was the repeated call for the end of the carousel on websites. Took me a bit to figure out what a carousel was because in my world the same tool is called a slider (such as the one on the main page of this website).

I’ve always liked them. Not only does their motion make the page look dynamic, they feature large photos that draw your attention to what is new or important. Rotating at an appropriate speed they give you a chance to place more than one static communications priority in that prime location.

But apparently the carousel/slider is now passe and a sign of poor website design. I wasn’t convinced until I followed the link in this tweet:

It takes you to an example of carousel to show and explain why you shouldn’t use one.

What struck me was that despite it’s size, motion and prime location, sliding carousels only receive 1% of clicks the 89% of main pages that featured them. By any standard of measurement that’s a failure that provides a learning opportunity. I’m currently figuring out how to better use space devoted to my main page slider.

Thoughts on conference hashtags

I love that hashtags allow me to follow conferences through event tweeting.

I saw many tweets encouraging people to do that by using the #15NTC hashtag. Yet that’s no longer enough as I observed at #14NTC. To get the most out of the conference via Twitter, you also need to use the conference specific hashtags such as #15ntcactivismwins.

At my first NTC, I found their use of hashtags to be brilliant. Searching for #12NTC would show you any tweet that started with #12NTC including all the session tags #12NTCsessionname. You could get the wealth of knowledge of the whole conference but you could also narrow in on a specific session if you preferred.

But last year, I noticed that was no longer happening. Twitter’s search only pulls up tweets matching the exact hashtag. So using #15NTC was no longer enough. Only follow it and you’d miss tweets using a session specific hashtag. Only use it and your tweets probably won’t be seen by people using only the session specific hashtag.

So that meant that some people used both the general and specific hashtag–using precious characters to repeat #15NTC. But there is currently no other way to do what was more efficient.

So should there be session specific hashtags?

As a participant and especially as a virtual attendee, I really like having session specific hashtags for a conference with lots of sessions like NTC. They really help to narrow in on the set of knowledge shared in a session.

On the other hand, they do dilute a conference’s online presence. So the more people who use just the session specific hashtage, the less likely the main hashtag will trend or be noticed. As a conference organizer, that result is undesirable.

So what to do? Try to get attendees to use both the general and specific hashtags. A tip to help make that easier to do is to keep the session specific tags short so that it’s easier to type and/or include without using too many characters.

I do hope I am able to attend #16NTC! Will I see you at nonprofit tech’s family reunion too?