Twitter Analysis of the PRSA 2012 International Conference

Gina Joseph, social media community manager, also contributed to this report.

Whew, the whirlwind that was PRSA 2012 International Conference has come to a close. Our Cision representatives had a blast in San Francisco—showing off their caricatures, joining in on flash mobs, and most importantly, sharing the message of how Cision can help Power Your Story, with presentations and demonstrations from some of our company’s thought leaders.

So let’s break it all down, shall we? PRSAICon proved to be highly social, with thousands of tweets, Facebook shares and conversations all over the web. Using the Cision Social Media Dashboard powered by Radian6, we’ve created a quick social media recap of the conference using the conference hashtag, #PRSAICon.

We began by running a topic analysis widget of the hashtag to understand how many total mentions there have been since Saturday, October 13.

By selecting the option to count by “Unique Source Count” we can easily see how many unique individuals were mentioning the hashtag—which is a great way to show if there is a very active community. There are more than 2000 unique Twitter handles sharing content using #PRSAICon, so the community is active!

Next, we can look at how the conversations proceeded throughout the convention:

We can see that a majority of the conversations took place on October 14th. By opening up a conversation cloud, we can see the topics that were powering the conversation:


Notice a lot of the industry keywords (social media, marketing, #prsa) are dominating the conversation. But the @biz handle was the most mentioned keyword in conjunction with the conference’s hashtag. This makes sense since Twitter co-founder Biz Stone was the keynote presentation for the event.

Using the Insights, we can determine other factors for identifying which Twitter handles held the most influence throughout the conference. Below are the most re-tweeted usernames in conjunction with the hashtag. This allows us to see which handles are sharing the most content.

However, to see which tweeters were being mentioned the most with the hashtag, we can run the insight for “usernames mentioned”, here:


The PRSA International Conference proved to be a social mecca, where tons of great insights and ideas were passed around by attendees and floated out to those who could only follow along on Twitter. What were some of your favorite lessons or takeaways that came to you via 140 characters?

4 replies
    Judy Gombita says:

    It's nice that you can track social media usage during the PRSA conference….but how can this information be USEFUL to the conference organizers, the presenters, the sponsor vendors and the average participant?

    I think that's the big gap that is missing:

    Does tweeting about a conference make it better (i.e., a more useful experience), both to the people attending and the non-paying observers? I mean, aren't we past the "WOW, 25 per cent of attendees were tweeting the conference!!!" phase?

    That's an area we covered in our all-time-most popular PR Conversations (joint) post: Using Twitter for PR Events

      nshafer2 says:

      That is a great point Judy! This information can only be useful to any of these organizations IF they have identified their goals or KPI’s that will measure this usefulness. For example, we can monitor every time Cision is mentioned with #PRSAICon but that doesn't really show us much as you pointed out. However, when we integrate demographic information from twitter we can determine which content or campaigns resonated with the different age or gender groups. Our very own Heidi Sullivan did a great presentation on this at PRSAICon and dove deeper into the psychoanalytic capabilities that can be measured as well. I personally love to integrate Google Analytics into our social media dashboard to determine which keywords and twitter handles are driving the actions on our website. I hope this helps answer some of your concerns and thank you again for your feedback!

      Judy Gombita says:

      Thanks, Nate. I appreciate your nuanced response. Yes, KPI’s are useful in a marketing campaign—but is that what tracking live-tweeting of #PRSAICon was about? After all, it’s unlikely that any non-attendee felt compelled during the conference to quickly register and make arrangements to travel to San Francisco, thereby bumping up the numbers. Long-term marketing for next year’s conference? Maybe. But given how many conferences are held in any year, remembering those tweets for 12 months as an incentive is highly unlikely, UNLESS, something is done with the information gleaned. What speakers and topics resounded most? Which were most closely aligned with the public relations discipline? Which speakers received a lot of tweets, but actually didn’t deliver information that would be very PR relevant? And this would be more useful from a conference planning perspective, rather than an inducement to register as an attendee.

      I’d also pay attention to what percentage of tweets were basically useless to 99 per cent of the attendees or greater audience. Do they really need to make it into the overall calculation? As a side note, I’ve always been amazed when people use public channels to make plans for lunch, figuring out where in the room the person they are meeting is, etc. I mean, isn’t that what the DM function is designed for? Those are essentially vanity tweets and definitely should not have had the #PRSAICon hashtag attached or in my opinion be included in Cision’s overall tracking.

      The psychology of live-tweeting interests me—what is the primary motivation for individuals other than the host organization (i.e., staff or committee members dedicated to that task)? The more noble pursuit would be the idea of sharing information with a greater audience, but I suspect for many it’s simply a way to get a higher profile and make some noise.

      After all, you are sitting in a room with hundreds of other people. Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend the time getting to know the people around you better—debate something, trade ideas, get to know one another better—rather than live-tweeting into the Internet ether? When I attend events I introduce myself to people around me, have conversations, take copious notes (for my own knowledge and/or possible use in a post for PR Conversations or my Bytes from the PR Sphere column) and ask questions at the end of the speaker, if the opportunity is provided.

      I don’t actually like sitting next to people who are voluminous live-tweeters. They tend to be less friendly and conversant, sometimes appearing like a zombie. It’s rather discourteous when the person would rather communicate with the amorphous Internet population than the person sitting next to him or her.

      I don’t mean to imply that this Cision exercise was not of value and use; rather, I’d suggest that future iterations focus on the qualitative, rather than quantitative, aspects of the project. For example, make use of your informed subject experts such as Heidi Sullivan and offer a thoughtful and informed opinion as to why those sound bites from Biz Stone appeared to resonate with so many. Were they useful or just clever sayings that conveniently fit into 140 characters of fewer? Of the regular attendees who were cited as tweeted the most, analyze the content of their tweets, again for usefulness. For example, I was pleased that Gerard Corbett, APR, Fellow, PRSA, RT’d my observation that far too many people continued to equate public relations with simply media relations…especially in light of the newest definition of public relations that PRSA announced this year. Cheers.

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