Eighty percent of messages posted to micro-blogging site Twitter about a specific event tend to be made by just 35 percent of registrants, according to a survey released in September by Amiando Event Registration and Ticketing. While only a few very busy folks tweeted hundreds of times—65 percent tweeted just once—the big tweeters do tend to have a lot of followers, so it makes sense to pay attention to the “power users” at your events, the report says. (You can usetools such as Twittergrader to find out who your power users are.) The study also recommends that show organizers encourage their random users to tweet more by directly responding to their tweets.

In the April to May 2010 period study, the surveyors collected a total of 31,442 tweets from 10 different events, which averaged out to 3.2 tweets per user and 3,144 per event.

But averages don’t really tell the story. According to the study, some events had fewer tweeters than attendees, while others had eight times more people tweeting about the meeting than were registered to attend. The TEDxTokyo conference, which had limited registration and was streamed live online so people could follow it from home, had the highest number of off-site tweeters. To further encourage Twitter usage around your events, the study recommends that planners make key content available online, concluding: “It is on you to provide material for Twitter activity.”

When it comes to the event/Twitter life cycle, the study found that tweets spike during the event—60 percent were made while the show was going on—with the remaining 40 percent split almost evenly before and afterward. The study also found a smaller spike a few days later, when additional session videos and other materials were posted online.

But what are attendees tweeting about? The vast majority (91 percent) of tweets were what the survey organizers labeled as “neutral,” meaning they were not specifically about the event or were asking for more information. Eight percent said something positive, and less than 1 percent tweeted negatively.

As could be expected, before the events people were tweeting logistical information, such as travel details, where they were staying, and session plans. During the events, they shared information about sessions and speakers, and got last-minute information from advertisers and the show organizers. After the event, they tweeted their overall feedback and takeaways, and about links to material from the show. Show organizers should pay particular attention to the during-show activity to glean feedback about speakers and sessions, the study concludes. They also should follow up with additional materials from the show afterward to encourage further tweets.

To learn about Twitter behavior at events, from social-media user activity levels to the life cycle of social media at events, Amiando chose 10 social-media–friendly events to ensure they would get a fair amount of Twitter activity to measure: Web 2.0 Expo 2010, San Francisco; MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Boston; Frozen Rails, Helsinki; Green Venture Summit 2010, Berlin; Next 10, Berlin; Art Directors Club Summit, Frankfurt; SWITCH Conference, Coimbra, Portugal; TEDxTokyo, Tokyo; Future of Web Design, London; and the Gilbane Conference, San Francisco.

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For more on social media and meetings, visit our Social Media Special Report