Social reporting: a primer

Published on 13 Aug 2015

Flipcharts and sticky notes are great for capturing thoughts and discussions at conferences and workshops ... until it comes to summarising and sharing.

Social reporting is the use of social media to record and share these thoughts and discussions. In digital format, sharing becomes easy.

Getting started

You might already be doing it. Twitter is widely used to report what's happening at conferences. With a smartphone participants can take photos of flipcharts and share them using Twitter. These Tweets and photos can be gathered into a record of the event using Storify.

So, sticky notes and flipcharts are not made redundant. We are simply using social media to capture and share what they say.

Next, consider audio and video recording to capture and share what's happening using services such as Audioboom, Soundcloud, Vimeo or Flickr. Be as creative as you like!


Social reporting is an integral part of the event - not an add-on. It has to be planned along with all the other elements that contribute to a well run event.

Remember to use only the tools and services you and your participants will be comfortable with. Find the blend that works best for each event.

Think about whether speakers' presentations will be suitable for video or audio recording. Recording video or audio interviews with the speakers can be an effective alternative to recording whole presentations. Be sure to build time for this into the programme.

Rules, etiquette and ethics

  • Some discussions may involve confidential or sensitive information. It is, therefore, necessary to know when to opt out, or to moderate before it goes public.
  • Get permission in advance and in writing to record and publish speakers' presentations.
  • If videoing or taking still photos make sure participants know - and know how to opt out.
  • Encourage rather than force the use of social media.

Sample plan

Here is a step by step plan for social reporting. It's important to note who is responsible for each step and whether any special locations are required (eg a quiet space for interviews).

Before the event

  1. Start building a web presence for the event [WHO?]
  2. Set up blog [WHO?] - programme, venue info, participants, reading or other preparation.
  3. Choose a Twitter hashtag [WHO?]
  4. Start tweeting [WHO?]
  5. Check the venue has an internet connection [WHO?]

During the event

  1. Remind participants about the social reporting plans and encourage them to take part [CHAIR]
  2. Participants post insights, questions and discussion summaries on Twitter [ALL]
  3. Audio record key speakers [WHO?]
  4. Video and/or audio record summaries of key speakers [WHO? WHERE?]
  5. Post-It notes and flipcharts photographed and shared via Flickr [WHO?]

After the event

  1. Gather Tweets and other materials from the web (eg Youtube, Audioboom, Flickr, blog) into a 'story' [WHO?]
  2. Share link on blog, Twitter and other social media as appropriate [WHO?]

You can use this template to plan your event in detail.

Traditional and social reporting compared


  • Individual reporting
  • Each participant writes his/her own report and/or notes which may or may not be shared
  • There is no reporting team to be coordinated by event organisers
  • Top-down reporting
  • Report not available until weeks after the event
  • Uncoordinated process between organisers and participants
  • Several reports stored in different places
  • No interaction, no synergies

Social (light)

  • Social reporting by designated people
  • A designated person or team is responsible for reporting.
  • The reporters post content on social media.
  • Participants may contribute to the report as interviewees and commentators, but they don't post comments, videos or tweets on their own.
  • Topics to be covered and tools to be used are planned in detail prior to the event
  • Participants contribute to the official report, if approached by the reporting team
  • Diluted top-down reporting process
  • Creates little learning for the participants because they don't contribute actively to the report

Social (full)

  • Social reporting by participants
  • A reporting team leads workshop participants to co-create a report
  • Participants write blog entries, capture video-statements from fellow participants, upload self-made photos and videos to the event blog or Twitter
  • Participatory approach fosters joint reflection and networking among participants
  • High ownership of the final report by the participants
  • Participants gain new knowledge by writing, filming, tweeting or drawing.
  • Bottom-up reporting.
  • Participants need to know how to use the reporting tools.
  • The online report needs to be restructured after the event into a logical form.
  • Organisers have little control over the final content: the report is a learning instrument for the participants.

Find out more ...

Or contact us if you would like help setting up social reporting.