Back It Up, Back It Up, Back It Up…Guide for First-Time Backchannelers

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Two years ago, if you told me that I should backchannel, I would have said I can’t swim. (Get it…backchannel…backpaddle…?…meh). Anyway, now I backchannel everything I can. I’m actually following the #psuweb13 backchannel while I sit here writing this post. 🙂

Backchanneling is a live conversation occurring simulatneously along side an event conference, webcast, etc. In most cases it utilizes the Twitter platform and a hashtag has been created for participants to use. In someways it is a fairly new practice for events. But it is a fast growing way to stay in conversations and attend conferences across physical boundary limitations.

Now, because of my love for backchanneling, and that I’ve only been really into it for about two years, I figured I could give a First-Timers Guide to backchanneling.

So, here’s my Guide to First-time Backchannelers

1) Begin Locally: Start with a regional or local event or conference that you are attending. It helps to have friends and/or colleagues around to help you navigate if you have questions.

2) Observe: For the first hour or so, just watch and read the backchannel. Get a feel for the conversations and spirit of the conference. You can normally get a good feel how backchanneling goes, as well as the spirit of the event, the hour or so before an event or conference begins. For some it takes a little while to get used to following the real conversation and the backchannel simultaneously.

3) Take Notes: Use Twitter and the backchannel to just take notes during your first session, or so, that you attend. That way you can take notes as well as get used to using the hashtag and watching the backchannel.

4) Reply: On most active backchannels, when you take great notes or quotes from a session you’ll get retweets and comments. This is a great way to begin learning how to converse on the backchannel and also to get to know the individuals at the event or conference.

5) Utilize Media: If you like instagram or posting photos, practice during the morning welcome, intro or your first session or so to get used to doing so using the backchannel hashtag.

6)  Let Loose: Once you feel comfortable using the backchannel, and the hastag, let loose! Talk, chat, take notes, ask questions and backchannel it up!


Some of the best platforms to maintain your backchanneling are:




All you need is your Twitter handle and password.

If you have other tips or platforms for backchanneling, let me know! 🙂

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

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