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BarCamps and Social Walls

A Perfect Match for Interactive Events

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The German foundation “Stiftung Bürgermut” has been organising BarCamps for many years. They’ve also been using Walls.io social walls as a complement to these events, to make them even more interactive. We’ve asked Stiftung Bürgermut’s managing director Katarina Peranić to tell us more about why Walls.io and BarCamps go so well together.

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#OpenTransfer BarCamps

Use Case: Social wall for BarCamp events

Customer: Stiftung Bürgermut

Website: www.opentransfer.de

Social media wall: walls.io/otc18

Campaign duration: repeats yearly

Subscription type: Sponsored (Walls.io sponsors BarCamps!)

Channels connected: Twitter (profile & hashtag), Instagram, Facebook Page, Google+, YouTube, Flickr

One of Stiftung Bürgermut’s programmes, OpenTransfer, is dedicated to knowledge transfer between projects. But what even is knowledge transfer or project transfer?

Project transfer: No need to reinvent the wheel

Around the world, non-profit projects work on solving social issues. When a successful project ends, the experiences, knowledge and skills accumulated throughout the project often go to waste. Project transfer is the process of transferring knowledge gained from successful projects to bigger projects or to similar projects in different areas. Stiftung Bürgermut researches those small projects that aim to solve common social issues and then helps disseminate those functioning models nationwide.

openTransfer.de is the foundation’s resource and communication hub for all those looking to scale their non-profit projects based on project transfer. The platform is aimed at volunteer project initiators, non-profit organisations and social entrepreneurs alike.

openTransfer BarCamps: Solving problems together

On top of the resources provided online, Stiftung Bürgermut also regularly organises openTransfer BarCamps. The foundation has organised more than 20 BarCamps since 2012, focusing on a variety of topics related to project transfer.

A woman and a man are engaged in a lively, friendly discussion. They’re sitting in front of a glass window that has that #otc18 hashtag printed onto it.
Attendees at an openTransfer BarCamp in Stuttgart in 2018. (Photo credit: Henning Schacht/Stiftung Bürgermut)

For a few years now, Walls.io has been a permanent part of these openTransfer BarCamps, contributing a sponsored wall for each event.

Did you know that Walls.io sponsors BarCamps by providing them with free social media walls? To get started just click on the button below and sign up for a free trial wall. Contact us with more details about your BarCamp. We will activate your sponsored wall in no time!

Get a free social wall for your BarCamp!

After a few years of collaboration, we thought it was time to ask why BarCamps, social walls and knowledge transfer go so well together. To find out more, we had a little chat with Katarina Peranić, managing director of Stiftung Bürgermut.

Katarina Peranić, Stiftung Bürgermut, at an openTransfer barcamp, Walls.io in the background
Katarina Peranić at the openTransfer CAMP Berlin in 2013 (Photo credit: Samantha Dietmar/Stiftung Bürgermut)

Could you tell us a little bit about how you are using hashtags and social media walls for openTransfer?

The aim of the openTransfer programme is to help non-profit organisations replicate and scale their social impact. We believe that for most challenges very good solutions already exist.

We use social media, we have a blog, we organise around 5 BarCamps each year and a dozen webinars, and we offer various support resources on the website. All activities are closely linked with each other. That‘s why hashtags are very important to us.

A laptop showing the social wall at an openTransfer barcamp in 2015
Walls.io at the openTransfer CAMP Refugee Helpers 2015 (Photo credit: Christian Klant/Stiftung Bürgermut)

Which hashtags are you using and why?

We simply combine the acronym OTC (for openTransfer CAMP) with the current year — so #otc17, #otc18, and so forth. The hashtag is short and only temporarily occupied by other Twitter users, so we’ve been able to make it ours.

What is it about knowledge transfer, BarCamps and social media walls that makes them such a good fit?

If you want to transfer knowledge it has to spread. Social media walls are a proven communication platform for connecting people who participate in an event and for sharing what is going on with anyone on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram… It broadens the potential audience of the event. On the wall, attendees can see who else is engaged or working in the same field and is worth being followed. Thus, it connects people far beyond the event.

Audience sitting in a large hall facing the stage. Behind the presenter on stage, the Walls.io social wall is projected on a large screen.
openTransfer BarCamp in Stuttgart in 2018 with a social wall sponsored by Walls.io. (Photo credit: Henning Schacht/Stiftung Bürgermut)

We like the open setting of BarCamps because we believe that the participants have a better and deeper knowledge than we, the organiser. It is up to them to influence what is happening on that day, what the agenda is like and what kind of knowledge they exchange. Social media has always been an essential part of BarCamps, and for us, it is the perfect channel to let many people know about, share and comment on what we are planning.

Where are you implementing the social wall?

At each BarCamp, we set up a beamer in the main hall where everybody gathers. Participants can immediately see their own social media activities on the wall.

Moreover, we embed the wall on our website opentransfer.de and refer to it on Facebook and Twitter.

After multiple years of running social media walls at your BarCamps, what key learnings have you taken away?

For us, it was not enough to just have the social media wall up on a screen where our participants hang out during the workshops. We decided to show it on the big screen during the “plenum” when everyone is in the same room. In fact, it became some sort of “kiss cam” where people spot their posting and are loving it. Aside from that, it became essential to thoughtfully manage the hashtag. Some other organisations use the same hashtag, so we had to become the “owner”, meaning we had to use it regularly — not just during the events.

How are you promoting the hashtag?

We promote the hashtag before, during and after the event in all our communication activities. At the BarCamps themselves, it has become part of our “instruction routine” to ask the people to spread the word and to let everybody know what is happening at the BarCamp by using the hashtag.

Barcamp opening instructions at the openTransfer Barcamp Frankfurt in 2014 (photo credit: Andi Weiland/openTransfer)
BarCamp opening instructions at the openTransfer CAMP Frankfurt in 2014 (Photo credit: Andi Weiland/Stiftung Bürgermut)

Has there been a change in how attendees react to the social wall and hashtag? Do you see more participation, less hesitation, etc.?

For most attendees these days, seeing a social media wall at an event is not much of a surprise anymore. Especially tech-savvy people already expect it. Over time it became less of an obstacle for most people to be part of the social media wall but rather became an incentive. The contributions on the wall are still quite heterogeneous: there are those seeking a substantial exchange of thoughts but also those who rather post pictures of their coffee mugs. That will probably never change.

An audience member stands up to take a photo of the stage (openTransfer BarCamps)
Audience participation is key for hashtags at events. When people at a BarCamp take photos and post them with the official hashtag, the social wall is filled with interesting content. (Photo credit: Henning Schacht/Stiftung Bürgermut)

BarCamps and social walls complement each other

It isn’t often that we get a chance to check in with customers over years of them using social walls and to learn what they have learned from continued use. The openTransfer BarCamps allow us to get a peek into how organisations evolve their use of social walls and to see how they adapt their social media practices in general.

Two key learnings for Stiftung Bürgermut after years of organising openTransfer BarCamps are

  1. that a social wall can act as a “campfire” at an event and is best placed centrally so people can congregate around it, and
  2. that it is incredibly important to “own” your hashtag throughout the year and make sure it is intrinsically tied to your organisation.

Overall, Stiftung Bürgermut and openTransfer really show how well the democratic nature of BarCamps goes with the accessibility of a social wall. BarCamps live and die by the contributions of its participants in an open forum. And equally, a social wall comes to life when everyone can easily contribute to it by using a hashtag.

It confirms, once again, why it is so important to us to offer free sponsored walls to BarCamps around the world. BarCamps can be fertile ground for new ideas and progress and that is something we want to support.

Get a free social wall for your BarCamp now!

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