Live blogging at Share Fair in Rome, 09
Live blogging at Share Fair in Rome, 09

Social Reporting

as a contribution to facilitating and documenting events (of communities)

What is Social Reporting

Social reporting is the use of social media to report collectively and live from events, like workshops, and conferences. It allows to share in real time photos, videos, power point presentations, and summaries / comments. You can for example set up a blog for an event, feed in your photostream from Flickr as well as your bookmarks from delicious, videos on Blip TV, Vimeo or YouTube, or twitter feeds. You can blog about the different session, and include short interviews in video, podcast or written format. You can invite participants to be part of the social reporting team by contributing with blog posts, photos, and videos. SR adds to the "official" documentation a rich mix of stories and conversations. It means a contribution to both facilitation and documenting. And it has human voice and a philosophy of inclusion and empowerment.

Social reporting from events varies from traditional "post event" reporting in two ways.
  1. Interactive: It happens both during and after the event to allow people who cannot be at the F2F to have at the minimum a "line of sight" to the event and possibly even a way to interact with people at the event by commenting on material produce from the event.
  2. Collaborative: It is done not by one person, but by a team that can either be a dedicated reporting team, or if your event participants have some social media experience, ANYONE can contribute by uploading and tagging photos, taking notes and blogging them from sessions, or participating in a podcast.
A benefit of social reporting is that you get the results of an event out to constituents faster. And after all, who really reads the long report?

The term “social reporter” was launched recently by David Wilcox and Bev Trayner. A few of the phrases they use to define social reporter:

  • “...someone (..) to find external resources, spot stories of interest to participants, look for common interests in profiles and make introductions, post items an help others to so, shoot video ... and so on. I think it's a mix of facilitation and journalism.”
  • “(someone) to develop conversations for collaboration.”
  • “focussed on challenging disempowering cultures, rather than re-inforcing them.”
  • “My starting point is the stories, or snippets of stories, that some people on the inside of the community want to catch about themselves - and then looking for ways to support and extend the ways they represent and talk about those stories. (....) it's the little incremental steps and modeling that changes a community's practice.”

Purposes of Social Reporting

  • Keeping a shared memory of “what happened” through more than one people doing it, often in quite random ways, and brought together by tags;
  • Using different types of media for reporting, each media type being accessible to different types of people with different purposes for “reading” the (social) report;
  • Extending the conversation beyond any one mode (such as face-to-face mode, telephone conference mode, lecture mode) making sure you include people who were not “there”.
  • Putting reporting in the hands of more and different types of people with access to different tools, technologies and approaches.
  • Modeling different ways of helping people to make sense of an occassion.
  • Shining a spotlight on periphery voices by looking out for and recording what they say.
  • Advocacy - raising awareness, highlighting good practice, having an impact in ways that incorporate a wider type of audience than just those who will plow their way through traditional written text.


Public/private technical and ethical issues surface as you do social reporting - you have to consider carefully what permissions you need (technically) and should get (ethically) for publishing images and words of other people.

More than Just Text

Bev Trayner: "Some of the characteristics of social reporting are that it’s informal, visual, and it doesn’t present itself as an accurate representation of the truth - but, rather, as perspectives from different places and angles. A social reporter needs to know how to use different tools and also where to store things like texts, video and audio files and the different levels of privacy for each one. The simpler and more elegant the final report the more work went into labeling, writing captions and descriptions, uploading, tagging, categorising, cross-referencing etc."
(Bev Trayner, in her blog which is no longer online, but the url was:




  • Do we need formal event reports? What do you think could be the advantage of a social report and its limitations?
  • What skills would we need to do social reporting?
  • Can you live with the never-finished, not-perfect written quality of a social report?

Image Source: Nancy White

Nancy's Social Reporting Story Tags

    Other related snippets:

    (nancy white on KM4dev thread, Oct 2008:)
    My approach these days is to
    • engage people in the reporting/conference capture process (see the delicious tag conferencecapture)
    • use text, graphic recording, audio, video and pictures
    • get them up online DURING the event
    • create a tag to identify the material across various media sharing platforms (youTube, Flickr, etc.) tag conference_capture: about life blogging, tagging, back channel use etc

    (Allison Hewlitt on KM4dev thread, Oct 2008:)
    we used mobiles to document much of the event. Here are some of the applications that we (both the documentation team and participants) played with:
    Flixwagon: (Almost) real time video streaming from your mobile
    Shozu: An application that allows you to upload photos to the internet from your mobile.
    Twitter: Messaging system used by participants following the event (both within and from the outside). We also used twitter at the end of the event when we asked small groups to prepare a message that would communicate what the event meant to them. We posted them on the big screen but also invited people to read them out loud.
    Confabb: A conferencing application that has an offline shared notes space. It was useful to organise information about the agenda and participants but the offline notes space didn't work as well as we expected. I think that the main reason was because participants didn't remember their usernames and passwords. In addition, I think that the application needs further development as it wasn't as intuitive as it could be to those new to the application.