This week’s British Insurance Brokers’ Association conference may be the last of its kind, with the trade body announcing a proposed merger with the Institute of Insurance Brokers.
But for me it will be remembered as an event where the hashtag #biba2011 became the label that brought delegates together.
As a regular tweeter from the event myself, I was delighted to see how much banter and reportage flowed from delegate and media smartphones alike. As long as one’s device had enough charge, you could easily keep abreast of developments from the lecture theatres and exhibition hall simultaneously, whilst networking in person with the thousands of professionals at Manchester Central Exhibition Hall.
Admitedly there were still only a minority of individuals and corporate tweeters sharing their news, thoughts and opinions in 140 characters or less, but the discussion and intrigue amongst those yet to delve into online social networking was palpable.
Barely a moment went by when I wasn’t asked by someone to explain precisely what social media was adding to the mix at #biba2011 and I was happy to show them via tweetdeck or hootsuite just how busy the banter had become.
Every video posted by Insurance Times, Insurance Age or Post Magazine was tweeted and linked, while corporate accounts jostled for attention with their wizzy promos and Ipad2 giveaways.
Sure, the limelight is fleeting on social networks and very often much of what is said can be banal, self promotional or just dull. But for these two days there was a genuine sense that people were talking to each other and networking without the handshakes.
Online social networking is like a conference that goes on 24hours a day. When you are networking both physically and online, this makes the conference and exhibition scenario all the more powerful and I’m glad the insurance industry has begun to see the light.