10 Lessons from Twitter’s 4000-Employee Event

Skift Take

Twitter is hosting its internal employee event, #OneTeam. Attendees are tweeting every aspect of the event.

Here are the top takeaways to inspire your next event.

Diversity, sustainability, inclusion, collaboration.

2020 is the ‘Game On!’ year. It’s about going all-in and putting our event where our mouth is. It’s about transforming the buzzword into tangible, practical value.

Face to face is a powerful marketing tool. Our research says that events also help retain employees. In a job market peopled by millennials who thirst for meaningful work they can feel good about, these events are crucial for fostering the sense of community, shared values and inclusivity that keeps them happy and motivated.

But are we really doing all we can to take advantage?

All too often we see these words emerge at events only to get diluted by a lack of focus, a lack of commitment. Really, a lack of action.

Twitter’s OneTeam event in Houston, TX, is a huge, 4000-employee corporate event that follows suit. Through the tweets of its valued employees (Tweeps), we can see their commitment and their action.

The Mission

We reached out to a Twitter spokesperson asking for what role does the event play for the company and they shared:

Our Tweeps are in Houston this week to discuss our purpose and principles, and how we can best operate as one global team. By bringing our entire company together, we hope to continue building a diverse and global team with a shared vision of serving the public conversation.

Twitter Spokesperson

Looking at the event as it unfolds on Twitter, there is a lot we can learn about internal events of the future – a lot of which you should steal today.

Prioritize Diversity and Inclusion

How does a global company put diversity and inclusion front and center? That’s how. #OneTeam #UntilWeAllBelong

— James Loduca (@JamesLoduca) January 14, 2020

Twitter put its commitment to a diverse workforce front-and-centre on the stage. Showcasing a diverse cast of Tweeps is a good way to make people from every background and persuasion feel welcome.

Showing people that they are seen and valued makes a real impact, particularly for members of marginalized communities.

the gender-inclusive restrooms at the space center literally have me IN TEARS @ #OneTeam !!!! whoever was responsible for this give them my honest blessings for their family

— Danny McClanahan (the artwork) (@hipsterelectron) January 15, 2020

It’s how you engender loyalty and build motivation, not just among the members but their friends and allies within your workforce.

Select Impactful Presenters

Of course, it helps when you incorporate those people into the event itself. One of the best ways to select impactful speakers is to elevate people who represent a marginalized class and who can speak to your employee’s values with a unique perspective.

#OneTeam is especially near & dear to me. In 2018 I wasn’t a Tweep, but a speaker at the 1st #OneTeam. I spoke abt the power of marginalized communities on the platform & challenged Twitter to better connect w/ & serve those groups.They took me up on it & now I lead that work🙌🏽

— God-is Rivera (@GodisRivera) January 13, 2020

Use Tech Strategically

Speaking of unique perspectives, OneTeam featured the first ever live tweet from space!

even ASTRONAUTS know that Twitter is the best place for launch @Astro_TJ #OneTeam

— Jeff Zifrony (@jeff_zifrony) January 14, 2020

We know rationally that all our tweets are sent to space before they come back to rain down upon our followers, but this is still amazing. We have a direct line to people who are no longer on our planet thanks to tech – thanks to Twitter. Mind blown.

The lesson here is to use tech to create an impactful and transformative experience that reinforces the value of what you’re doing.

Twitter isn’t just reinforcing the value of what they’ve done at the event, but at the organization as a whole. As a Tweep, you can’t help but feel good about contributing to something like that. What a way to foster company loyalty and reduce turnover.

Select Meaningful Destinations

Houston’s Space Center offers a ready theme to any event, but the marriage between space exploration and technology makes it a natural fit for OneTeam.

Incorporating Houston’s outer space connection speaks to an important shift in destination selection criteria from beaches and ballrooms to a destination’s ability to align with the event mission and values. A destination’s unique culture, history, infrastructure and features can each play a role in delivering a value-laden, memorable and transformative experience.

But for many organizations and especially corporations, a city can be meaningful because of their impact on it, too.

As a social media brand, many of us interact with Twitter on a daily basis. It sounds corny, but it’s touched all of our lives in a very real sense.

One particularly important way Twitter does this is as a tool for disaster relief, allowing organizations at the scene of Hurricane Harvey to verify and disseminate crucial information quickly…

@leslieberland @Twitter was critical to us sourcing, verifying and sharing timely and accurate information, especially from @HoustonOEM, @SylvesterTurner and @SheriffEd_HCSO during #HurricaneHarvey. If you want to know how we used it, I mentioned it here:

— Grace Rodriguez (@gracerodriguez) January 14, 2020

… and allowing emergency victims to broadcast their locations.

Maritza and her kids were being saved because of this tweet. This is why we are here in Houston #oneteam #LoveWhereYouWork #WeServePublicConversation #purpose

— Navey Tang (@naveytang) January 14, 2020

By bringing Tweeps to Houston and showcasing the impact of their work on the lives of people who live there, OneTeam allows Tweeps to connect to a real sense of their own value as part of the organization.

Why do I (still 🙂) work @Twitter after 7.5 years (and counting)?

Not for food or “glamour” of working in tech. I’m here to make real world impact and help people. Thank you @SylvesterTurner & @RitzWillis for sharing your city and reminding us why this service matters. #OneTeam

— Bridget Coyne (@bcoyne) January 14, 2020

Leave the Destination Better than You Found It

As much as a destination has to offer an event by way of themes, settings, culture and infrastructure, events leave an indelible mark on destinations as well. They’re huge economic drivers, and the incentive to attract and support them can improve city infrastructure and services that benefit the communities that live there.

But meeting mechanics themselves support an organization’s CSR agenda, allowing local non-profits to get facetime with key corporate stakeholders in a central space within the non-profits’ home turf. This gives context to their causes and reduces their costs for the exchange.

Had an awesome time meeting the local nonprofits we’re working with in Houston! Shoutout to @KarlRobillard1, @londo_lee and @ElNicoSuave and everyone else for putting it together! #TwitterForGood #OneTeam

— Evan Sobkowicz (@evansobkowicz) January 14, 2020

Events also provide a unique opportunity for attendees to connect with and live an organization’s values through activities planned as part of the event or adjuncts to it.

Excited to have @Twitter in Houston supporting our community and @SM_Hostel Thank you @LaurenDevoll @KarlRobillard1 looking forward to Thursday! #TwitterForGood #oneteam2020 @VolunteerHou

— Mayda Salgado (@MaydaSalgado) January 14, 2020

The beneficiaries of Twitter’s CSR efforts appreciate it also.

We are so excited to have you @Twitter in Houston! The impact you are making in our community is HUGE! And we sincerely want to thank you for your generosity! 💝 #TwitterForGood #OneTeam @VolunteerHou

— Santa Maria Hostel (@SM_Hostel) January 15, 2020

Ensure Your Event Is Sustainable

Corporate social responsibility comes in many forms, and destination selection is also an important part of that; many destinations are known for their advances in sustainable infrastructure and venues. Waste management is also an important factor.

But flights are commonly regarded as the biggest climate culprit for events. Choosing a central location reduces the amount of CO2e emissions produced during travel to and from the event.

Houston is a central location for our people and we’re offsetting our carbon footprint. We’re taking a number of steps to make the event as green as possible including eliminating single-use plastic bottles, plastic straws & reducing swag.

— Leslie Berland (@leslieberland) January 13, 2020

Make Introverts Feel Welcome

While not normally a marginalized class, introverts are often at a disadvantage at long or highly social events. For them, it can be exhausting to spend the day interacting with people, especially professional peers.

This tweet is an example of how we should all look at introverts: as valuable colleagues and whole people who want to participate.

Dear introverted Tweeps attending #OneTeam, how can extroverted Tweeps be good socializing allies next week?

An extroverted Tweep who loves her coworkers but is already looking forward to alone time


— Jen Powers (@jenkpowers) January 9, 2020

Incorporate Human Moments

Expressing the desire to support one another is an essential part of recognizing each other’s humanity.

Workplaces and businesses are often compartmentalized spheres where people leave their personal lives at the door, and the effect is a risk of viewing people you work with instrumentally. This is especially problematic for decentralized or remote teams.

This can be particularly hard for leaders, whose day-to-day interactions with their colleagues are less with peers than with people who work under them. It’s hard to relate on a human level when the nature of the relationship is characterized by a continuous one-way evaluation.

But precisely because events are all about meeting face to face, they are perfect for helping colleagues get to know and relate to one another on a human level.

.@jack ‘s mom is one of my favorite parts of my TL. Wonderful to see you here in Houston @marciadorsey #OneTeam

— James Loduca (@JamesLoduca) January 14, 2020

Respect Health and Wellness

Of course, another important event trend in humanizing events is the incorporation of health and wellness activities, which becomes especially important at events where many participants have left their normal routines at home.

Planning for downtime that people can use to center themselves, get some exercise or take a break from the ‘always on’ is a good way to remind event goers that you recognize they’re people, too.

10 min meditation with @Jack In the first 30 min of the day…
1) Water w/lemon and salt
2) Sunshine
3) Get moving
4) Gratitude and
3) a WIN. #PrettyAwesome CEO #OneTeam

— Candi Castleberry (she/her) (@Candi) August 1, 2018

Let Attendees Become Protagonists

Apparently, during a session Q&A, Joe Purcell, a Twitter employee, became an instant meme after introducing himself and saying ‘I am Joe, I do Jira”. Within few moments #JiraJoe was born and trending. A spoof account was created and attendees lined up to take selfies with him.

The line to get a pic with #JIRAJoe was the most out of this world thing I saw at NASA

— Spread love (@MeMikeyB) January 15, 2020

Giving a mic to the audience and letting them express themselves can have unexpected, positive consequences for the actual event, taking a user-driven direction you may have not seen coming. For internal events, this is especially true. Employees become unexpected heroes.

In Conclusion

What would happen if all the attendees at your event would tweet? That’s a scenario we’ve been wondering about since 2009. Here is your answer, a celebration of tech driven engagement. Twitter does its events well obviously, but more than that events are made for Twitter.