People are finding really cool ways to use live-tweeting as a reporting tool. How often do you get to follow minute-by-minute updates of an open-heart surgery or a murder trial? But don’t panic: your event doesn’t have to be sensational for live-tweeting to be worthwhile. Live-tweeting is a great way to generate attention for a range of topics and issues. It also gives your audience an opportunity to participate interactively, whether they are attending the event or just following the updates on Twitter.
Below, I have outlined some tips for tweeters before, during, and after an event.
BEFORE THE EVENT
- Research Twitter handles.
Create a list of the event’s speakers, their affiliated organizations, and any event sponsors, and do a quick search to determine if they have Twitter handles. Keep this list handy on the day of the event so that you can quickly attribute quotes and other information.
- Designate a hashtag.
If you’re responsible for organizing the social media efforts at a particular event, it’s a good idea to come up with a single, event-related hashtag. The hashtag should be related to the event, but not so general that it is likely to be used by people who are not tweeting at and/or about the event. Keep in mind that all hashtags should be short and succinct; since the hashtag will appear in each of your tweets from the day of the event, you want to use as few of your precious 140 characters as possible!
- Get your hands on as much event material as possible.
Do you have access to the event’s agenda? Can you get a copy of the speaker’s presentation? The more you know about what is going to take place at an event, the better off you are to live-tweet it. There’s also nothing wrong with pre-writing some of your tweets, so long as you are posting them at the appropriate time (e.g. immediately after they are presented by a speaker) on the day of.
- Come prepared with the right technology.
In order to monitor multiple Twitter streams at once, such as keywords, retweets, and mentions, social media management systems like HootSuite and TweetDeck can be very helpful. If you plan on including photos and/or videos in your tweets, make sure to bring a device with a camera (content is easiest to upload directly to Twitter via a smartphone or iPad.)
- Let your audience know that you’ll be live-tweeting.
Failing to announce that you will be live-tweeting an event is like throwing a party and forgetting to send out invitations. Make sure your social media audiences know when you’ll be live-tweeting along with the hashtag that they can use to follow along.
DURING THE EVENT
- Find a spot close to the action.
Nothing is worse than trying to live-tweet an event from the back of crowded room with poor acoustics. Make a point of sitting up front so you can hear the speaker(s) clearly and see the presentation screen.
- Engage with others and retweet them frequently.
While composing tweets on the fly at an event can be overwhelming, it’s important to keep an eye on what other people are tweeting and engage with them regularly. The easiest way to do this is to monitor the event’s hashtag in a separate window/on another screen. If someone else caught a great quote or shared some valuable insight, by all means, retweet it.
- When it comes to tweet frequency, find a balance.
One of the biggest dilemmas of live-tweeting is deciding how often to post. Twitter’s developers say it best: “Approach [live-tweeting] like you’re at a dinner party: you don’t want to dominate the conversation and you don’t want to fade away.” The key is to capture the most significant information, quotes, and/or statistics, not provide a continuous transcript of the event. If many Tweeters are contributing to the conversation (or live-tweeting themselves) you should spend some time facilitating dialogue by asking questions and retweeting. If you realize that you’re the only one covering an event on Twitter, it’s a good idea to dial back on the frequency of your tweets so as not to flood the Twitterverse with content that is exclusively yours.
- Make sure that there is logic and flow to your tweets.
Before you push the “Tweet” button, ask yourself: would this tweet make sense to someone who has not followed my tweets from the beginning of the event? It is also very important to provide context to your tweets: if a new speaker is taking the stage or a different topic is about to be discussed, say so.
- Think about how you can incorporate outside content.
Keep the conversation rich by constantly thinking about things your audience might want to know. If the speaker is addressing a complex topic, why not refer your audience to a relevant source of information on their organization’s website? If the subject matter being discussed reminds you of a blog post your organization put out, share it! Be sure to keep a link shortener such as ow.ly or bitly close at hand for this purpose.
- Tweet more than just text.
If you have a camera phone or an iPad nearby, it’s a great idea to take a photo or short video to share with your audience.
AFTER THE EVENT
- Follow back.
A great way to expand your network on Twitter is to follow people who attend and/or tweet about your events.
- Be sure to acknowledge fellow tweeters.
If you’re tweeting on behalf of the event’s host organization, make sure to give people who tweeted about it a shout-out. (For example, Thanks to @abc, @def, & @ghi for coming out to our event on #xyz!)
Questions? Ask away in the comments.
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