A new, but essential part of any event communications plan is Twitter. Not just in the lead-up, but during the event.
But how do you live tweet events?
It takes time and planning. These tips should help.
Before the event
I recommend having at least one dedicated person per session. Two if it’s a panel discussion or important keynote. Panels are tricky because the conversation isn’t linear and it can be hard to work out who said what. Also, keeping attention on the speakers and the concurrent conversation is exhausting. Don’t under-estimate it and allocate the person multiple tasks. Believe me, I’ve tried.
This is where people have differing opinions. I prefer using a laptop, but there are pros and cons for each option. A laptop allows me to jump between screens and applications easily. Its keyboard is also easiest to type fast on. However, if there’s no wifi, I can’t switch to mobile data.
Tablets and smart phones have the advantages of data and being compact. I’ll often use these when I’m tweeting as an audience member. They just aren’t as nimble and it’s more difficult to access any notes etc that you’ve pre-written. More on those below.
No matter which way you go, don’t forget to fully charge it AND bring any power cables with you.
This is another area where you have a myriad of choices: HootSuite, Sprout Social, Twitter.com, TweetDeck (for desktop), and more. I’ve found HootSuite and TweetDeck best for live tweeting for their layout. Multiple, customizable streams on one screen makes it easy to see what’s going on and plan your tweets. TweetDeck uses bit.ly for links, so stats record into Sprout Social, which I use the rest of the time. It also have a new live update feature; it’s good to get the information quickly, but a bit dizzying.
Preparing notes before the event will make your day so much easier. In a word doc note down all the speaker names, bios, Twitter handles etc. If you can get their presentations, do it! You can pre-write tweets and include any links the speaker may reference during their presentation. It’ll save you time and make your tweets more shareable. Doing all this in Word means you can copy and paste quickly. Others will be tweeting too. To get the best result, you need to be first and accurate.
WiFi is more reliable and faster, but not always accessible. Make sure you ask for passwords and test the connection beforehand.
Decide on the hashtag before the event and publicize it. The hashtag should be unique and descriptive – don’t forget people outside the event will see it and may join in. Search the hashtag to ensure no-one else is using it.
During the Event
Don’t forget to start off by introducing the event, announcing the hashtag and thanking any sponsors. Letting your followers know that you’ll be tweeting about the event will minimize their annoyance if they’re not attending.
Only tweet quotes that your followers will find interesting. This will maximize retweets and engagement. Attribute quotes, where possible, using the person’s Twitter handle. That’s where the notes come in. Think like a journalist when choosing quotes. If it would make a great headline, it’ll make a great tweet.
If an attendee tweets a quote that you missed, retweet it. You won’t catch everything, so they can fill the gaps. Also, they’ll get a kick from you giving them kudos.
If you can, interact with the audience. There’s a lot going on, so ask questions during the speaker change overs or during meal breaks. Favorite takeaway tip and best speaker are good things to ask.
There is no amount of preparation to make this easy. Even having the questions beforehand won’t work. The conversation will be wibbly-wobbly, people will speak over each other, and you’ll be listening for the next sound bite while you’re tweeting the last so attribution is tricky. Mistakes will happen. Don’t stress about them at the time, and sent corrections and apologies immediately after the event or discussion.
At the end of the event, tweet thank yous to speakers, attendees, participants and sponsors. Invite everyone to keep the conversation going via the hashtag.
Tweets have a short lifespan, so export them immediately. Your Twitter app should have an export function. An Excel file makes it easier to search and analyse them.
Your Twitter app may be able to do this, or you can manually analyse the tweets in Excel. If you’re using Excel, the sort and filter functions are brilliant. Pivot tables will be tricky because you’re only counting snippets within the tweets, not the entire cell.
Useful things to count are the number of total tweets, number of tweets by you, number of tweets by audience members, number of retweets, number of mentions, number of times the hashtag was used, number of likes, and the number of unique users participating. You could take it further and add number of clicks or sentiment, but all of this takes time and some analyses take more time than you get benefit.
- Tactics Review and Lessons Learned
Think over what you did and how you would change it for next time. It could be to have a back-up person to cover breaks or to have a second person help during a panel discussion. Chat to your colleagues and trusted audiences members for their thoughts.
Would you add anything else? Please share in the comments.
Photo Credit: IABC/Seattle