Live Tweet EventsA 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

  • Allocate team members

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.

  • Equipment

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.

  • Software

This is another area where you have a myriad of choices: HootSuite, Sprout, 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 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.

  • Notes

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.

  • Data versus WiFi

WiFi is more reliable and faster, but not always accessible. Make sure you ask for passwords and test the connection beforehand.

  • Choose a hashtag

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

  • Introduction Tweets

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.

  • Quotes and Sound Bites

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.

  • ReTweets

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.

  • Engagement

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.

  • Panel Discussions

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.

Post Event

  • Closing Off

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.

  • Save the Tweets

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.

  • Statistics and Analysis

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

2 thoughts on “How to Live Tweet Events and Conferences

  1. Bianca,

    I hope the delay in this comment compared to the actual time of this post doesn’t set off spam alerts everywhere. 🙂

    An organization has inquired about hiring me to Live Tweet their conference later this year. I’ve been online for 3 hours trying to find the “going rate” for a service like this. I’ve got plenty of experience live tweeting for non-profit events and this post was super helpful in affirming the methods I’ve used. This is just the first time I could actually be paid for it.

    Can you point me to any resources that you’re aware of that can help my charge the correct rate for my time?

    Thanks so much!

  2. Hi Van,
    Sorry for the slow reply. I’m not sure if there are any resources and freelance rates for social media services vary dramatically.

    Do you currently freelance? I use my standard client rates for event social coverage, but those rates also vary according to the client relationship.

    If you want to chat specifics, feel free to email me at


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