Think back to the last business or networking event you attended. If it was in the last year or two, it’s very likely there was a social media element to the event.
As a social media manager, my job often involves managing the spontaneous and fun social media components of live events. These events can range from small and local business meetings to large-scale conferences with thousands of attendees.
If you’ve ever been part of the behind-the-scenes crew manning social media for a live event, you know that there’s a lot more to live tweeting than a cute hashtag and a few quippy comments. Using social media to properly engage with your audience and amplify your event requires a great deal of preparation, effort, and follow-up to succeed.
Follow these steps before, during, and after live tweeting your next event to make the most of your social media reach.
Before the Event
Create Your Hashtag
In order to gain a following for your live tweet, you need an easy to remember hashtag for attendees to use as they tweet and follow along with the social media conversation.
The name of the event or an abbreviation of the name followed by the year are standard. Some examples from big marketing conferences include #Inbound15, #SMXEast, and #SocialFresh.
Identify Speakers & Influencers
Panelists and keynote speakers should be booked well in advance of your event, giving you ample time to identify your speakers’ twitter handles for use during their talks. Do some research to find influencers or VIPs that will be in attendance so you can monitor and amplify their social content during the event.
In addition to keynote speakers, this may include community members, other industry influencers in attendance, and even your company’s CEO. Keep track of these individuals with a Twitter list or a simple Google Doc.
Create Content Templates (Written & Graphic)
Trust me, here. If you only do one thing to prepare for your live tweet, take the time to create content ahead of time that can be easily edited and shared live. Not only will this save you time and stress during the event—it will also increase the amount of content you can share, and diminish the likelihood of typos or other errors. Some content, such as tweets thanking sponsors and speakers, can even be scheduled ahead of time.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to create graphics to accompany your content. One of my favorite platforms, Canva, is great for creating social media graphics that are easily edited and downloadable right when I need them. I simply make the graphic and leave out a key piece of text (i.e. Congratulations ____ on winning the Business of the Year Award!) then input the last piece of info before tweeting the graphic during the live event.
Prep Your Technology
Unfortunately, the “everything that can go wrong will go wrong” principle very much applies to live tweeting events.
Technology is probably the most UNpredictable thing we deal with on a daily basis. Is the WiFi working? Does my phone have enough battery? Will I be able to find an outlet for my laptop? These hiccups are mildly annoying on any given day—but when you’re managing live social media for an event, they can truly ruin the show.
Do everything that you can ahead of your event to make sure you won’t have a technological #fail. If you are able to visit the event space, DO IT. Scope out the best spot to recharge your electronics and set up your workspace. Bring extra chargers, and don’t forget your favorite analog “devices”—a notebook and pen.
Don’t forget to let your social media audience know that you’ll be live tweeting, and invite them to participate along with you! If possible, include the event hashtag on invitations and promotional materials for the event, and set up live streams of tweets to encourage more participation during the event. You can even pin an event tweet to your Twitter profile as an extra reminder!
During the Event
There are many variables you need to account for when live tweeting an event. Finding the best angle for photos, a spot with nearby outlets, and a place where you can easily see who is coming and going will all make your life easier when showtime comes around. So, arrive early and save yourself the hassle of rushing to find a seat and set up equipment.
Double Check Your Tweets
When you’re tweeting a million times a minute (or so it seems!) during a live event, it can be easy to forget the little things. Spelling, punctuation, and most importantly, including your event’s hashtag, should be double checked before each and every publish. Your fingers may be flying, but sloppy execution does no favors for your brand.
Include Speakers’ Handles in Content
Remember that prep work you did in gathering the online profiles of all the speakers and panelists presenting at your event? Those efforts will quickly pay off when they are actually speaking, and you can easily tag them in your content.
Let your speakers know that they are special and that you value what they have to say by including their handles with quotes from them. This will help notify them of what you have posted and will hopefully encourage them to share your content.
Listen for “Tweetable” Moments
The purpose of live tweeting an event isn’t to transcribe everything that’s being said for your social media audience. Pay attention to the speakers and pull out tweetable quotes that are easily digested in 140 characters. You will know these when you hear them.
“Nobody likes smooth jazz enough to be on hold.” @jaybaer #socialfresh
— Social Fresh (@socialfresh) September 25, 2015
Monitor for Spam
It is an unfortunate reality that not everyone using your event hashtag will have good intentions. Sometimes events go off without a hitch—but occasionally spammers will attempt to take over your stream with negative or obscene content.
This is especially dangerous if you are live-streaming your tweets at the event with Tweetwall or LiveTweetApp. Yes, your great content is available on a big screen for all attendees to see—but so is spam, whether you like it or not. Keep an eye on your hashtag throughout the event and remove spam from the feed ASAP to keep it out of your live stream.
Interact and Engage With Your Audience
The best part of live tweeting an event is seeing all the tweets roll in from your audience. Having an engaged audience makes a huge difference to your social reach, so be sure to reward those participants with favorites, retweets, and replies! Comment on thoughtful posts and thank your followers for sharing their ideas. Sharing the best content from your audience will also help to fill in gaps in presentations that you might not have been able to capture.
When your event is over, take some time to curate the best content that was shared—both by you and by your engaged social audience. My favorite platform for this is Storify, which allows you to search by hashtag and create a chronological display of all content throughout a certain period of time. It’s a great visual representation of your social media conversations.
Show Your Work
Demonstrate the power of your live tweeting efforts by pulling a report of your hashtag’s statistics. You can use a product like Hashtracking or the reporting tools in social media dashboards like Sprout Social and Hootsuite.
Continue Engaging With Your Audience
Just because your event is over doesn’t mean that you should stop monitoring your hashtag for content. Obviously, your event was SO AWESOME that your audience will be tweeting about it for months to come, right? Make sure to keep engaging with them to gain valuable feedback and insights regarding their event experience.
Do you have experience live tweeting on behalf of a client? Or have you attended an event that had a live tweeting element you particularly enjoyed? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts with us below, or tweet us @dontpanicmgmt!
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A lover of to-do lists and itineraries who sees every tightly-packed schedule as an exciting game of calendar Tetris, Shannon loves all things organizing. If it can be color-coded, alphabetized, or formatted in a pleasing design, all the better. With a background running the gamut from office management to marketing to media management and talent representation, she's not afraid of deadlines or seemingly impossible tasks. A self-confessed workaholic, Shannon thrives on learning new technology, programs, and skills. When not making her clients' lives more efficient, you can normally find her enjoying time with her son, buried in a book, writing her own, trying to keep up with crazy pets, baking, or dreaming of moving her home office to an ocean view.
Work superpower: Proofreading. If there's a typo or formatting error to be found, I'll find it.
Favorite cheese: Smoked cheddar
Go-to karaoke song: I don't do karaoke, and the world thanks me
Beverage of choice: Fiji water or caffeine-free Diet Dr. Pepper
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