Live-tweeting is a staple now at press conferences, lectures, or any event that presents information. In a world where everyone is a citizen journalist, this online “note taking” occurs at a rapid pace and is a great source of content for creating engagement on Twitter. People are tweeting quotes, facts, or any other takeaways they feel could be relevant to others.
Having covered many press conferences, industry gatherings, and even surgeries, I have learned that the most effective tweets are the ones I’ve prepared for in advance. To host an effective live-tweeting session, you have to be aware that you will be juggling a lot of information at once and you want things to run as smoothly as possible so that you do not lose momentum. Here are some tips for those just getting started.
- Prior to the event, make sure you select ONE person to cover social media. It has to be someone who you trust to send messages without prior approval or editing and works well on the fly.
- Pro tip: Having one person focus on social is the best way to make sure your messages are cohesive and fluid.
- Get there early. If you’re covering and event where media is present, it’s hard to compete for the best spot for photo ops. Although you don’t want to get in their way, you do want to make sure you can get what you need.
- Pro tip: Use a selfie stick (seriously); it’s useful to hover over larger cameras and even larger camera men!
- Be ready to handle technical difficulties. Batteries die, cell signals fade in and out, and Wi-Fi connections can go astray, and you don’t want to leave a hungry audience with dead air. Get a device juice pack and have another device ready with a different type of data connection.
- Pro tip: Email yourself all pertinent information about the event in advance. You never know when you’ll need to switch devices or hand off the responsibility to another person.
- If you are hosting the event, choose a hashtag and promote it so that the conversation can be followed and so that others can follow any side conversations occurring that are potentially supplementing your tweets.
- Pro tip: Splash your hashtag across all of your social media channels as you promote your live-tweeting (it can be promoted as an event within itself and caters specifically to your audience). The idea is that you want to get people used to using that hashtag so that it becomes part of their native language online.
- Pro tip: Use a hashtag on every single tweet. It keeps everyone in the same conversation and helps with archiving later.
- Pro-tip: Make sure that no one has used that hashtag before or that the conversation is relevant to your topic to avoid PR issues.
- There are a lot of moving parts happening at a press conferences, for example, and in most cases your team will be “all hands on deck,” leaving little support for one another for minute details. Prepare what you can in advance!
- Pro tip: Gather any video, charts, photos, or illustrations that you are not trying to take photos of at the event. The original file is cleaner and easier to read.
- Pro tip: Keep a working document open on your device (I tend to copy the press release into Notes on my iPhone). This will help you with name spellings, titles, and even complicated vocabulary or industry jargon.
- Pro tip: Use a link shortener to help keep your character count in check! This also gives you additional insight as to how your tweets are performing.
- Schedule what you can in advance with platforms like Hootsuite to give you a little more breathing room. If you know the event will be starting at a certain time, you could tweet a message reminding everyone to take a seat.
- Pro-tip: Scheduled tweets that thank the audience for following or link back to websites for more information to save time when the room is buzzing and it’s hard to focus!
- Good “sound bites” are really important. You want to make sure every tweet is stand-alone or else it’s not truly understandable to an outsider.
- Interact with event participants to stir up engagement. It usually helps those who are not actively participating get involved so you can get a better idea of how many are really listening.
- Pro tip: Follow speakers or influencers in advance to help build a following and promote the event.
- Pro tip: Unofficial hashtags will happen inadvertently; don’t be blind to them. Interact with these folks to reel the conversation into the official channel and help spread the message further.
- Immediately after the event, take a breath! Take a moment to make sure you’ve ended the event online politely (thank everyone for following).
- Pro tip: Create some type of follow up for those who could not attend. A blog post with embedded tweets (try Storify) is a great gesture and makes for additional rich content for your other social media channels.
For more best practices on live tweeting from Twitter, visit: https://media.twitter.com/best-practices.