LiveTweeting Tips

With Social Media Week in full swing, I thought it might be good to share a few things I’ve learnt from LiveTweeting talks and conferences over the past few years. I’ve made these Twitter specific, because I believe whatever the relative merits of different social media platforms, none comes close to Twitter for covering live talk-based events.

1. Use The Hashtag
Every self respecting event these days will have a hashtag. Look out for the hashtag before the event starts and add it to every relevant tweet you send. Using the hashtag does at least three things. First, it raises the profile of the event (more on that later). Second, it puts your comments in front of other Twitter users at the event, people following from elsewhere (and if there’s a live tweet wall, in front of all attendees). Third, it makes people aware of your presence, even if they don’t follow you (which for me always leads to new followers).

Also, a lot of event organisers don’t really understand the dynamics of Twitter and use very long hashtags. This is cumbersome, slows users down, forces people to write shorter messages and increases the chances users will mistype the hash tag or simply not use it. Don’t be afraid to suggest a shorter hashtag to the organisers, preferably less than seven characters.

2. Take A Photo
If we are to believe the hype, every event is dynamic, well organised and packed to the rafters. But, LiveTweeting is popular because we want to decide for ourselves if the hype is merited.

A great way to help people evaluate an event is with a picture. With one photo you can show the kinds of people in attendance, the size of the audience and the mood of the event.

3. Tweet From A Search
Once you have the hashtag, do a search for it on Twitter. This will show you all the tweets from people using the hashtag. If you press the new tweet button from here Twitter will automatically drop the hashtag into the new tweet. And, if you use a Twitter client, like Hootsuite, adding a saved search for the Hashtag as a stream can help you track the event more quickly.

4. Be Generous
A common misunderstanding of social media involves treating it like a cheap form of self-promotion. But, unless you are already well known and have a large following (much larger than mine), then just blasting your tweets without interacting with other users might well turn out to be an exercise in futility, like shouting at the wind.

So, if you see a good comment or quote, retweet it, instead of saying the same thing yourself. Or, add a comment and include the other person. You’ll get noticed faster and earn far more goodwill this way.

I firmly believe the phrase, “a rising tide floats all boats,” is the best way to approach social media, especially Twitter.

5. Get It Right
If you are going to quote someone, then be precise. If you can’t get the quote down verbatim, then don’t use quotation marks, just write your impression. I’ve seen some credibility destroying situations when attendees react against a misquote, or misrepresentation of something that was said.

And, in a really dense presentation, you might want to take a photo of a slide full of facts, then come back to it later, to make sure you quote the right information.

6. Actually Participate
Don’t just tweet, listen. If LiveTweeting is getting in the way of actually paying attention to the event, then put your device down and engage. Readers what to share your experience, either because they want to compare it to their own, or because they can’t be there to experience it for themselves. But, if Twitter is getting in the way of actually feeling something, then your tweets will be the worse for it.

This might mean you tweet less or even wait till after the event to send your messages out. Besides, given how fast some laser-guided tweeters can type, you will probably never be the most prolific tweeter in the room, but you can still be the most interesting.

7. Create Drafts
Here’s a power user trick. Before the event, load up Twitter (on iOS) or your Twitter client (like Hootsuite) with a series of relevant draft tweets. That way, when you need to say something, you already have some thoughts written, or tweets half finished.

I use this in a few different ways. If I know a speaker is likely to drop some great quotes, then I will create a few drafts with the last part of the message already typed in, like the final quotation mark, their name (or Twitter account) and the event hashtag. That’s 25% of the work of a tweet already done.

And, if I know the topic (or speakers) well, then I might write a few questions, issues or provocations and save them in drafts. Then, it’s super quick to Tweet them, if they become relevant during the event.

8. Pick Your Audience
Who are you tweeting for? The people in the room, or the people outside it? If your focus is the people in the room, quoting something the speaker said is less important than commenting on it, challenging it, or asking others what they thought. But, if your focus is people outside the room, then you’ll need to put your comments in context and pick quotes that will make sense to people who are not hearing the whole presentation.

9. Thank The Organisers
OK, so the coffee sucks, the air-conditioning is too cold and the question time was too short. Big deal. If that’s all you have to say to the event organisers then don’t expect a lot of love in return.

Think about it, the organisers have spent weeks and months on this event and all you can say is the coffee wasn’t hot enough? Where do you expect the conversation to go from there?

Use your opportunity to address the organisers on social media and say something positive instead. Thank them for the event and mention something that inspired you. This helps them raise the profile of the event. You are almost guaranteed a rewteet or two and probably some new followers.

And, this is far more likely to yield a relationship with the organisers. In turn, this will help your chance to get on the inside for future events (where you can take control of the coffee for yourself if it’s that important to you).

10. Follow Up And Follow
Don’t stop tweeting or checking the hashtag the moment you walk out the door. The hour or so after an event finishes are sometimes the richest for comments, retweets and follow-up questions. It’s also a good time to thank people for sharing your tweets and following (and following back) people who engaged with the event.

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