Live-tweeting is a new phenomenon that blends audience participation with live micro journalism. Tweeting from an event involves being physically there or watching the stream online so you can bring your audience the most important news and insights. It’s immersive, educative and extremely engaging.
Lance Ulanoff, chief corresponded of Mashable, who amassed almost 70.000 followers via live-tweeting, described this phenomenon as “a new form of real-time journalism, a sort of mashup of sportscaster narration and immediate analysis.”
In the context of conferences, live-tweeting is gradually penetrating the events industry but its importance for personal as well as corporate branding is massively underestimated. It’s still a greenfield with a very few active players. It thus represents a unique opportunity to boost your (personal) brand awareness in the industry.
Let me share with you my experience with live-tweeting and best practices from World Education Congress (WEC) in Minneapolis — the large event that brought together over 2000 meeting professionals.
At WEC 14 (and I believe that this is general at any other live conference), live-tweeting allowed me to:
1. Capture the best content
2. Provide real-time feedback
3. Build strong relationships
I also advise you to check out Liz King’s article on how to set up your social media goals when attending a conference.
Now, let’s focus on the practical side of live-tweeting.
WEC14 was pretty overwhelming with all its concurrently running sessions. Doing some research about the sessions you plan to attend at the conference is crucial. Choose the sessions that are not only of interest to you but also cover some current hot topics (e.g. audience engagement, wearable technology). They might have a greater potential to generate tweetable and sharable content.
Extra tip: Learn who the presenters and speakers are and find their handles before the event so you don’t need to search for them when the session is in full swing and you should be tweeting like crazy.
Unfortunately, when you attend a conference abroad, in most cases, you need to fully rely on the wifi provided by the venue. When hundreds of delegates connect at the same time, the internet connection quality drops. This was also the case at WEC14. The partial remedy is to find the spot closer to the router to ensure that you will be able to tweet at all. Using mobile data is indeed the safest way to go around this issue.
Each day at WEC14 was long, starting at 9:00 am ending sometimes at 8:00pm. Your iPhone, iPad or laptop won’t last that long. I plugged in my devices every time I saw a conveniently located socket to avoid running out of the battery later on. I also had a power bank (external battery) for my iPhone and used it when I got down to alarming 20-10% of battery to recharge my phone. It was priceless and saved me basically each day.
Your tweets need to be short (leave room for retweets and additional comments by your followers), accurate and most importantly they need to include the right hashtags. Open a file in your notepad and put there all the hashtags and Twitter handles so you can just copy them quickly into your tweets. It saves lots of time.
Ulanoff says: “One trick to being first is to pre-build tweets.” Once you’ve done your research on sessions and keynotes, try to pre-write tweets based on the summaries provided by presenters. Take it a step further and dig out some additional content and insights that are relevant to the topic and speakers. By tweeting these unique insights, you increase your chances of getting retweeted and boosting your social footprint.
We’re getting more and more visual. Therefore try to send tweets with attached pictures! You won’t be only able to capture longer quotes and models accurately but you’ll also increase engagement and virality of your tweets as people love seeing interesting pictures in their streams.
Live-tweeting is demanding when it comes to technical devices. I needed to juggle with my camera, iPhone, laptop and a traditional paper notepad with pen all days long.
If you’re not a skilled typist (like I’m not), use a traditional notepad to jot down the notes. Especially, when tweeting from iPhone, it takes some time to compose the tweet on the small screen. While speed is super important, being able to capture longer notes or the bulk of tips that no one else can, gives you a great advantage for tweeting unique content. So don’t be embarrassed to go analog.
If you’re not a skilled typist, use a traditional notepad to jot down the notes.
This one is tough. You should think in advance what visual content you want to capture and how. What is the best spot for a shot that no one else would have? Is it a close-up on speakers or a general view on the entire room? Am I in the right angle to get that shot? Aren’t there any obstacles?
Personally, I love photography and while iPhone is a super handy device for capturing candid moments, the quality of pictures drops significantly when shooting in low-light conditions (which most sessions are usually held in). I always carry around a compact camera Sony RX-100 to get crisp pictures.
Extra tip: Twitter now allows you to include up to 4 pictures in one tweet. That’s a great opportunity for instant photo journalism.
Speakers and presenters crave for feedback. Unfortunately that is often given to them much later once the official feedback is evaluated after the event. And that’s a better case. Tweeting allows you to give them instant feedback right after the session. It’s not only valuable to presenters, it also helps you to create bonding with them. Make sure you include the right Twitter handles.
If you want live-tweeting to preset the ground for networking, you need to tweet consistently to appear in the tweet feed so people remember your face. That requires stamina and dedication. I was amazed by dedication of @ and @ who were the most prolific Twitter users at WEC14. They managed to tweet large amount of valuable content throughout the entire 3-day conference and became Twitter and social stars that everyone wanted to meet.
Finally, taking pictures (and selfies) with other delegates helps you bookmark those moments spent together and build stronger relationships. As Julia Hartz, president of Eventbrite said: “Selfie is a new autograph.” And it truly work! People love being in the limelight, even when it’s only a tweet feed. Remember that what truly matters is not what you said but how you made the other person feel when you were around.
What is your experience with live-tweeting at conferences? What does it bring to you? Do you find it beneficial for your networking? Please share with us your experience in the comments below or tweet to us @slidoapp.