Lance Ulanoff, chief corresponded of Mashable, who amassed almost 70.000 followers via live tweeting, described a live-tweeting 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 represents a unique opportunity to boost your personal brand as well as build up brand awareness of the company you represent.
Let me share my experience with live tweeting and best practices from the 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 valid for any other live conference), live tweeting allowed me to:
- Capture the best content
- Provide real-time feedback
- Build strong relationships
Now, let’s focus on the practical tips of live-tweeting.
Do your homework
WEC14 was pretty overwhelming with all its concurrently running sessions. Doing some research about the sessions you plan to attend 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: Find speakers’ Twitter handles before the event so you don’t need to search for them when the session is already a full swing.
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.
Have a battery backup
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.
Each tweet should be a gem
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.
Use pictures for more engagement
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.
Juggle with your devices
Live-tweeting is demanding when it comes to technical devices. I needed to juggle with my camera, iPhone, laptop and a traditional paper notepad 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.
Find the right photo angle
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 panoramic view of 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 long 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.
Endorse your networking
If you want the live-tweeting to increase your networking opportunities, you need to post consistently to appear in the tweet feed so people remember your face. That requires stamina and dedication. I was amazed by the dedication of @ and @ who were the most prolific Twitter users at WEC14. They managed to tweet a large amount of valuable content throughout the entire 3-day conference and became Twitter and social stars that everyone wanted to meet.
Build stronger relationships
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 works! 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.
Cover Photo: CC 2.0, Elijah van der Giessen, Flickr