February 13, 2013

Guidelines for live tweeting an event

The original Article was written by me on Social Samosa here

Live Tweeting an event? What’s the ‘BIG’ deal?
How many times have you or your team done this?
And how often have you asked this question to yourself?
“What guidelines do I follow exactly for Live Tweeting this event?”

One of the most important aspects I’ve  realized starting from 2010, till today is that there’s nothing that has  changed about the concept or for that matter the fundamental principles  of what the activity actually entails for a brand.
What has changed however is the approach of the consumers / attitude of thetwitter users to such activities or approaches by brands!

Why? Simple, Twitter and its audience  is evolving. And when that happens, no matter how concrete the  fundamentals are, it’s always beneficial to shift your approach, for  ‘The Times They are a changing…’

The first time I actually ‘live  tweeted’ an event was for one of my technology clients back in 2010. And  after that I’ve done a several dozen of them. And amazingly not a lot  has changed in the basic fundamentals, but there has been a lot of  learning on how people perceive these events and how  consumer behaviour has shifted trends and what you could exploit to  ensure the overall event is really meaningful for the brand rather than  just a stream of updates the hogging limelight on your followers  Timeline.

For most of the part, brands adopt a  very functional and as simple approach as ‘Get the updates of the event  out!’ To the people who couldn’t attend the event. So it shouldn’t be  ‘Rocket Science’ now should it?

But today if asked or given the assignment, I don’t/won’t just randomly decide to go for an event because:

“I’m the expert on A. Tweeting Fast B. Being Responsive C. Being good with use of technology…”

These are really not the reasons why a  specific person should go to ‘Live Tweet’ an event. What’s important is  we understand what this activity does for the brand and how will it add  value for the brand via Social Web and how it actually matters to its  audience and its consumers.

The reason I decided to write this post  is because, usually I’m the Go-To Guy for live tweeting events for  brands at work! And many a times, live tweeting associates itself with  loads of challenges, last minute problems and co-ordination with  clients.

So sharing my learning in a  comprehensive way for everyone to learn from it. Mostly my insights from  the mistakes I’ve made or the learning that I have acquired from live  tweeting events for various brands across different verticals.

So the first Question:Why to Live Tweet an Event?

Is this what you say to yourself

1. To ensure that #brandhashtag / #eventhashtag gets visibility across City, India, World?
2. To get more RTs, Mentions and Buzz across the twitterverse for your brand?
3. To ensure that brands start getting insights on what people are talking about the brand?

Here’s what I say


Cause before you think from a brands perspective, FIRST THINK OF YOUR CONSUMER!

What questions should you ask?
1. How does this help the brand in its overall communication strategy?
2. What is the value addition created by live tweeting this event?
3. Does it ensure live updates (with real insight) of the event go out to your twitter followers? (Not just who’s come on stage or who’s talking, but what do they really mean when they are saying this and that.)
4. Lastly how does it help your brand  in this age of ‘connection economy’ especially to take your brand  forward on building inbound rather than outbound connections?

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

What should I do to prepare for Live Tweeting the event?

So Live tweeting doesn’t start on the  day of the event! When you actually decide to figure out what the event  is going to be all about? Your ‘Live 
Tweeting’ starts right there.

1. Research about the event before Tweeting: 

This also means researching on what the  brand is all about. Who are is target audience? What exactly does the  brand aim to achieve through this event. You need to understand what  kind of audience the brand will attract and what kind of content and  tonality will appeal to those users / audience.
Essentially always good to have the  person who’s working on the brand to actually live tweet or if you are  going in for someone who’s privy to the platform, then it’s best if you  gave him/her a detailed brief about the brand and the event. Also ensure  that you create enough awareness before the event and people are  already aware of the event!

The content you’ve been posting about the event then should be consistent with what you’ll be posting at the event.

Key Points:
  • Read about the brand, Industry.
  • Identify Top Influencers, people related to the brand (If they’re on twitter)
  • Create list of people attending the event. (No need to follow them via the handle, add them to the list)
  • Know who the speakers at the event are and add them / follow them. Try to get their agenda.
  • Ensure that you know the venue, the people, the agenda and the background of the event!

2. Technology never fails! People and Processes Do!

A lot of times at such events, we end  up not providing the relevant coverage or the actual insightful and  value added tweets especially because we realize that there’s no/minimal  network coverage. (A lot of Hotels have jammers and your internet  dongles won’t work.)

They may ask you to buy their  exorbitantly priced Wi-Fi cards, for which you run around last minute  behind clients / events team or your own company’s finance team to get  cash voucher etc. approved. Some places don’t or may not have charging  points placed at the right places for you to settle down.
Cameras don’t work last minute or  batteries fail you. It’s like Mr. Murphy was just lurching around the  corner to get you. What you need to understand is that it’s not the  technology that’s failing you it’s just the people and the processes. So  be weary of that fact and prepare in advance

Key Points:
  • Ensure you have checked about the WiFi and sorted out that issue before hand.
  • As a backup try to get two dongles or an android phone with 3G to tether a Wifi Hotspot
  • Carry your cameras with extra batteries, memory card, card reader, USB cable etc.
  • In case you have an extra battery for your mobile phone it’s a bonus. Else carry your charger!
  • You can live tweet via mobile phones as well. Works best especially when/if your laptop dies.

3. #HashTags matter the most!

This one’s relatively simple and a lot  of you might already be doing this. But it’s imperative that you decide  what hashtag will suit your brands event and more importantly how easy  it is for users to add even if they want to manually. Don’t create overtly long hashtags that are just confusing or too drab for users to type in if they don’t  find it. A lot of them might be using mobile devices to tweet. So  realize how important the #hashtag is especially if they want to search for other conversations and interact with the users, including you.

Key Points:
  • Create a simple hashtag
  • Create a hashtag that is easy for your users to type manually
  • Create a hashtag that will elicit resonance and more shelf life in general.
  • Great idea to include a hashtag that’ll go with the event as well as specific issue / topic.

4. GIVE Insights on what the updates mean to your users:

It’s important to put thought into what  tweet goes out and how purposeful they are in the context of the event.  It’s very easy to just give updates on what’s happening live, like say a  commentary of things that are happening as we speak so to say. But  what’s more important is that how well it is impacting the resonance of the communication that the brand has to do with its users, for its users.

If I were to be at home and I realize  that the updates that are going out via brands are just ‘Things  Happening’ at the event then I’d really be put off! RT some interesting  tweets by others, give them the credit that they deserve. They’d feel  great about it too.

Key Points:
  • Don’t just live tweet what the speaker is doing / or talking about.
  • Talk about what his message is. Reach out to the people with the core message.

5. Most Important: Listen. Think. Converse

Many a times where you are at an event,  your first instinct is to BE FAST! TWEET IMMEDIATELY! But hey, resist  that urge! Its okay if your tweet doesn’t go out immediately after the  Speaker has quoted something. Hold off for a while. Listen to what  he/she’s actually trying to say. Understand the core message and then  think about how it could be creatively put across to make purposeful content for your users.

And also, try to figure out if anyone  else has already talked about it. Converse with them. Elicit an opinion  if possible. Stick to valuable messages and forget the unimportant  messages. You don’t need to spam your followers! If there are issues that people are talking about, talk to them, help them find a solution.

If you think you can go help them personally, go DO that! Imagine this; you being a brand evangelist are actually getting to help out via response got on twitter at the venue.

E.g. If people aren’t able to get WiFi,  See streaming of videos on the screen in a multi hall event etc. Get  the right people from your client end or your team to go help them out.  And then respond to them on twitter! This really creates value add to  the participating member who by the way also happen to be on twitter…  Very good if you interact with the attendees.

6. Google before you Tweet! (Stay away from the itchy trigger finger)

Again a syndrome caused by  hypochondriac behavior that kind of sets in to your mind; no matter how  many live tweeting events have you covered! 

Every tweet has to go out  NOW NOW NOW! This is what your mind keeps thinking. The best way to  approach it

A lot of times, you may miss out on speaker’s names. If its there on the brand website,  go there and refer to it. If you aren’t sure, of who he/she is or have  missed listening to the name being announced… ask someone nearby. And if  you find his name on the website, Google him up, most likely you’ll get  his images!

If he quotes something, use it. If you  aren’t sure what exactly it is, try to find out if it’s there on the  web? If you want to state some facts or some data that he/she is using,  then use Google before you tweet. Give the appropriate sources /  credits.

7. Photos are good! But it’s Live Tweeting & not Live Instagramming!

General tendencies as a beginner,  Twitpic every damn person, photo heck even what food is served at the  event or what the chairs or the set up looks like!!! Well, it is okay to  tweet the venue at the beginning (maybe to give an idea of what kind of  turn out does the event have) but it’s absolutely not OK to just about  include a photo in each and every tweet of yours. Be careful that you  don’t really make it a habit.

8. Look for Foursquare Check-Ins

Great way to respond to users on twitter who’ve checked in. Good way to start conversations with the people who’ve come  to attend. Of course it’s imperative that you go beyond just welcoming  them. It’s great if you continue the conversation thread as much as  possible. But most importantly make that connection with them. Let them  actually be dazzled, out of the blue especially after they’ve checked in and are caught unaware! WOW them!

9. Tweetdeck / - Tools that really help!

One of the key elements in this event is that there are a bunch of things you would have to keep a track of. For example

1. Search strings on what people are conversing.
2. Search for your brands @handle or @mentions essentially.
3. Search for relevant keywords that people are tweeting esp. where they may have forgotten to add hashtag.
4. List of people who already are attending the event.
5. List of your influencers who are from this field and probably are following the event.

It becomes easier if you use tools like  Tweetdeck or to track all these conversations and of course  interact / converse / RT them.

10. Post Event follow-up!

Ensure that your post event follow up  is good. In fact start thinking about the

Post event follow-up right at  the mid way through the event. Try to get insights / feedback from users  at the event or from your twitter. Some testimonials or feedback of  things that could have been better would be great value add for your  product / brand or the event itself.

It always helps to take a dipstick when  you’re half way through the event. If possible DM your new followers  who followed you at the event. See if you can get a sound byte or some  quotes from them about the event and what they liked / what could be  better.

Key Points
  • Summarize happenings of the event
  • Get quotes / bytes from event participants
  • Write a Blog summarizing and giving insights about the day that panned out!

Overall it is important that when you  look at live tweeting, you put yourself in the shoes of ‘Event  participant, Users who could not attend the event, or followers / people  who are your target audience and want more insights about the event /  brand. I’m sure there are few more pointers that some of you could share  based on your experiences too!

Do let me know what they are? Could be great to add them up as well! What say?

Srinivas has been a communications professional for over 10 years, and has been blogging since 2005. He has worked with the likes of Social Wavelength, now Mirum India, (A JWT Group Company) for four years and now Heads Learning and Development & Analytics at Social Kinnect: A Digital Marketing Agency in Mumbai. His passion for Advertising, Creativity, Social & Digital Marketing helps make a difference for the brands they work with. 

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