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Live tweeting at events: seven tips for avoiding the pitfalls

28 September 2018

It’s a marketing must at events and conferences. But live tweeting can feel a bit stressful, especially when you’re new to it. Here are some tips to help you gather the best in tweetable takeaways, share them successfully – and avoid any clangers.

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare

When you’re working in real time, you won’t have long for research or fact checking, let alone pondering every word or crafting the perfect phrase. But you’ll still need every tweet to be smart, useful and, without exception, accurate.

So prepare a cheat sheet you can cut and paste from. Include some opening and closing tweets, key phrases, and facts and stats. Look at examples of other organisations’ live tweeting to get a sense of what works well. You might have spotted CharityComms members live tweeting from its conferences.

2. Get to know your audience before you go

Check out the social accounts of some of your event attendees. See who you might want to engage with and try to get follow-backs. Look at the issues they’re discussing to get a sense of what they care about. Let all your followers know in advance that you’ll be live tweeting the event and if they get involved on the day, remember to name check and retweet them.

3. Bring the right equipment

Creating content eats phone battery, so come fully charged with a portable power pack. Bring your laptop and charger, if possible, and consider a dongle in case the wifi is sketchy. If you get a chance to visit the venue first, check the light in the room and take some test photos and film. An under exposed shot of an illegible PowerPoint screen has very limited appeal.

4. Double check the obvious stuff

If there are people speaking or performing at your event, you’ll probably have complied a list of their Twitter handles. But have you double checked them? Remember when Donald Trump tweeted the wrong Theresa May?

If you have different Twitter accounts for work and personal, make sure you’re logged into the right one. Sounds obvious, but it’s an easy mistake to make. And getting it wrong can cause serious blushes. Oh, and double check you’re using the right hashtag while you’re there.

5. Find a balance between creating and engaging

Don’t just transcribe the event. Each tweet needs to offer something useful, depending on your objectives. Are you crafting content for people who aren’t there? Or are you creating a buzz around the event for influencers? Consider posting photos and videos. If appropriate, share from behind the scenes. Vox pops and Twitter polls go down well too. As well as tweeting about what you’re seeing and hearing, you’ll need to leave time to get involved in conversations. Answer questions, ask questions, and reply to comments.

That’s a lot to do. So ask a colleague to be on standby to help deal with any urgent issues or negative feedback that needs a considered response. That way you won’t have to take your eye off the action. Think about everything else that needs doing that day and make sure you’ve distributed the work. Perhaps your colleagues could take care of your other channels, like Facebook and Instagram, so they’re not neglected?

6. Don’t waste your work

There’s no need to abandon your content when the event is over. Compile your tweets with Twitter Moments or Wakelet. And create a blog post or two about what you’ve seen, learned or achieved. It’ll help you reach an even wider audience as you raise awareness, share your organisation’s expertise or promote your upcoming events.

7. Create your own live tweet checklist

When you’re busy with lots of tasks, it can be easy to forget things. Here’s a quick checklist to get you started – you can adapt it for your own event.

Before you go, make sure you:

  •  Are clear about your objective for the event
  • Know what you’re expected to tweet, and what not to tweet
  • Know exactly where you’re going and have planned how you’ll get there
  • Have checked out the venue if possible
  • Have organised an “in case of comms emergency” buddy to help on the day.

Remember to take:

  • A list of @ handles, hashtags, key contributors and influencers (double check you have the right ones and they’re spelt correctly)
  • Pre-drafted content, including stats and related articles to share in real time
  • Batteries, chargers, cases and any other gear you need.

On the day, make sure you:

  • Take photos and videos wherever it’s appropriate
  • Proofread every tweet
  • Keep an eye on the hashtag and get involved in the conversations
  • Remember it’s quality not quantity – make all your tweets relative and interesting for your target audience.

Banner Image: Ravi Sharma on Unsplash
Image: Tumblr

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Sarah Myers

copywriter and editor, freelance

Sarah Myers is a copywriter, editorial consultant and creative manager, with more than 20 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector. She has worked in-house for Mencap and Macmillan Cancer Support, and at a charity copywriting agency. Now freelance, her clients include an extensive range of charities, professional bodies and specialist agencies. Her guide to Storytelling for Impact was published by the Directory of Social Change in 2022.