Live from New York - It's Tweeting Done Right

Before I really started delving into the world of social media PR, I thought live tweeting was stupid. Who needs someone blowing up their news feed, talking about how “Ben is a total jerk for not giving Carly a rose” and how “#UglyAF Danielle’s dress is” on The Bachelorette?

However, that was before I had personally experienced, well-executed live tweeting. It was an experience that helped me understand the value of a tweet posted in real time.

I was at my friend’s house in California for New Year’s Eve 2016, and my beloved Washington Capitals were playing the at-the-time-dreaded New York Rangers (our true animosity for the Pens hadn’t fully formed yet, as 2016 would be the first year since 2009 that they knocked us out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs). My friend, like a lot of Californians I know, did not care about hockey and somehow didn’t even have NBCSN, so I was in the dark for a game I really wanted to watch. My only hope was Twitter – more specifically, @Capitals and @RMNB, who both live tweeted the game with such fervor and detail that I felt like I was at Madison Square Garden (ok, major exaggeration, but you get the picture).

We ended up winning the game – in OT, mind you (Ovie scores the #OTGWG) – and live tweeting ended up winning over my heart.

Social media has connected our world in a way that no other communications platform has done before. Twitter, in particular, can be highly effective at bringing people closer not only with each other, but to events.  

From a PR perspective, live tweeting, when done right, can be invaluable for increasing a client’s visibility and their ability to connect with their followers. It can be a powerful tool that brings customers closer to the center of the action, even if they cannot be there in person.

You’ll notice that I have emphasized “when done right” above – that’s because when live tweeting is done in the wrong situation or executed poorly, it can damage your client’s follower base and ruin all of the hard work your team has put towards establishing a thoughtful and informative Twitter presence.

So, when considering if and how you should be live tweeting, keep these tips in mind:

Pick the Right Event

When deciding if you should live tweet an event, consider the audience and the circumstances. Live tweeting from a tiny forum probably isn’t your best bet. First, most of your followers won’t understand the context of your tweets because they’re probably not attending. Second, smaller events most likely do not have specific hashtags or handles that users can follow and use to foster engagement with other attendees. Stick to larger events, such as major industry conferences or product launches, that can appeal to a broader audience and provide more content for you to leverage.

Develop a plan

Unless the event was sprung on you at the very last minute, you should always have a strategy and game plan established well before the event occurs. It doesn’t even have to be that thorough of a plan, but you do need to be considering the following factors when developing:

Are you going to be the only person live tweeting? 

Establish this ahead of time so that if there are multiple people involved (which I would avoid at all costs) you aren’t stepping on each other’s toes and confusing followers with a stream of tweets from two different contexts.

Which conference tracks should you focus on? 

Most conferences have multiple tracks, some more appropriate for live tweeting than others. Consider which presentations will be of the most value to your audience. Do the sessions address a problem that would resonate with your followers? I’m personally a fan of panels, where different people from various backgrounds provide perspectives on the topic. Live tweeting panels promotes thought leadership and helps prevent the tweets from sounding too self-serving.

If you’re not at the event, who is going to be sending the content, and how? 

Our clients can’t always send us to every event, especially when it’s international or they’re already paying thousands of dollars to send their internal team. And yet, we run and maintain many of our clients’ social media feeds, and keeping a consistent tone of voice may be important. If that’s the case, it’s important to decide beforehand how you are going to share information with us in real-time so we can tweet it out. Email is too slow for live tweeting. Instead, consider using Google Docs for written information, and texting for photos.

Gather information ahead of time

If you know which sessions you’ll be live tweeting, make sure you have your speakers’ Twitter handles ready! There is no reason you should miss out on sharing the perfect quote your spokesperson just stated because you’re frantically searching for their Twitter profile.

Beyond speaker accounts, there’s a lot more information you should collect ahead of time. This includes relevant event hashtags, presentation titles, booth numbers (if applicable), location of presentations (extremely critical for the large, convention-center-sized venues), descriptions of presentations, other company/speaker Twitter handles (for instance, if your client is on a panel or presenting with one of their own customers), and more.

Don’t overdo it.

Last tip, but perhaps the most important one to keep in mind. Live tweeting doesn’t mean you should be posting every word a person is saying in a presentation. It will not only annoy your followers, but you’ll also lose the bigger-picture message of what the presentation is all about. When I’m live tweeting a 30 minute session, I try and stick to two, maybe 3 quotes from the speaker, and if I feel it’s fitting, one wrap-up tweet that sums up the core message of the session.

I’ll also include pictures when I can. Visuals increase engagement and help foster a stronger sense of connectivity with the audience.

And if it’s a panel, don’t just focus on your client – share the love. There’s a reason those other experts are up on stage with your spokesperson, so engage with them and their companies by sharing their insights as well.

Ok I lied, I have one final tip: have fun! You’re live tweeting an event, not performing surgery. Yes, it’s work, but make the most out of this unique experience – listen to what the presenters have to say and just enjoy engaging with your audience and the rest of the Twitter world! When done right, live tweeting can almost be as rewarding as seeing the Capitals beat the Rangers in overtime.

Let’s talk.