Whether you are hosting an event like a fund-raiser, televised program, conference or, in my case, the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony, Twitter can help you to expand the event’s reach, grow your brand’s audience and connect with potential collaborators, partners, and influencers.
One effective technique is to take advantage of Twitter’s viral power during an event— your own or someone else’s. Here’s a quick guide on how to most effectively take advantage of a moment by live-tweeting a big event.
Choose a hashtag
Picking the right hashtag is a great way to reach more readers and make your tweets a part of a larger conversation. The purpose of a hashtag that’s associated with an event is to enable those at the event (and sometimes those who couldn’t make it in person) to connect to one another and share their thoughts and experiences as they follow along. The hashtag has become so ubiquitous that it has now become odd not to have one.
We started #RockCenterXMAS a long time ago in conjunction with NBC. It took a little while for people to catch on, but with proper marketing and support from influencers, this hashtag has trended on Twitter for the last two years during the annual Tree Lighting event. This year, the performers along with other celebrities and influencers started to use the hashtag as well. It has become somewhat of an instinct as soon as the Tree arrives on the Plaza each year.
To learn more about picking the perfect hashtag for your event, check out my other blog article here.
Prepare your followers for the upcoming influx of tweets
Know your audience: How many tweets are too many tweets? It’s easy to assume that every single person is going to be absolutely fascinated by your live tweeting, but that’s not always the case. Avoid irritating (and consequently losing) your followers by giving them a heads-up that there will be a lot of tweets about a particular event at this time on this date. Additionally, if you want to assure the biggest possible audience for your Tweets and it’s the type of event that others can attend or watch, this also lets your audience know about the upcoming event in case they are interested in following along as you live tweet.
Run of show and pre-written content
If you already know who will be speaking or performing at your event, why not create some nonspecific introductory tweets that can be sent when needed? This will save you precious seconds that could be otherwise spent listening to what’s going on. A few seconds might not seem like much, but on social media it’s a lifetime. Create a stockpile of tweets for things like opening of the event, introductions, break announcements, and closing tweets. If you are lucky enough to receive a run of show prior to the event, try and create as much useful content as you can.
This year’s Tree Lighting event wasn’t as organized as past years’ and the run of show kept changing up until the very last minute. It’s important to be prepared for moments such as these. Have a copywriter onsite who you know and trust and who knows the voice of the brand like the back of his or her hand. Speed and creative balance are key abilities that one needs to have when in the rush of the moment.
Pay attention, check your facts
Before hitting “tweet,” take a brief step back to double-check your spelling, grammar, and that the information you’re about to publish is correct. Remember, even if you have a run of show, you have to plan for the unexpected. You never know when an act may change last minute or something bigger may interrupt the event all together.
Quick tip: Prior to the event, make sure to have a list of all event participants’ and influencers’ correct Twitter handles as well as additional information regarding what they are known for. This can help your copywriter write more interesting and informed content that may encourage an influenced retweet or mention back.
Use rich media
Photography is key. Show, don’t tell. Tweets with images are 94% more likely to be retweeted, so it’s more likely that if you’re using rich media in your live tweeting, people will notice you and share your insightful or entertaining content. For example, posting content referencing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” will always gather attention but when you add an image of Mariah live and front and center, it will have a much bigger impact, as it is more engaging then a text-only piece of content.
Assign different people to different tasks
Once your event finally gets going, a ton will be happening at once, and everybody on your team will be running around plugging holes. Expecting several people to straddle their main jobs with live-tweeting the event, social media monitoring, engaging, and publishing is not a strategic approach. Instead, assign 1-2 people to be in charge of live-tweeting the entire event and 1-2 people offsite in charge of monitoring the account and engaging with users who are participating in the conversation.
Interact with your Twitter audience
Interacting with your Twitter audience during the event is key. Make sure the 1-2 people offsite are keeping track of the official hashtag as well as unofficial hashtags that may have popped up. You won’t be able to see every single tweet, but look out for questions you can answer, positive comments you can respond to (or favorite, or retweet), and negative feedback you can address. Monitoring all these tweets can get just as overwhelming as live tweeting the event, which is why it’s not just about monitoring—it’s about monitoring the right conversations.
Quick tip: My favorite real-time Twitter monitoring tool is TweetDeck. TweetDeck is a great platform to organize and build custom timelines and keep track of lists, searches, activity, and more—all in one interface.
Expect technical difficulties and have a backup plan
If your phone dies mid-tweet, what are you going to do? Make sure you’re fully charged, carry your phone charger around with you, and keep a laptop or iPad handy as backup. If you’re concerned about battery life and your ability to charge on the go, invest in a Mophie battery case.
While wi-fi is ever-present in most buildings nowadays, it never hurts to be safe rather than sorry. If there is a wi-fi connection, chances are that you’ll be fighting with your own guests for bandwidth. Bring along a wi-fi card if you can. As a backup, make sure you are in contact with your offsite team and that they have all pre-written content handy. Worst-case scenario, if you’re lucky and the event is being broadcast on live TV, they can work together to live tweet the event and interact with the audience from wherever they are.
Last but not least, depending on location, be sure to dress properly. During the Tree Lighting, standing on the ice rink can potentially cause frostbite. You may need gloves in the winter but considering how mittens might inhibit your typing skills, cold fingers are a sacrifice one needs to make to tweet successfully. Is it hot where you are? Bring a change of clothes and some liquids to keep hydrated (preferably non-alcoholic).
What other live-tweeting tips do you have? Share in the comments below!