Live-tweeting an event—whether a small tech panel, plenary speech or cultural event like a TV award show—will enhance the event experience via the following three reasons:
- A live-event hashtag creates a documented stream of event highlights that anyone can access, anytime, during or after the event.
- The hashtag stream provides an extra element (and hopefully extra insight) to the event; it’s the online compliment to the in-person event.
- Live-tweeting can boost Twitter notoriety, increase follower count, and facilitate connections between like users with similar interests. Plus it’s fun!
Before the event, do your research. Who are the speakers? Do the panelists have active handles? Is there more than one event hashtag? To save some time, make a Twitter list of attendees and draft pre-event and post-event tweets to send out during quieter times. The more prepared you are for your live-tweeting event, the more successful your published content will be.
Once you’re in, go with the flow. Be easy, casual. Stay engaged with the conversation and once something catches your attention—start talking (er, tweeting). Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face at a cocktail party. And don’t forget to include you’re the event hashtag in all tweets!
To help you stand out from the crowd, here are five types of tweets to employ while live-tweeting an event. Ideally you’ll want a good mix of these, along with replies, @mentions and compelling retweets.
This is the most obvious kind of tweet and makes up the bulk of any live-event stream. A summary tweet captures the obvious quote or action during an event. To make these simple tweets shine, think of your summary tweets as sound bites. Post quotes (and don’t forget to attribute them properly!) that you’d want embroidered on a pillow.
Prove your handle is truly leading a topical conversation within a live-event feed by providing outside reference and context. Point to relevant content on your blog, or top-tier articles that explain and supplement the events’ topics. This may require research or quick knowledge of where to snag good articles, but contextual tweets can provide your followers (especially the ones not in attendance) with more knowledge on a particular topic.
Comic Relief Tweet
It’s always nice to lighten up a room of super serious folks. Sending out a few funny or quirky tweets can do a lot to break up the monotony. But beware, know your audience so you don’t step on toes. The best way to ensure you’re on the right track is to have someone look over your shoulder before hitting send. Make sure another person gets your silly sense of humor before you let it loose. Also, gentle self-deprecating humor is a safe way to get some harm-free laughs.
Many tweets within a live-event feed will be factual statements. Shake it up and ask a broad, open question. Sometimes a speaker or event host will ask the audience to use Twitter as a Q&A forum, and solicit direct questions via the platform. Even if this isn’t the case, questions to the broader audience are always welcome. Questions have the ability to safely express alternative views or posture a new direction for the event to take.
These usually offer the most engagement and conversation. If you can capture a quality moment, offer a new insight or fresh perspective, AND tie together themes or facts from the event, all within 140 characters or less… you’re doing it right. Synthesis tweets are often the kind that stand out in the stream and leave event goers with a greater understanding of the topic at hand. They illuminate quality concepts while being mixed with an outside perspective, thus pushing the conversation further than the event at hand.
Interested in more ways to live-tweet? Here are a few famous examples of how to leverage Twitter in real-time:
- Sara Williams (Twitter co-founder Evan Williams’ wife) live-tweeted her first labor back in 2009.
- A man live-tweeted the raid on Osama bin Laden in 2011, without actually knowing it.
- A man live-tweeted a ridiculous confrontation with a co-passenger on his flight—“The woman in #7A”—in 2013.
- Ellen DeGenerous broke Twitter while live-tweeting the 2014 Oscars, which she was hosting.
Maureen Walsh (@MeMyMo) is on Spark’s social media and digital team who loves live-tweeting, San Francisco living, baseball watching, bread baking and all things internet related.