When you have a big event coming up, a major part of the process is promotion. You’ve spent many hours doing multi-channel promotion and people seem genuinely excited about participating. How can you move beyond traditional modes of event coverage, like earned media, and generate additional buzz about your event?

A great way to channel that excitement is to live-tweet your event. If done correctly, live-tweeting is a great way for participants to engage, expanding your event’s reach and potentially you connecting with new customers and collaborators.

It’s also a useful way to garner immediate feedback on your event, and find out what worked well and what improvements you can make for next time. So how can you use the viral reach of Twitter to your advantage for your next event? Here are 7 steps to making your live-tweeting effort a success.

1. Select a hashtag for participants & share it early and often

You’ve likely seen Twitter’s hashtags: they look like #this. The trick to a good hashtag is twofold. Choose something that is easy for people to remember. Then keep it short so that users have plenty of room to tweet and retweet content related to your event, and include it within Twitter’s 140 character limit. Participants (and non-participants who are following the event) can put the hashtag in each of their comments about the event, making the stream easy to track on Twitter. Later, you’ll be able to search by the hashtag and track the entire conversation related to the event.

Once you’ve selected your hashtag, share it with your participants. Include the hashtag in all promotional materials, attendee packages, briefing packages to speakers, and be sure to mention it during the event itself a few times. The more often people see the hashtag, the more likely they are to use it. Mentioning it also serves as a good prompt for people to tweet about the event.

2. Install a program to make it easier to track Twitter activity

Consider installing a program like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to track conversations about your event. Even though you have instructed people to utilize a hashtag, there will be participants that forget. These programs allow you to add multiple columns with keywords related to the event, i.e. hashtag, full name of event, your name, abbreviated name of event, etc. and see when they are mentioned. This will be helpful both in tracking conversations about your event, as well as make it easier to engage and discuss the event.

3. Designate a Twitter monitor

If you are emceeing your event, you may not be able to spend your time following what folks are saying on Twitter. If you’re hosting a large event with a number of speakers or sessions, live-tweeting can be a full-time job. Have a designated colleague spend their time generating, tracking and responding to tweets prior to and during the event. This way you can respond to people in a timely fashion and put out any fires if necessary. Before the event, develop a list of key flags that need to be raised to your attention, such as any comments by key press or attendees or comments of a particularly negative nature. Otherwise, check in at predetermined times or look at the feedback afterwards to get a retrospective view of the event.

4. Engage

Live-tweeting will be much more effective if you (or a colleague) spends some time asking questions and interacting with participants who are posting about your event. If you see that a comment about the event has generated a lot of conversation or retweets, try to build on that momentum by posting a response or question related to that comment. This is a great way to keep the conversation going. If you have the staff available, consider having a designated person posting tweets throughout the event. Ideas for tweets might include specific logistics notes (X speaker just took the stage) or sharing quotes, insights, or key takeaways from various presentations. If materials related to the event, such as presentations, are available online be sure to tweet links to those as well.

5. Follow and thank new friends

Many times when you are live-tweeting, the conversation generates a variety of quality new connections on Twitter. You’ll discover a large number of like-minded people who are interested in the same things that you’re interested in. Take the time to follow any new followers back to keep those connections warm. Be sure to thank any new friends that follow you!

6. Post visual content

Visual content is a huge component in engaging with your audience online. People love to see pictures on social media. Take some photos of your speakers and participants, sessions and events and post them on your Twitter page. Also consider sharing selected content related graphics, such as a compelling slide or graphic. Event photos and other images are sure-fire retweets.

7. Don’t overthink it

Tweeting is supposed to provide a real-time means of communication. If you spend your time over-analyzing every tweet that you post, you are going to miss valuable opportunities. One of the biggest obstacles to success on Twitter is treating each tweet like an op-ed by committee. Live-tweeting isn’t about perfecting every tweet, it’s about connecting with new followers and customers in a different and organic way.

Live-tweeting adds a fun dynamic to events, and can be a great way to expand your event’s reach and make new connections a try. After the event, be sure to take a look at the activity that the campaign generated. This will help you refine your approach for future events, as well as give you important first-person feedback on your event. So give Twitter a try for your next event, and you may be surprised at just how well it works for your business!

Elizabeth

Liz Alton's experience in event planning runs from renting out entire South
American towns to planning intimate gatherings for heads of state.She's
particularly interested in the intersection of new technology and event
planning to make events successful, efficient, and fun. Liz is now a blogger, copywriter, and social media strategist based in Boston.

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