Tweeting Live 101:  12 Twitter Tips for Covering Events

Tweeting LiveIt starts with a hashtag.

Every trade conference and event has one these days.

Then the attendees pour in armed with smartphones and iPads, eager to start giving a social media play-by-play for all those who can’t physically be there.

It’s tantamount to being a television journalist reporting live from the scene of a story. I know. I used to be one.  Like TV reporting, you have to gather the facts of the who, the what, the how, get quotes and then tell the story in a compelling and interesting way – often while the story itself is still unfolding.

Nowadays reporters, bloggers, content marketers and other communicators are expected to tweet regularly, often from industry conferences, seminars, panel discussions and other events.  After all, it is a great opportunity to “meet” new contacts and showcase industry expertise.  But, it requires skill, strategy and social savvy in order to be really effective.

I, along with several of my PR Newswire colleagues who manage our social media platforms, pulled together a list of Live Tweeting best practices that work for us.

Before The Event

  • In addition to identifying the event’s hashtag, determine which panel discussions you will attend and search the Twitter handles of the participants beforehand so that you can attribute statements accordingly. Keep an eye out for specific panel hashtags, too.
  • Before you head out, make sure your phone (or whatever tech you are using) is charged and ready to go. Bring a charger for all-day events. Getting caught with a low battery mid-tweet can deflate your experience and that of those watching.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and it doesn’t hurt to have a bottle of water on hand.

During The Event

  • Arrive early and sit as close to the front as possible so you can get photos to post and avoid any distraction in front of you. Take pictures of the event and pair those images with your tweets to draw engagement.
  • Post a tweet announcing your arrival. As you move from session to session, announce the title and participants. Use the relevant hashtag in every tweet in addition to the handle of the person you are quoting.
  • Be judicious about what you tweet. Think of it as curating someone’s speech. Your followers need to be able to trust that you will tweet relevant and useful information. Or, they may quickly become your former followers.
  • Remember who your audience is.  Select key “quotes” that are relevant and informative for your audience. Retweet content that will be easily understood and appreciated by your audience.
  • Bring a notepad to keep on hand. Sometimes it’s hard to capture statements as quickly as people talk or present slides. Having a notepad will help you keep track of who said what. It can also help you select the most impactful statement for tweeting if someone is really on a roll.
  • Retweeting can be as important as tweeting. Watch the conversation via the hashtag. Follow and retweet other live tweeters in free moments, but be careful not to retweet someone who works for a competitor (check their Twitter bio to be sure).  Little conversations will break out from those moments and you can make great connections. People often follow people who retweet them at an event.
  • Check on your notifications, too. Respond to tweets directly to you to engage with your immediate audience.
  • If you are tweeting on more than one account (brand and personal), do use a platform such as Hootsuite so you can go back and forth easily. Don’t tweet anything on your personal that you wouldn’t tweet on the brand account during the event. Wires sometimes get crossed when we are multitasking and a tweet may end up on the wrong feed.

After The Event

  • If possible, take the tweets and repurpose them into a recap piece, either using Storify or your own blog, and share it the next day. Tag the people you quoted so they share it too, and use the event hashtag.  This will give you a second opportunity to get in front of other conference attendees – especially the day after, when there aren’t so many event tweets to compete with.

Stay up to date on media trends and best practices. Subscribe to Beyond Bylines to receive posts by email.  Or if you’re looking for your next event to cover, sign up for media and events news via PR Newswire for Journalists – your one-stop shop for newsgathering with access to custom newsfeeds, ProfNet experts and our multimedia gallery. Sign up at prnmedia.prnewswire.com or contact us to learn more.

Thanks to Vicky Harres (@victoriaharres), Anna Jasinski (@annamjasinski), and Maria Perez (@ProfNet), for their contribution to this post.

Brett Simon is PR Newswire’s former director of audience relations. Follow her @savsimon.

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38 Responses

  1. What is the best way to follow the hash tag of the event at the same time as composing live tweets? Thank you for the article.

    • Anna Jasinski says:

      Hi Cynthia — thanks for your question!

      Keep the hashtag feed up in your view. You can still tweet with this visible.

      In lulls in between sessions or during moments where you aren’t tweeting what someone is saying (you want to capture the best statements only, so you don’t want to tweet the whole time anyway), scroll through hashtag view and see if there are some good things to retweet or reply to. This involves some multitasking, but should be quite doable.

      Hope this helps!

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  1. January 12, 2016

    […] July, we rounded up our top tips for live tweeting events covering the before, during and after. Here are 12 more for winning the night on Twitter for #SOTU […]

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