11 tips for Live Tweeting Events

Social media can carry messages around the world at the press of a button.  Live tweeting from an event can jailbreak the information there and give it to anyone, anywhere, who wants to listen, says Mark Brown.

There have been many recent publications and events imploring us to have a national conversation about mental health.  Why then do so many fascinating discussions happen at conferences, uncaptured and inaccessible to people wanting to join them?

In an age of social media, it’s possible for an event to reach far further and to have far greater impact than just including people in the room.

Live tweeting can allow people who aren’t at an event to see the event as it unfolds and to also take part in what happens at that event.  It’s different from reading a write up after the event as live tweeting is a real-time rolling news record of the event, and as such isn’t fixed.  People not in the room can ask questions, feed in views and ideas to the event hashtag if it has one and even take part in proceedings by passing on their views via those present in the room.  It’s bringing people to the party who never even got an invite.  This democritisation of access is vital if we want to broaden our mental health discussions and raise the level of sophistication in our arguments and debates.  For this to happen we need some brave souls who know how to cover an event via live tweeting and who are prepared to do so out of a sense of public service.

As @markoneinfour I now live tweet public mental health  most things I attend, working on the basis that I find the event interesting there’ll be others not present who will, too.

The following is a list of eleven tips for people looking to live tweet events and conferences.

It’s a companion piece to these tips for conference organisers wanting to make their conferences social media friendly produced by my colleagues @shirleyAyres and @paulbromford


11 Live Tweeting tips

  1. The purpose of live tweeting an event is to give people who aren’t an event and in the room as it unfolds a sense of what’s happening.  The best way to think of it to think of yourself as a radio journalist covering a sporting event for radio listeners.  The objective is to give people a useful idea of what is happening, who is doing it and what your response and the response of those around you is to what is occurring.

  2. Live tweeting from conferences requires you to listen, to understand and to summarise what the speakers are saying in such a way that’ll make sense to someone who isn’t in the room with you.  That means you’ll want to make sure that anything that is being said is attributed to the person saying it.  It’s a good idea to introduce the speaker in your tweets when they begin and to include their name in any subsequent tweets about what they’re saying.

  3. People follow conference hashtag for two reasons:  They have spotted the conference on twitter and think that it’s something they’re interested in or they are actually at the conference and are interested what other people are saying while at the conference.  For those in attendance the hashtag can be a great way to make others aware of what’s going on; what’s happening and as a way of finding other like-minded people at the event.  Interest is the primary reason for those following a hashtag remotely from wherever they are in the world.

  4. The objective of live tweeting is to provide value.  If you just tweet about how awesome the event is without giving any sense of why it’s awesome people won’t share any of the tweets and you won’t really be able to increase the reach and impact of your conference.

  5. The worst kind of event live tweets are ‘X is taking the stage to applause’; then nothing for ten minutes until ‘What an excellent speech from X!’  If the person isn’t saying anything you can share, why do you think that anyone who isn’t there might find them interesting?

  6. If you are live tweeting a conference as an attendee, it’s a good idea to remind your own followers that you’re at the conference and tweeting links to the event page throughout the idea so that people have some context to what it’s you’re tweeting.  Tell them to check out the hashtag every so often to make, suggesting it’ll give a better idea of what the event is about.

  7. Adding context to the hashtag by tweeting links to information about speakers such as their biography, media articles about them or other media can really help to give value to a conference hashtag both for those attending and those ‘listening from home’.

  8. If you are live tweeting be prepared for tweets from people who aren’t at the event asking you questions, arguing with what the speaker the words of whom you are relating is saying or even complaining about the premise of the event you’re at.  This is natural and normal; remember you are broadcasting via twitter to the world.  Answer people when you feel it’s appropriate, clarifying where necessary, directing to the purpose of the hashtag if someone has misunderstood the context of what is being tweeted.

  9. When live tweeting you can’t catch everything that someone says.  Try to catch salient facts and figures and notable quotes.  If there are enough people also in the room live tweeting you’ll build a fairly rounded aggregate account of what is said.  It’s fine to make comment, like ‘Interesting point from X, she’s outlining low prevalence of Y in Z group of people’.

  10. If you’re live tweeting you might like to warn your followers that’s what you’re doing, telling them that you’re going to be tweeting a lot over the period of the conference so they might like to mute you if they think that’s going to overwhelm their timeline.

  11. Remember, live tweeting is doing a public service by taking what happens in a room where only a limited people can be physically present into public so that far more people can take part.  It’s a great tool for promotion, but only if the information that it creates is worth sharing. The more people at an event that live tweet the better because that brings a multiplicity of voices about an event rather than just one corporate voice.

Mark Brown is development director of Social Spider CIC. He is @markoneinfour on twitter.

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