One way to get more out of conferences, webinars and other professional development events is to live tweet the highlights. Having been a newspaper reporter eons ago, I wanted to give it a try – so I did, with less-than-perfect results! But I learned some useful lessons to share.
Why would you want to do it? Live tweeting
- helps create a record that you can use to inspire or illustrate talks, blog posts and presentations
- brings you into contact with people who have the same interests and who you can follow on Twitter
- will likely gain you some Twitter followers
- makes you listen hard – you can’t afford your thoughts to wander
- helps your personal profile as people tune in to your enthusiasm for your topic and your willingness to get involved.
If you haven’t done it before it can seem daunting. Like everything, the first time is the worst. After my first attempt I went looking for the best practices so next time I’ll be better prepared and my tweets will be more coherent and useful. Give it a try, follow the 3 steps, and don’t worry if it isn’t perfect.
1. What to do before you start tweeting
Research the event before you join online or arrive at the session. Find out the official #hashtag so you can copy it into every tweet.
Find out the main participants and their Twitter handles so you can attribute information.
Use a management tool like Tweetfall. Some people also have a text editor open to play around with the tweet first.
2. When it’s under way
As the session or webinar gets going, listen out for anything that seems like an interesting highlight. You are looking for key phrases, interesting points and useful data, not to record the conversation word-for-word.
Paraphrase and remix to create tweets that suit your personality. Be yourself. Report what people are saying, add a comment, throw in a picture – it’s up to you. We don’t all have to live tweet in the same way any more than we’d all write the same blog post.
Mention who’s speaking. Attributing the tweet is just good manners and makes the tweet stream informative. On my first attempt I did this by name, but realized afterwards that it would have been better to use Twitter handles so that people could immediately follow the speakers.
Susannah Vila on www.socialbrite.org says it’s all about “curating the most relevant and important points that speakers make…use a format like “[name] says [their statement].”
Twitter Developers say on their blog: “Focus on the kind of Tweets that only you can create. If you’re tweeting an event, that could mean sharing your insider perspective, especially if you’re behind the scenes or sitting in the audience yourself. You know your style and your strengths: will you simply report on what’s happening or share strong opinions? Will you answer questions from your followers or keep it one-way? Will you play the role of the expert or the explorer? The key is to do what comes naturally to you.”
Cathy Reisenwitz has some great ideas for crafting tweets with impact: she says “Instead of just repeating exactly what the presenters say, which is what everyone will be doing, summarize their thoughts. Make statements stronger, punchier; hyperbolize a little bit.”
She takes notes in Word or Google Docs, watches what others are tweeting, and then tries to find a different perspective. She says this tweet got retweeted a lot because first, it’s useful and second, it says a lot in a few words.
Retweet others’ points that you may have missed or that you find particularly interesting.
From time to time check that your tweets flow in a logical order. Don’t jump back and forth from topic to topic or it could get confusing for people following your commentary.
How often should you tweet? Norah Heintz at Adfero Groups says “if many Tweeters are contributing to the conversation (or live-tweeting themselves) you should spend some time facilitating dialogue by asking questions and retweeting. If you realize that you’re the only one…it’s a good idea to dial back on the frequency of your tweets so as not to flood the Twitterverse with content that is exclusively yours.”
And the Twitter Developers say “there’s no predefined optimal number of Tweets to send in a live-tweeting session. You’ve got to do what feels right. Tweet when you’re inspired. If you’re not inspired: just answer questions, or play reporter and comment on events as they unfold.”
Whatever your approach, you’ll be making a real contribution to the conversation. And you’ll most likely be rewarded with new followers who are on the same wavelength. My live tweeting attempt brought me 10 new followers, I followed them back, and now I enjoy reading their tweets and interacting with them.
3. After the event
Once it’s all over, collect all the tweets on the event #hashtag together. You can do this with a #tag as a source and services such as Paper.li to collect posts, images and video or Storify to collect tweets. You’ll have a permanent record of the event that you can use in many ways – in presentations, for reference, as the kick-off for a blog post or a talk, or just to publish for your followers.
Davin Wilfrid on Future Insights says “DO go back and make something of your tweets…this is the extra step that takes live-tweeting from a simple sharing device to a real contribution to the community.”
Tweet to your new followers to thank them for interacting with you, and keep the conversation going by making follow-up points or asking their opinions.
More advanced resources
- An in-depth discussion of live tweeting do’s and dont’s from Steve Buttry, Director of Community Engagement & Social Media, Digital First Media, aimed at journalism students but useful for anyone working in communications – Suggestions (but not standards) for live tweeting
- A detailed presentation on live blogging and tweeting from Mandy Jenkins, who writes the Zombie Journalism blog, again aimed at journalists who live blog but with useful ideas for all – Live Reporting & Breaking News
Good live tweeting. Do you have any advanced tips to add in the comments below?