By Christine Anne George
One of the most useful sessions I’ve ever attended at AALL was the Law Library of Congress’ “The Multi-Channel Event Marketing Cycle” (described in this blog post) in Philadelphia in 2015. Before that, I had mostly thought about social media as a fun, creative outlet rather than a tool. Since then, I’ve put more planning into how I promote and/or cover events. I’ve already discussed using hashtags. Now it’s on to live tweets.
I’m going to rely upon Urban Dictionary’s definition of a live tweet: Something people usually hashtag when they want to know what’s happening currently, right here, right now. Your tweets are giving the play by play. This could involve summarizing what’s going on, directly quoting a speaker, or providing photos or video. Depending on how closely you want to document the event, it can get a bit intense. You need to be listening for sound bites to use while you are typing out a tweet of an earlier sound bite. Oh, and depending on whether or not you are involved in the event, you could be funneling questions to the speakers, or just interacting with people who are following online. After having live tweeted a few events, I have a different perspective as a speaker whenever I see someone hunched over a device, frantically typing.
After covering a couple of events, I’ve worked out a check list of things that I need to keep in mind in the lead up to and the event itself.
Choose the right device
Some people are able to type many sentences very quickly without making any spelling errors on their phone. I am not one of those people. So if I’m going to be doing a full-on live tweet, I make sure that I have a laptop or tablet with a keyboard at the ready. If I’m doing a live tweet lite (a term of my own making in which I take a few photos over the event with brief summaries of what’s happening), then I’m fine with using my phone.
Make sure your device of choice is charged
You may laugh that this has to be included on the list, but I’m of the mind that it’s better to have redundant reminders than dead devices.
Get the details
They say a little planning goes a long way, and they are not kidding. I like to have a cheat sheet with me with the following information:
- The speaker’s names, affiliations, and twitter handles
- Twitter handles of any event sponsors or affiliated organizations
- The event’s hashtag
- Subject relevant hashtags (Note: you may want to check these beforehand, just to make sure that you’re not linking your tweets to something best avoided)
It’s also worthwhile to check ahead of time to see if there’s anyone else who may be tweeting at the event. Then you can retweet them if you happen to miss something.
Pick a good seat
Again, you may laugh that this is included, but there’s nothing worse than going through all this planning and winding up behind a column. You don’t want to be in the front row, potentially distracting the speakers, but you also don’t want to be too far away to hear and get photos. To get the good seat, you have to know the layout of the room and get there early enough to claim it.
Bonus: Preserve your work
You’ve done the prep work, you got the seat, and you tweeted—don’t let all that work float away. Storify is a free tool that allows you gather tweets and other social media posts in one place. It’s a great way to recap an event.