How to live tweet: A guide to creating useful, shareable and error-free content
We do a fair bit of live tweeting here at Sookio. We cover events run by clients, like Ateronon’s symposium at the 2014 British Cardiovascular Society conference, or the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Science and Policy’s annual conference at the Royal Society in April.
Sometimes we live tweet as an attendee, which is what we’re doing for Lürzer's Archive at Cannes Lions this week when we're out there covering the festival.
There are several benefits to live tweeting. It positions you as a credible and reliable source of information, which in turn draws attention to your feed and can bring you more followers. If you are the event organiser it can just be a really helpful thing to do as it gives people who cannot attend an insight to goings on.
There is a bit of an art to it though! Here are some handy tips.
Like most situations in life, it pays to get there early. Is there wifi? Are you near a power source in case your battery runs alarmingly low? What hashtag is everyone using? Have you got a good view? I like to sit a bit out of the way rather than on the front row, as it can be off-putting to the people speaking to have some idiot right in front of them tapping away on their phone the whole time.
You might also be able to get an idea about the structure for the event. What topics will be the speakers be covering, how long will the event last and in what context is it taking place?
You are not a court reporter
It’s not about transcribing every single word spoken, it’s about capturing bitesize nuggets of wisdom. Think about key takeaways, the most important points.
Better to spend a few moments pondering over whether the tweet is of lasting value than to sit there writing out what is being said word for word and bombarding your poor followers with the entire transcript.
This does mean that sometimes you’ll have to summarise. Just be careful you’re not changing the meaning of what’s being said.
Make others notice you
You want to make sure you use the hashtag for the event in every tweet. This means people following the hashtag for the event will see your posts and may start following you. You might get a retweet from the organisers of the event. That's a very good thing, as they probably have many more followers than you.
You should also look out for people’s Twitter names and include them in your tweet. If the person speaking is on Twitter they might retweet you later on. They’ve probably got more followers than you too.
As well as using the hashtag in your own tweets, keep an eye on it to find interesting content that other people are sharing. You can retweet yourself, adding depth to the flow of tweets you’re putting out there. The person you retweet will be flattered and may even retweet one of your posts to their followers. Who are probably much more plentiful than yours (sorry).
Safeguard yourself from errors
Take a look at the subject matter and speakers’ names in advance. Anything tricky there waiting to catch you out? It could be an awkward spelling of a common name or a long word with which you’re unfamiliar. One thing I do is open up a Notepad or Word file beforehand and write down the content that I’m likely to need.
So for example if I know the name of the person speaking and the hashtag I’ll be using, I spend a few seconds writing it out before things kick off so it's ready to paste into a tweet. Then I just fill in the gaps to quote what they’re saying.
[Speaker name:] .................................................................................. [#hashtag]
Much easier than writing it out fresh in every tweet, and it can save you from the embarrassment of spelling someone’s name wrong. You can bet the one time you do that it’ll be with that really controversial or hilarious comment which gets retweeted like crazy.
Lastly, if the speaker says there are, say, seven key factors you need to know about X or nine things to remember about Y, alarm bells should start ringing. You're going to be holding a lot of information in your head and chances are you'll lose it by number five. With a bit of luck they’ll have slides for this, so take a quick pic and then write it all down at the end. The people outside the room don’t know that you’re doing this in a slightly different order.
Sharpen up your editing skills
When things are moving so quickly you’ll need to do some nifty editing to keep up. By the time you get the speaker name and hashtag in there, you could have already lost a quarter of your available characters.
So think about using lots of punctuation to break things up. Don’t try to fit too much into one tweet. But be careful that by summarising you’re not changing the intended meaning.
It’s important to remember that each tweet needs to stand alone and make sense on its own. People won’t read your feed in chronological order, and might just see your tweet because someone else retweeted it into their timeline. They won't understand the context. So keep this in mind for every single tweet you put out there.
Do something useful with the content afterwards
So you’ve been to the event, you’ve live tweeted like a demon... now what? Why not put together a Storify of the event, pulling together your best tweets along with posts from other people who were also there. You can also include content from other platforms to create a compelling story of the event.
Read our recent post for tips: The joy of Storify: Content curation made easy
Using Storify also gives you a record of the event, giving you content to turn into an interesting and insightful blog post. It also gives you an opportunity to connect with people who have a shared interest, so spend a moment when it’s all over to go through the tweets and see who looks interesting. You never know, some of them might not have as many followers as you.