A while ago, I helped plan, market and host a week-long event geared toward helping entrepreneurs. The event, called Triangle Entrepreneurship Week, consisted of two to three panels per day covering everything from small business legal needs to business sustainability. (If you’re in the Triangle area, I highly recommend you check it out.)
Like most event staff, I had several jobs throughout the process, but my main job was to manage the Twitter feed — both in the few months leading up to the event and during the event, in the form of live-tweeting. This was my first experience in such a role, and I had no idea how much to tweet so I decided to err on the side of too much. I’m sure I was quite a sight, furiously typing away, trying to make sure I didn’t miss any quotable moments. All in all, I tweeted about 1,000 times, and 600 of those tweets were “live.”
The entire experience was phenomenal. Throughout the process, the @TriangleEW account grew from about 550 followers to 1,000. (Note: I helped two years ago, so the numbers are different now.) We had a lot of engagement with the event hashtag, something like 1,200 tweets were composed in total.
I learned a lot in the process, both about managing a small business and about hosting a lengthy event. Specifically, when it came to live-tweeting, here’s what I took away.
- It’s easier than I thought it would be.
Looking back, despite the “furious typing,” live-tweeting was actually easier than tweeting before the event. In the months leading up to the actual week, I had to scour the Twitter-verse to find content. We were still trying to sell tickets, so I had to find the right balance amount promotional tweets to mix in. None of that mattered during the panels. The content was right in front of me — my fingers just had to keep up.
- Retweets are an easy way to produce content.
It’s much easier to retweet a quote than to type it yourself. Plus, the panelists don’t stop and wait for you to catch up.
- Constant requests for live tweeting helped, as well as other incentives.
Don’t underestimate people’s desire to be retweeted online. I noticed quickly that once I retweeted someone, they began to tweet much more frequently.
- Live tweeting is a great way to gain followers.
Like I said above, the @TriangleEW Twitter following went from 550 to about 1,000 during the few months I managed the feed. We gained about 250 of those followers during the event. That’s about 50 followers per day!
- Don’t tweet everything — you’re needed elsewhere.
Even though my “official” job was to live-tweet the event, I did everything from usher people inside to set up chairs to grab breakfast for the crew. In reality, I only live-tweeted about half of the panels. Nevertheless, things like breakfast and chair set-up were much more important for the event to run smoothly. Even if you’ve been assigned one job, be flexible.
- It was harder than I thought to recognize the panelists.
This was a huge problem when I was trying to attribute a quote to someone. If I could go back, I would definitely spend some extra time studying the brochure beforehand to make sure I could pick out who was talking.
- Thank you tweets are best pre-written.
About halfway through the week, I decided to create a Word document with tweets thanking each panelist individually. After each panel (easily the most chaotic parts of the day), it was easy to copy and paste these pre-drafted tweets online.
- The job doesn’t end at the same time as the event.
Triangle Entrepreneurship Week ended Friday evening. My job didn’t end until the middle of the next week. We had gotten a lot of buzz, and we wanted to ride the wave of attention until it died off. Luckily, because there were so many live tweets, I had plenty of content to use.
- Live-tweeting makes you super engaged.
One of the criticisms of live-tweeting is that you’re so focused on getting the right tweets, you miss the actual event. I disagree. The job forced me to pay close attention throughout the panel — much more attention that I would have paid otherwise. Also, after the week ended, I had 600 “notes” I could look back on any time I wanted to revisit a topic.
- The event hashtag is a life-saver.
Now I see why every event has a hashtag. It was super helpful to find content to retweet because it was all accompanied by “#TEW2013.” My job was literally done for me. So seriously, pitch that hashtag at your event!