I love live tweeting events. Since May, I live tweeted a disability conference, a blogging class and a few of the Emerging Writers Festival sessions.
I think that I got good at live tweeting because of sitting through so many uni lectures and taking pages and pages of notes, and also through six years of weekly minute taking in my day job. It’s finger callousing stuff.
I feel that live tweeting makes me concentrate on the discussion more than just sitting passively and listening. It is like joining into the conversation, only silently. And compared to note taking by hand, live tweeting is quick, interactive, useful as a summary for future pieces of writing, and benefits those not at a conference or event. Live tweeting makes it fun for those in the room and not at the conference. There’s been times I’ve tweeted funny stuff during an event, and I’ve had people in the room look up at me and smile, or reply to my tweet which results in fits of real life giggles.
Also, a message to event attendees: if you see me on my phone, I'm still paying attention, I am not bored, and I’m not being rude. In fact, I'm concentrating very hard to share the ideas with others. I understand not everyone will be using social media at the event, and there will be people in attendance that just won’t ‘get it’, but there will be many more who are appreciative of those live tweeting. Last year I went to the Business Chicks event featuring Ita Buttrose. I live tweeted her speech, and some of the women on my table looked at me wondering why I was on my phone when Ita and others were speaking, and others told me they just don’t understand or use Twitter. But Emma Isaacs, head of Business Chicks, came up to me thanking me for the tweets. It’s a great feeling to actively contribute to the discussion in a conference and share ideas with those unable to attend.
I’m attending a blogging event on Saturday, and I’ll be live tweeting it. Look out for my tweets: @carlyfindlay, and the hashtag to follow along will be #voicesof2013.
Here are my top 10 tips for live tweeting events:
1) Charge your devices.
Make sure your phone, tablet or laptop is fully charged. Take a charger and charge in the breaks. Better still - take two devices - one for tweeting on, the other for taking photos and making calls. I use my iPad to tweet (connecting it to WiFi) and my iPhone to Instagram, text and call people. I also have a battery pack for my iPhone - it gives me some quick charge without needing to plug my phone in to the power point. I just charge it at the wall before I leave home and plug it into my iPhone when the battery is low. It was great for when I was on the Human Brochure tour and there wasn’t a power point handy.
2) Connect to a network.
Some conferences have free wifi. Use it, but beware it may be patchy due to the volume of attendees also using the wifi. Don't rely on it – use your own wireless modem or mobile coverage. Also note that connecting to wifi can chew your battery, so see the tip above this one!
3) Provide some context.
Announce where you are, and that you’ll be live tweeting the event prior to starting the live tweets. I put this photo out on Instagram before I spoke and tweeted at Healthivate.
4) Use hashtags.
The event may have a hashtag (check with the organiser or other attendees whether it does), if not, create one – it may catch on. Hashtags will mean people will be able to follow along with the event even if they’re not there, or if they’re in attendance and want to review what was said during or afterward. Add one or two other relevant hashtags if there is room. Read my post about hashtags for advice and explanation about using hashtags.
5) Summarise what’s been said clearly and succinctly.
A tweet is a quick summary of an idea. You don’t need to tweet everything, just key points. Listen hard for those. Reference your quotes by either stating the name of who talking, or adding their Twitter handle if they have one. (Do a quick Twitter search of speakers listed on the program before the event starts. Event organisers - please put Twitter handles on the program if you encourage live tweeting.)
6) Tweet your opinion, but not too much.
Do tweet your opinion about the ideas discussed at the event, but try not to add them to every tweet (characters are limited). If I ask a question of the speaker, I will tweet my question after the discussion, and add another tweet expanding on my thoughts. Save your long-form opinions for a future blog post (see the final tip).
7) Tweet some pictures.
Tweet shots of PowerPoint slides being discussed at the event (make sure your photos are clear and readable!) or the speakers on stage. That's the picture I took when Jessica Gottlieb presented at Healthivafe.
8) Create a community.
Live tweeting brings followers and sharers, usually interested in what you are tweeting about. I get a couple of dozen re-tweets and follows when I live tweet conferences. Sometimes I receive questions or comments about the ideas or discussion I’ve tweeted – and I respond to these afterwards.
Even if you don't have many Twitter followers, using the hashtag will get your tweets out there to a bigger audience than your immediate Twitter followers. I guess people not attending a conference see a live tweeter as a bit of an expert in a subject.
9) Look up from your screen!
Give yourself a rest. Take breaks from live tweeting to just take in the content. I don’t live tweet everything – it’s tiring!
Use the breaks to connect face to face with event attendees.
10) Create a blog post from your tweets.
Use your live tweets in a blog post at a later date. Collate and expand on your thoughts. While I do copy and paste some of the live tweets/quotes into my blog posts, I don’t only use these. I add to the discussion by including my own opinion, in a well formulated, less stream of consciousness way. Writing the blog post is a great way to digest what was said at the conference and develop on the ideas discussed. I think that live tweeting rather than live blogging gives you a great chance to immediately share and then file away a lot of ideas to be used as content for a blog post. Reviewing and collating your tweets communicates the event a lot clearer than live blogging does.
I asked Twitter friends (of course) what they got out of live tweets from events when they have not been in attendance:
@MJLeaver: "I get Insight into what is happening, feeling like I'm there, if they are good tweets."
@MsValissa: "Conferences often have lots of snippets of wisdom, bite-size recommendations, or just intro me to interesting people to follow."
@dzulyen: "I can follow in the comfort of my pyjamas and couch."
@danniellecresp: "I like the quotes from speakers on topics I'm interested in."
@danniellecresp: "I follow some of the OS conferences that I just can't afford to attend. Sometimes you get some gems of info. :)"
@whatjanesays: "If it's a subject I'm interested in I like following # of events. Usually find people to follow and a few pearls of info too."
What are your tips for live tweeting events? Have you live tweeted any events other than conferences?