A business-to-business client recently asked me to pull together top tips for using Twitter at an industry event. The
client goal is to broaden the impact of an industry event via strategic use of social media.
There are smarter folks out there who have assembled good ideas for using Twitter at trade shows and conferences, including MarketingSherpa.
It’s All in the Preparation
After noodling ideas around and assembling the list, it is clear that the majority of these tips pertain to activities that need to take place before the actual event. It’s not enough to fire up a Tweet stream the day of an industry or business-to-business event.
The key concept here is strategic planning (isn’t it always, eh?). Tips one through 8 assembled below, for example, have everything to do with pre-event planning and tasks.
As this blog has featured in the past, the power of Twitter lies in building relevant followers, culling those outside of the target in a systematic fashion, and connecting with folks on an ongoing basis. Only then can the use of Twitter be effective for an industry event or tradeshow.
10 Twitter Tips for Events – (the first 8 need to happen BEFORE the event…)
1) First Things First: Set the Event Hashtag: Decide upon an easy to remember, intuitive and concise hashtag. Use http://hashtags.org/ to check if it is a unique choice. Minimize the character count to maximize the chance for retweets, plus avoid meaningless abbreviations. For our purposes here, the sample Business to Business 2011 Conference hashtag will be #b2bconf2011:
2 Pre-Promotions of Hashtag: Starting as early as possible before the event, promote the event hashtag on all outbound communications (email signatures; web; press releases; advertisements; HTML email; print; event website; invitations; etc.) include the following: Follow the B-to-B 2011 Event proceedings on Twitter #btobconf2011
3) Build Relevant Following Before Event: Connect and follow via Twitter with key influencers who would have an interest in this event (media; analysts; executives) as soon as possible before the event in order to gain key followers
4) Build Interest Before Event: Direct message all relevant key followers about the event. If they are not attending, invite them to follow the proceedings during the event using the event’s hashtag. Remember, you can only direct message folks who follow you. See point 3 above, the key is to engage with relevant folks early.
5) Coordinate a TweetChat During Event: Consider extending an invitation to Twitter followers or media not in attendance to ask questions, participate in panels as events are occurring using http://tweetchat.com/ during the actual event. This can only work if there are followers who can’t attend, who you reach out to via DMs, and ask for participation during the event via Twitter. This depends on pre-event promotions to be worthwhile
6) Consider Stream Options: Before the event, take time to consider live streaming some of the conference session speakers integrated with a live Twitter chat. See how to leverage livestream.com or http://twebevent.com/whatistweb
7) Prepare Promotions of Tweets/Hashtag During Event: Using large monitors, or on the presentation screen at the bottom of PowerPoint slides, set up a live feed widget at the event to showcase live Tweeting; include hashtag on signage, presentations during the event. Remind presenters or any emcees to announce the hashtag for participants to Tweet from event. Consider adding a small footer to nametags “Follow Event on Twitter at #b2bconf2011”
8) Showcase Tweet Stream: Set up a widget on the client’s website, relevant blogs to display tweets using http://www.tweetgrid.com/
9) Organize the On Site Team: Establish two or three folks to be the designated Tweeters during the event. Assign sessions to attend to cover the entire event. Tweet items of interest, engaging headline-worthy content and keep less than 125 char for optimal chance of retweeting by others. Consider a 3rd party collaboration tool to manage Tweets such as Hoot Suite, TweetDeck, CoTweet or other tools to track who is saying what and when. Use appropriate twitter handles and other key words and hashtags and embed links of interest as relevant. Assign one team member to monitor tweet stream during event; correct any erroneous hashtags being used; reply to any questions or concerns that might come up (don't let a Tweet go by that complains about the event for instance, without replying and trying to remedy the situation); retweet and comment; or connect with others who are at the event
10) Steady Stream, Consistent Messages: Keep Tweets “human” and personal during the event, but stay on topic (for our purposes for the sample conference, keywords include #marketing, #socialmedia, #business, etc) which will help put this information out to those already following those key hashtags. Intersperse live Tweets with scheduled Tweets. A tool like Hootsuite makes it easy to create and schedule Tweets in advance.