Tips for Live-Tweeting Like a Pro

You wouldn’t think about running a marathon without training. Similarly, when it comes to live-tweeting, you’ll get much better results when you train before you tweet. Live-tweeting an event is a great way to get an organization’s message out to a relevant audience and engage with them in a meaningful way. Like any communications muscle, though, your live-tweeting skills require practice and preparation to be their strongest.

Here are six tips to ensure you and your audience get the most out of your efforts.

    1. Plan spontaneity: This may seem like an oxymoron, but planned spontaneity is the foundation of any strong live-tweeting strategy. Plan as many core messages, announcements and segues as you can in advance. This frees up your time on Twitter for engaging in natural conversations, capturing interesting quotes, and monitoring what others are saying about the event or your organization so you can answer or retweet them. Planning also ensures you have interesting, nonrepetitive messages and fewer opportunities for typos. As you prepare your content, don’t forget to include questions and polls that you can sprinkle throughout the conversation.
    2. Prepare visuals: Videos spur people to take action, and social media videos generate 12 times the shares of text and images combined. While you can’t have a video attached to every piece of content, you can have visuals to accompany most pieces. As you prep for your event, compile prepared visuals into an easily accessible library so you can slot them into your tweets and pre-identify presentations or sessions at your event where you can grab a photo to accompany your content. This preparation will allow you to post visually creative and diverse content instead of relying too heavily on images of speakers behind podiums or photos of text-heavy posters that are better suited to be experienced in person.
    3. Build your audience: “Twitter is a little bit like a cocktail party — you can’t just walk up to somebody and spout your messages at them,” says Tammy Gordon, founder of social media agency Verified Strategy. Gordon, a seasoned digital communicator and live-tweeting pro, recommends creating audience lists and engaging online with your key audiences prior to your event. By doing your homework, you understand your audiences’ interests and how to engage with them. When you invest in an online relationship with your key audiences beforehand, it makes any ask less transactional, and your requests won’t seem like they’re coming out of thin air.
    4. Determine a checkpoint: Live-tweeting is an exercise in trust. When you live-tweet on behalf of an organization, you serve as its voice. To maintain the organization’s trust, Gordon recommends determining prior to live-tweeting which topics are safe and which ones are potential red flags. Gordon categorizes these into traffic light colors: Green means anything that can be shared or retweeted without review; yellow represents topics that are problematic and need a second set of eyes; and red stands for “no-go,” meaning you shouldn’t respond if the topic comes up. This system helps minimize potential messaging pitfalls or sticky situations.
    5. Prepare your audience: Every person and organization you engage with likely has their own threshold for what they consider too many live tweets. Instead of trying to guess the magic number, Gordon has a simple but effective tip: Tell the audience in advance you’re going to live-tweet for the next hour (or whatever the duration of your event is), and thank them for engaging with you. This allows your followers to engage as much or as little as they want and also prevents them from unfollowing you, since they know the increase in messages is temporary.
    6. Make a technology checklist: Finally, make sure you have all the tech you need to live-tweet successfully. Have fully charged batteries, chargers and spare battery packs. Carry hotspots with you in case of spotty Wi-Fi. If possible, scope out the event space in advance and determine if there is one central location where you can set up a workstation so you have access to all your dashboards.

Just like your first race, your first time live-tweeting may seem daunting and comes with its own set of challenges. But with practice, you’ll navigate the course like a pro and come up with your own tricks and tips to improve your record with each performance.