Live Tweeting at Conferences

With DockerCon next week, many of us will descend upon the conference, laptop and mobile device handy, to share the conference nuggets via our social platforms.

I’ve been doing social media for companies, conferences, people, and myself for years. There are many different methods and tactics tried, checking the metrics to assess the effectiveness. This blog contains some actions and best practices so you can get ready to Live-Tweet at your next conference event!

First – why do we share our conference experience?

There are many reasons to Live-Tweet from conferences, one being to tweet in near real-time about the conference. This can be the content (keynotes and presentations), networking events, and pictures of people. Why do this?

  • We all hear something different. Sharing what you hear provides a unique perspective that conference goers and followers of the event hashtag may want to hear.
  • Try to capture the things that stand out and create some type of emotional response.
  • Share pictures of people. It’s a way for anyone to feel connected at the event.
  • When I tweet, I want to help build community, connect people, and sharing content that helps get others noticed.

Side-Note – People tweeting from my presentation

Yes, I look at the Twitter that is happening during my presentation – after the presentation of course! It’s a great way to get feedback and if the talk is valuable to the audience. So – tweet the positive and negative comments. The speakers are watching!

 

Best practices

Doing Live-Tweeting for many years and many different types of Twitter handles, I’ve found the things that work and don’t work. Below are some best practices to consider as you prepare for your Live-Tweeting.

Gather the speaker Twitter handles before you get to the event

Use these Twitter handles when you tweet about this person or organization! This will show up on their Twitter feed and give them feedback on what is standing out to you (that is back to providing speaker feedback). Having these Twitter handles handy will save the time finding them during their presentation (which takes away from listening to the presentation).

Use the conference hashtag (#)

All of these conferences have a # they are using. Go to their Twitter handle and take the nano-second to find the # they are using and use that #.

For DockerCon, use @DockerCon, #DockerCon, @Docker

People DO follow the conference #. It’s a great way to get through the noise of Twitter and find the content related to the conference. Attendees read it to find the interesting things at the conference. People who can’t attend the conference but want to keep up with the content are following the #. Conference organizers and speakers looking for feedback on their event / presentation and something to retweet are following the #.

Your followers who are not interested in the conference can mute the conference # instead of muting or unfollowing you. More on muting later.

Start a Google Doc

I often have a Google Doc with the Twitter handles of the speakers and industry influencers, and event and industry hashtags. Sometimes I’ll type the tweet in the Google Doc and then copy and paste it to Twitter. This helps with spelling, grammar, and making sure you have the right Twitter @’s and #’s.

Photo

Twitter best practices are to include at least one photo – those tweets perform significantly better than tweets without a pictures. This has been studied by many people and this was proved via Twitter metrics I’ve gathered. So, take that picture and include it with your tweet!

Taking pictures of a presentation, try to get the speaker and a slide – especially if that slide has the content you want to tweet about.

Another tactic is to have the live feed running on your laptop.Take a screenshot from the live feed and use that as the photo in the tweet. Using this saves the time of taking the picture, getting it from your phone to Twitter, composing the Tweet, checking the content, and then tweeting. Use the screenshot, draft the content in the Google Doc, copy and paste into Twitter on your laptop, and tweet. I actually use both tactics at an event – for variety!

Tweet Text

This is where your knowledge and personality shows!

Live-Tweeting means paying close attention to the presentation – listening for the quotable lines and insights that mean something to you and what you think the people following you will find interesting. For me, often these tidbits I find to tweet are things that are a learning for me.

A best practice I’ve been using for years – start your tweet with the interesting content, then the speaker Twitter handle, then the event Twitter handle, event #, and other relevant #. This way you catch the reader’s attention. Think of it this way – Content, Community, You (if you must).  

Tweet, Retweet (RT), or Quote Retweet (QRT)

Last year I did a test and checked the metrics of different tactics of Live-Tweeting at events. One event, they were all original tweets. At another even, all RTs and QRTs. At another event, it was a combination of original tweets and RTs / QRTs. The metrics checked were Engagement (Likes, RTs, Replies, and Link Clicks) and Impressions.

The combination of tweets and RTs/QRTs had good engagement metrics and the best impression metrics (not surprisingly). Doing just RTs/QRTs was the easiest for me (I just looked for interesting things other’s tweeted and it gave me time to listen to the presentation), but those were the worse engagement metrics. All original tweets had the best engagement metrics, but this is extremely time-consuming.

So – I do a combination of original tweets and RT/QRT. This approach with the RT/QRT is a community friendly approach and helps expand the notice of that person to another follower base.

Mistakes

Yes, sometimes there are mistakes in a tweet – wrong person is quoted, I get the meaning wrong, and yes (the horror!) even spelling errors. Work very hard to resist the urge to delete the tweet! Instead, Reply to your tweet to correct the error or provide more context.

Mute Note and Risk of Unfollowers

I had a co-worker tell me that they would un-follow the company Twitter handle because there were too many tweets at the event. In reality – and I did check the stats – on all the Twitter handles I’ve managed and Live-Tweeted from during an event, we have only lost one or two followers and actually the number of followers have grown.

That doesn’t mean that all that Live-Tweeting is not irritating our Twitter followers. We have all seen that tweet that says I’m at #<event> and will be doing a lot of tweeting. If you don’t want to see all those tweets, mute me or the conference #<hashtag>. I’ve started doing this tweet and I think it’s a good public service announcement.

At the End of the Day…

Live-Tweeting can be a lot of work, but it is super-fun. I love this open source community and the people – connecting people or promoting someone else through Twitter is the real joy in this. And, a little selfishly, sharing what I find interesting helps build my reputation that I actually know the technology I’m talking about. If the speaker or the conference is finding value in what I’m tweeting – something they can use in their Twitter or a future presentation – even better!

What do you do when you Live-Tweet? Tweet to me your ideas – I’d love to hear them (my Twitter handle @kamcmahon). If I get enough suggestions, I’ll do an update to this blog and include your ideas with the credit to you (of course!).

A huge thank you to Amanda Katona. She has been my muse, my guidance, and my reader of blogs to help make them better.