Having live-tweeted several times over the last year, I was feeling pretty confident, highly proficient, and not at all fazed when asked to step-in at short notice to take responsibility for tweeting at a recent event from the CIPR Scotland Twitter account.
I was so busy battering the keypad to keep up with the rich experience being shared that there were standard tactics I over-looked. So I thought it worth taking time to reflect, both to get your thoughts and to share my learning.
The free event, ‘A Day in the Life of the Scottish Government’s Communications Team’, organised by CIPR Scotland and Scottish Government, was just that; a rounded overview from senior Scottish Government staff about some of what they and their teams can be faced with in a normal working day.
Ranging from the 7am start for media monitoring, to the challenges of communicating in a crisis; from campaign management to Ministerial briefings, the speakers offered a lot of interesting insight into a broad portfolio of work.
For me the event was an opportunity not just to learn but also for professional networking – and it is within that context that my biggest learning point is framed.
What is the most effective social media toolkit contents that you can carry in your pocket heading to an event like this?
For me it is… toothbrush and toothpaste!
That’s right, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
This was an after-work event and as a result I’d grabbed a bite to eat prior to leaving work. The last thing I needed was to be chatting away, moving round the room, smiling at peers and maybe even potential employers with chicken pasta hanging from my gnashers.
What’s more, not only was I representing myself I am also a CIPR Scotland Committee Member and on this occasion helping out on the registration desk.
I say helping. Let’s use that in the loosest sense, which is presumably one small reason I was packed off to take over the tweeting!
If you’re wondering what exactly live tweeting is and the benefits, it is basically sharing the experience of people in the room with your followers and interested others.
The richer the content you create, the better the experience it is for those following it. It can help build up your profile and followers; connect with like-minded people; even link with someone in the room that, with 60 delegates at the Scottish Government event for example, may not have been otherwise possible. It is also free coverage.
Perhaps due to geographical or financial barriers, those following you can get a prompt, possibly better, certainly richer understanding of discussions than simply through an uploaded presentation days later.
You might be helping people overcome isolation, increase their learning, or improve employability through gaining better knowledge – never underestimate the power of live tweeting.
You’ll also good have evidence of what was said and quotes, but only if you save the tweets. More of that later.
Back in the room, what’s your approach? First steps start the night before.
Do your homework
First find out at the earliest opportunity that the event allows tweeting. I attended a conference at the end of last year under the Chatham House Rule, where participants are free to use information but by avoiding identifying the speakers.
Whether you’re a delegate or an organiser, agree a hashtag in advance and tweet it. In the build-up throughout the week or day prior, tell people you’re going, ask who else is attending, and always use a hashtag.
Hashtags help group your content together. If you’re setting a hashtag for an event, type it into Twitter first to avoid embarrassment to make sure it isn’t one being used for something ‘quite different’!
Make sure your battery has power. If, like me, you’re tweeting from a smartphone and it drains fast, then either invest in a better phone, a longer life battery (which can be expensive) – or as I did last week, as soon as you enter the room source the best seat with the nearest power socket and plug yourself in. Snooze you lose (but do share).
Find out if there is wifi and if so, a password. Though that will normally be shared on a slide or delegate pack, if it isn’t then just ask.
Planning to connect
How are you going to connect with people you network with at the event – give them your, and ask for their, Twitter handle; then get your phone out and follow them there and then?
That is perfectly acceptable. I often simply type content and information from the presentation or talk into my smartphone for future reference, though it is also worth being courteous to speakers too. Ask about the rules on tweeting if it is not mentioned. It might look like you’re working, texting and being rude and not at all interested, when actually that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Assuming you have access to the network, tweeting is by far the quickest way to instantly link to other delegates, which can then be followed up and reinforced later, possibly through other channels.
Is your Twitter account on your business cards?
Have you edited your LinkedIn profile web address to make it more memorable? My basic account is www.linkedin.com/in/marcommskenny – a little more memorable than a list of random numbers.
(Do remember people can see who has checked their LinkedIn account unless you have tweaked your settings.)
Also, start testing out introducing yourself not just by your name but also by your Twitter handle. Often, especially if I have been Tweeting beforehand, I straight away say, ‘I’m Kenny, marcommskenny on Twitter’. Infact last week wasn’t the first time that I have been introduced solely as marcommskenny.
While many speakers will share their Twitter account at the start of their presentation, seminar or talk, it is useful to find that out and engage beforehand if possible.
At the event
One major oversight I had last week was not to share imagery. Schoolboy error.
Imagery is vital if you want people following you or the hashtag to be able to fully engage and better sense the event as it unfolds. Quite literally putting faces to names. The one caution is of course to be courteous to those who may not want to be pictured.
Search for the hashtag and retweet others where relevant.
Find the balance between tweeting and listening and learning.
If you are managing the event Twitter account, ask if Tweeple have questions and relay them to speakers if possible. If there is no time to relay those questions then do your best to get answers, either at the event or after. That could be through a tweet, an email or even a blog post.
Limitations to live tweeting
I find it difficult to concentrate on listening at the same time as typing. I can’t ever type fast enough to keep up!
Using a laptop can be noisy (the way I batter the keys, my colleagues will concur) – however using a smartphone can be fiddly.
You have to consider your network reception .
Keep the conversation going – continue to engage, discuss, answer and retweet.
Who has followed you as a result of tweeting? Consider following them back.
Evidence the hashtag tweeting through Storify. Joe Walton, CIPR Scotland Secretary, created a Storify of last week’s event.
This may all seem like a lot to remember but in reality after practice it becomes second nature. Of course I still managed to overlook a few elements last week and I’l be checking back to this blog post next time to make sure I don’t repeat those mistakes.
Above all else, I’ll be trying hard to make sure I have the most important tools packed and ready – my toothbrush and toothpaste!
Take it easy, and remember to smile
You can find out more about CIPR Scotland through LinkedIn, Blog and Eventbrite.
Photo Credit: Marc Samsom via Compfight cc
Another excellent blog Kenny, useful hints and tips as well as insight. Loved the fact you said Chatham House Rule – so many people say rules, when of course there only is one. Hadn’t thought about checking #tags before setting one for a conference, bit obvious but I’ve overlooked it twice: fortunately got away with it. Looking forward to your next blog.
Glad you found it useful Derek; I did have a little confusion about the Chatham House Rule, as one throw away comment this senior public figure made in amongst a few sentences on it, when explaining the Rule, was that: ‘what is said in the room stays in the room’. That is a little different from my understanding, as outlined in the post, but I wondered if I mis-heard so that is why I played safe with my definition. This individual had a high-profile Political career so there is no way would he get it wrong! Hmmm.
I think your politician is getting mixed up with ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’. The rule is very clear it’s about attributability – you can use the info but the sources, the timing the venue cannot be disclosed. The rule is: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.” Chatham House. In other words you were right.
Good to know!
Reblogged this on Give it some sparkle and commented:
A reallu useful blog post from @marcommskenny featuring top tips on how to live tweet effectively at an event.
Live tweeting is an impressive skill to have and requires you to be able to keep many plates spinning, as Kenny says. It’s also great fun, too.
In the ‘Doing your homework’ section I’d add that a copy of the agenda with timings and locations, a list of the speakers (including their twitter addresses) and a synopsis of what they’re talking about is invaluable.
I’d also say, don’t worry about the frequency with which you’re tweeting in the main sessions versus the coffee breaks – as a reader following the event on Twitter it gives a real sense of ‘wish I was there’ to know that everyone’s just gone for a coffee. Of course, as the live tweeter you can always compound this and make them jealous by tweeting a photo of the cakes the audience is consuming 🙂
A great post, Kenny, thanks!
I wish I’d thought about not worrying about frequency of live tweeting at this last event – I was firing those tweets off! I was just enjoying the presentations and wanted to share, or maybe I just work better under pressure! I like the idea of the twitter address list for speakers. Useful, thank you Janet.
As someone who is #gatehashing (following an event no matter what the location is by using an assigned hashtag) conferences a lot of the time, live tweeting is important to people not just in the conference but those who may live 100s if not 1000s of miles away. By using a conference linked # I can not only follow what the organizers are saying but I’m able to see what others are thinking/discussing linked to the subject on the table. The use of a # also allows me to join in an event even if the event is in the UK and I’m in Australia. This certainly helps when the conversation continues.
I’m interested to see that you discuss how rude tweeting can look and whether you have the permission to do so and maybe this needs to become part of the opening conference rhetoric and house rules. Toilets here, smokers there and Tweeting is allowed using #conference2013 etc etc. Certainly to help this engagement conference organisers should start using the # earleir than conference day and build engagement as well as displaying the # at the event and even have a live stream being shown somewhere in the conference room so those not on Twitter can see what is being said. Discussions around Twitter in meetings/forums/conferences have been a hot topic amongst IAP2 peeps in South Australia just recently and whether its now becoming a generational thing and do we have rules even areas at conferences where Social Media can be taught or done with out telling glares.
Finally I read recently how a conference in Queensland employed the tactic of giving each conference table access to a named iPad that was uploaded with all relevant conference docs but also a Twitter account assigned to that iPad. Conference attendees where encouraged to tweet and twit pic thoughts, questions, views etc throughout the conference so the conference was being wholly live tweeted and so the outside world could follow what was happening in the room. (A live stream was also available in the room)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts
Great thoughts Andrew, some really exciting stuff there – and it seems Shirley Ayres (http://shirleyayres.wordpress.com/about) also thinks so to, as she indicated through a recent tweet in response to your comment. Likewise, I love the idea of not only putting delegates in the social media driving seat but also providing them with the resources to do so, instantly removing inequality and reducing major barriers to access.
I you’re mostly right about live tweeting, indeed tweeting generally, being generational. The demographics indicate that, far more than I expected actually. Measurement is my big focus for 2013 so I’m really interested to understand exactly who is using social media in Scotland.
For example I keep hearing that all socio-economic groups are using Twitter. I struggle to believe that, I think it is increasingly a professional platform, though the stats only partly support my assertion.
Again referring back to the (UK-wide) Ipsos MORI tech tracker I reference in my current post, ‘Time to blossom: branch out your social network’, the indication is that:
– there is no significant gender bias – virtually equal numbers of men and women use Twitter;
– over 1 in 3 users are aged 15-24;
– that is the same proportion as 35-44s and 45-54s put together;
– those aged 25-34 account for only 1 in 5 users;
– overwhelmingly people on Twitter are from socio-economic group C1, 2 in 5;
– that is almost double that of ABs and triple that of groups C2 and DE respectively, and;
– 4 in 5 Twitter users own a smartphone and under a third own a tablet.
I certainly do think the approach you outline can start to overcome inequality of access and understanding. Brilliant Andrew, thank you.
Hi again. Thank to both you and Shirley for the positive response and tweeting the comment out. Like I said on Twitter it is something I’m looking into at the moment for the council I work for here in South Australia as an extension of our Community Engagement tools with the idea that we use iPads to enhance participation using twitter and other apps to live engage.
What you say about removing inequality and reducing major barriers to access is certainly a big bonus of using such tools in this modern world where engagement opportunities are moving more and more online. In fact the removal of barriers will be one of my big arguments for introducing this idea into the community engagement work I do.
I must also mention Helen Christensen, a community engagement worker in Victoria, Australia who shared a conference report with me that planted the original ideas I am now working on.