How to Use Twitter at Events Effectively
People love to tweet about conferences and whether you are capturing the tweets or not, people will be tweeting about your event: before it happens, while it is happening and even afterward. Below is a complete guide for using Twitter.
The most important thing you need to do is pick a hashtag for your event and promote it. Without a hashtag, there isn't much you can do. It is essential that all attendees know the hashtag and use it. Typically, it is short and memorable, aka #IDC2013 or #SXSW. If your event is an annual event, you need to decide whether to attach the year to your hashtag or not. Your hashtag should be unique to the event, so be sure to check in advance that your selected hashtag is not already taken. It should be short, logical and easy to remember.
Once you've picked the hashtag, you may also activate a tweet archive for that hashtag and with an active archive, you can rest assured that you won't miss a tweet with that hashtag in it.
You should announce your hashtag officially, and do it early. Otherwise, attendees will often take it upon themselves to create one, and you could end up with two or three different versions, which makes it more difficult to track engagement. You should also add the event hashtag prominently on the event website, your social media profiles and of course use it in all of your tweets about the event.
If you start engaging an audience on Twitter early enough, potential attendees can even help you shape the event itself. After all, you're organising an event for attendees, so why not ask them what they would like to see from your event, what topics that they want to hear addressed, what's important to them in terms of sustainability, and so on.
There are lots of things you can do to promote the hashtag and start getting value out of it before the event:
- During registration At the conference registration process, provide a mechanism to allow the attendee to tweet that she is going to the conference, automatically inserting the hashtag for them.
- In communication with attendees In emails sent to attendees before the show starts, encourage them to tweet about the conference using the hashtag.
- On the conference website On the conference website's session pages, encourage attendees to tweet what sessions they are excited about.
- Have speakers use the hashtag Your speakers are your ambassadors. Let your speakers know about the hashtag.
During your event, Twitter can be a great back channel conversation about how the event is going. Again, it is important that attendees know the hashtag to use, so make sure it is posted in signage around the conference and on speaker's opening and closing slides. Encourage your speakers to annouce the hashtag in their sessions.
Once the conversation gets going, you can bubble up the conference. Here's some ideas:
- Display the top user visualization as a leaderboard People love gamification and leaderboards. By displaying the Top User visualization, you can start a (friendly) competition for who tweets the most at the conference.
- Promote the Top Words visualization The Top Words visualization is a beautiful word cloud of what people are tweeting about. It often captures the themes of a conference quite compellingly.
- Capture pictures with the Top Images visualization If your attendees attach images to their tweets, they will be displayed in the Top Images visualization.
- Capture pictures with the Top Images visualization Did someone famous tweet about your conference? Use the influencer index to find out!
It is worth noting that when you embed the visualizations in a webpage, they auto update once an hour. So, you put a visualization up on a monitor and attendees can always see the latest.
The event doesn't stop when the event stops. There is plenty more interaction to be had, especially when it comes to Twitter. Here are some things you can do after your event:
- Post a blog post about the event. Give your top takeaways or even do an embedded tweet post where you showcase some of the best Tweets.
- Reach out to your new "connections" via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook by retweeting their blog posts
- Keep engaging in lists and groups
- Remember to offer valuable content and not ask, but to give your help, expertise, content without expectation of anything in return
- Be sure to share the posts of others, if you don't write a post after the event,
- Keep an eye on the main event hashtag for a few weeks after – the buzz will continue!
- Scour the tweets for attendee complaints. When you find a complaint, tweet the attendee back and/or use the data for improving your conference next time.
- Find out what you did well. Discover trends on what attendees liked about the show.
- Figure out who your influencers are. The Top Users chart and Influencer Index chart are mechanisms to find the most vocal and most influential people tweeting about your conference. Reach out to them so that they are in your camp!