The coming weeks are setting up to be the holy grail of live-tweeting opportunities. Just running through the highlights of what's to come:
- The Grammy Awards: January 28
- The Super Bowl: February 4
- The Olympics Opening Ceremony (Tape Delayed): Friday, Feb 9 at 8 pm EST
Using Twitter to insert your brand or company into the conversation has the opportunity to be quite powerful. On the other hand, sometimes Twitter can be the very distraction which leads you to ruin the Oscars.
If you're planning to wade into the treacherous waters of live-event Twitter, we have some advice:
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare
Before you even put fingers to keyboard: Do you have the authority to speak on behalf of your company/brand? What guardrails does your company have in terms of language or appropriate subject matters?
Better yet, should you be posting at all during the event? In other words, should your brand or company even be participating in the conversation? Would it be appropriate for a toy company to live-tweet the kickoff of the Super Bowl? Maybe not, but the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade -- the kickoff to the holiday shopping season? Absolutely.
Once you have the authority and your content guardrails nailed down, it's not a bad idea to begin compiling backup content (e.g., "did you know..." facts or pre-made graphics) for lulls in the action.
Larger organizations have been known to take a "newsroom" approach to live events. For example the famous Oreo tweet during the Super Bowl blackout? While it was hailed as spur-of-the-moment genius, it was created, approved and posted within minutes thanks to a room full of agency and brand decision-makers.
2. Use the right hashtag (duh.)
This seems so basic, but in order to ensure you're in the conversation, make sure you've found the universally-used hashtag. Finding it is usually as easy as searching the feed of the official Twitter account for the event.
For example, for the upcoming Winter Olympics, the official @Olympics account is using #PeyongChang2018.
Side note: good thing Twitter went to 280 characters because #PeyongChang2018 is way too long.
3. Let the tools help
You may already have a social media management system (SMMS) that you're fond of, but tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck really come in handy during live events. Tweetdeck is totally free and Hootsuite offers a limited version for free, as well. In each of these, you can follow #hashtag conversations, look at your @mentions and schedule posts.
If you really want to take your Twitter game to the next level, we swear by Twitter Lists. With lists, you can curate a feed of content from just the accounts you select. Think of it as your home feed, but without your brother-in-law's lame retweets The Chive.
Sure, you probably get kudos for your timely wit and generally clever turns of phrase. Don't be a hero, though. Text-only content has been shown to get less engagement than something with an image or video. Of course, you're not going to have a hundred videos ready to go, but a dash of jpeg and a pinch of YouTube makes for a spicy marinara.
Also: the retweet is your friend! There's no shame in repurposing content from someone else, as long as you give them the credit. This not only adds content to your feed when you may not have the perfect post, but it also leaves open the opportunity to build community with the content creator.
5. Don't Forget Snapchat and Instagram Stories
Ok, so this last one has nothing to do with Twitter, but everything to do with where live event coverage is headed.
First, if you're covering a live event, Snapchat's Snap Map is quite possibly the coolest way to keep track of what's going down in real time in any specific geographic area.
Here's hoping the above advice for covering events live via social gets you to a place where you're comfortable jumping in.
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