transformational experiences summit, or the madness of live tweeting an event


Events / Thursday, April 30th, 2015

While I have dabbled in social media marketing, I had not live tweeted an event before being approached to do so for the Transformational Experiences Summit at the Entertainment Technology Center.  The difference between the relative peace of scheduling tweets up to weeks in advance and the utter craziness of second-by-second updates is something I experienced in spades today.  Although extremely satisfying, it is also tiring being the sole person responsible for taking photos and tweeting all day through a day-long conference that occurred simultaneously in 4 different rooms on 3 different floors.

The Technique

  1. Planning: I used Hootsuite, and although I had planned some generic tweets ahead of the event, they all kind of fell by the wayside.  The best research I did beforehand was researching all the presenters and notable attendees, finding out their twitter handle and taking note of their number of followers.  There’s also a metric called klout score that represents a person’s influence on a scale from 1-100, that was useful.
  2. Tech: I had a tablet and a Canon DSLR from the ETC, and while independently these work well for taking photos and tweeting respectively, they do not work together to post tweets with images in them.  I tried doing both photos and tweets with the tablet but the photos came out low quality and sometimes blurry.  Ideally, I would recommend making sure you have a tablet that takes high quality pictures and using that to live tweet.  Avoid doing what I had to do – run around, take all my photos with the DSLR and notes on the tablet, return to my project room and upload the pictures to the computer, prepare the tweets in Hootsuite on the tablet, post the tweets from the computer with the images attached.  Horrific.
  3. Tweets: We had a hashtag that I included in all tweets, #etctes2015.  This is not the most descriptive hashtag but given the long name “Transformational Experiences Summit”, I guess it was the best we could do.  In each tweet, I tried to be descriptive about a particular talk, including a quote or new information shared by the presenter.  This made the tweets informative for attendees that couldn’t attend the talk or for those following the hashtag or the ETC Twitter account. Using descriptive tweets with photos supported live tweeting rather than being canned tweets that were planned ahead of time, but they were a lot more work.  I had to pay attention and take notes at the talks I attended, in addition to snapping pictures and constantly refreshing Hootsuite.  I focused heavily on talks with notable presenters, especially the ones with numerous followers and a high klout score.  I would tag these accounts in the tweet as well.
  4. Engagement: In addition to live tweets, I had to manage retweeting tweets about the conference and replying to attendees’ tweets.  I did this sparingly and again tried to choose high impact accounts and provide information or try to increase engagement with the attendees through responding to them.  This added another complex layer to my job, since I was tagging accounts in the tweets, following the hashtag, and looking at replies to my own tweets.  The panels in Hootsuite were super helpful, and having one tracking #etctes2015 and one tracking @cmuetc, as well as setups for scheduled tweets, was extremely effective.
  5. Coverage: Being the solo photographer/tweeter across sessions going on simultaneously in three different rooms, on four different floors was a challenge to say the least.  I ran from one floor to the next and caught only snippets of each talk, but had to make sure we covered enough talks in detail by taking notes and making the tweets as descriptive as possible.  I had to take a few notes, snap some pictures, and zip off to the next location.  This put my listening skills to the test, and forced me to very quickly get to the essence of a talk when I had little time to do so.  Even though it was such a small conference, it was logistically complicated and having more help on the social media end would have been welcome.  There were volunteers for AV, tech and speaker wrangling in each room, and maybe if we had planned for social media earlier we could have set up a repository for photos and notes from these volunteers that they took on the spot with their phones to help me out just a little.
The cluttered desk (and state of mind) of a social media marketer.
The cluttered desk (and state of mind) of a social media marketer.  At least they fed me well.

The Statistics

  1. My tweets: 27 (4 retweets) over 13 hours, and an additional 3 (1 retweet) the day before
  2. Favourites on my tweets: 46
  3. Retweets of my tweets: 38
  4. New followers: 13
  5. Hashtag engagement (excluding my tweets and retweets of my tweets): 30

(as of tonight, 30 April 2015)

One of my tweets.  The Twitter timestamp is wrong, this was actually probably about 9:23AM at the opening keynote.
One of my tweets. The Twitter timestamp is wrong, this was actually at 9:23AM at the opening keynote.

Overall, although I was exhausted by the end of the day (and still expected to present my project during the showcase), I was satisfied with my work.  I really enjoyed live tweeting as it gave me a good bird’s eye view of the whole conference, although I wasn’t able to stay and fully engage in any one of the talks.  I think social media is a powerful tool for marketing and communication, and having the correct tone and voice is a valuable skill, as is being able to get to the essence of a subject in 140 characters.  It’s a great way to get very quick feedback and feel instant results of your work.  I definitely want to explore this further, so with the TES under my belt, I’m ready and willing to live tweet more events using the techniques I’ve honed today.

Any offers?  Just maybe not this week.  I truly am exhausted and it’s time to return to my project and my team for the time being.  Good night.  #etctes2015 #thatwasfun