Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Winging It: Live Tweeting Lessons Learned

You’ve visited the registration table and donned your name tag, networked with other attendees and selected your seat. As the event emcee crosses the stage and approaches the podium, you ready your smart phone, prepared to send your first tweet about the event starting. The emcee opens his mouth…and requests all attendees turn off their
cell phones.


If you’re confused and put off by this turn of events, you’re not alone. When my colleague – who actually experienced this “anti-social” announcement firsthand – relayed this story to
me, I was quick to respond with my own frustrating experience.

In attendance at a communication association event, I immersed myself in translating the keynote address into tweet-friendly snippets. With soft, unobtrusive tap-tap-taps, I hashtagged my way to messages retweeted by the speaker’s organization, and other interested PR professionals. Halfway through the talk, however, one woman at my table– who had made her less-than-enthusiastic opinion of Twitter quite apparent before the program began – told me to turn around and hold my BlackBerry below the table “if I insisted on using it right now.”

Despite the increasing prevalence of social media, and number of individuals accessing these apps through their phones – 31% of all mobile consumers in the U.S. own smart phones, cell phones with app-based, web-enabled operating, according to a December 2010 Nielsen
study – these two occurrences clearly point to the fact that not everyone is ready to embrace this form of communication.

There are ways, however, to smooth any feathers ruffled by individuals prone to squawking at live tweeters. Please note several of the following suggestions are easiest to achieve if you can converse with the organizers prior to the day of the event.

Consider the (crowd’s) source
Know your attendees, and be prepared for professionals who have embraced social media as part of their 9-to-5 identities – such as communication professionals – to naturally feel inclined to tweet from the event.

Rephrase the reminder

Suggest the reminder to turn off cell phones be modified to kindly request attendees place their phones on silent.

“Pound” the pavement
Encourage the event organizers to select a hashtag to accompany all event-related tweets, and announce it at the start of the program.

Wear your handle on your sleeve
Recommend that name tags include Twitter handles on them, or ribbons identifying the individuals who will be live tweeting the event. Even better, propose providing a table or designated area (or tweet-up) for anyone who plans to tweet about the program.

Meet, greet and tweet
Introduce yourself to anyone you may not know at your table, or sitting in your immediate area. Take some time before the event starts to converse about social media. Find out if anyone else is active on Twitter, and if so, what their handles are. And mention you plan to tweet throughout the event, so no one misinterprets your phone-focused nonverbal behavior for emailing or other inattentive multitasking.

What tips for encouraging live tweeters to participate actively would you add? Have you ever been on the receiving end of negative opinions about posting social media updates in public? Do you encourage live tweeting at your association events?

This blog post was written by Margot Mackay and originally appeared on the Association Headquarter blog here.  This blog post was written by Margot D. MacKay. Margot is a Public Relations Coordinator at Mt. Laurel NJ-based Association Headquarters, Inc. (AH). In this capacity, Margot services a variety of non-profit associations, providing strategic communications, social media expertise and media relations solutions. Margot graduated from Villanova University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, and earned a Master of Science in Public Relations from Boston University  in2007. She enjoys connecting with PR professionals on LinkedIn, and tweets regularly from @msbruschetta, conversing with local, national and international practitioners, as well as lovers of fitness, food and Philly. 

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