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Using Twitter for Events – Part 1: Preparation

This post was written by Gwynydd Murray, Client Care Specialist with Greenfield Services.

The importance of social media is undeniable, and Twitter specifically can be used as an effective event promotion tool for associations. In my experience as a third-party Social Media Coordinator, there are some things I have learned that will help even the most novice Twitter user when it comes to events.

In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I am not yet 30, but this does not mean anything in terms of my social media prowess. So many people use their age as a reason for not giving Twitter a try, but with the right fundamentals anyone can get what they want from social media. Two years ago, I was not familiar with Twitter at all. I have had to learn from scratch, and most often trial and error is the best teacher.  Age should not be a factor when looking for a social media expert, it should be based on knowledge and expertise.

It may have become a cliché, but the Scouts had it right – always be prepared.

In terms of using Twitter for events, the first thing to consider is preparation.

Create a following. The more people online, the better, but you need to be strategic. Use membership lists to find the appropriate people on Twitter beforehand and share pertinent information to get people involved. Looking for volunteers? Is there a change in schedule? Are there special rates? Without a growing media, the day-of work will not reach everyone it can. Keeping the association members and potential attendees in the loop is top priority.

Your event should have a hashtag (ie: #event2013) and that hashtag should be expressed in multiple sources. Of course, use it as much as possible on Twitter, but also try to get it out in event literature, such as emails to attendees, the event website and program.

Keep the lines of communication open with the host. If you have questions, you need to know who to go to for answers and you really do not want to be responsible for misinformation. Things change and come up out of the blue, so know where to get the most current and accurate information – not just the internet.  If you are doing social media for a client, you need to know what their ideal is. Do they want to see a lot of photos? Do they want a particular message out?

It may seem counter-intuitive, but a “low-tech contingency” is imperative. Technology can be fickle, so some basics need to be accessible regardless of power-shortages, worn-out ink cartridges, or password protected Wi-Fi.

  • Have a hardcopy of the Program printed ahead of time. You can mark up the floor-plan with “not to miss” exhibits; as well as know the schedule, sponsors, and speakers to keep track of. 
  • Compile a list of important Twitter handles. This can include sponsors, keynote speakers and facilitators, exhibitors, and suppliers.  A hardcopy list will prevent mistakes (ie: @GwynMurray can accidentally be attributed to @GwynyddMurray). You cannot always maneuver straight from Twitter, so even the preprogrammed handles from pre-event Tweets may not be right at your fingertips, unless you’ve got a list printed. This is also a great source for ensuring no one gets forgotten, in that you can tick off each necessary box as you go. The less guess-work the better.

Simply speaking, Twitter prep is very important and may take more time in the first place, but it will make the day-of more efficient at any event.

Stay tuned for some additional advice about how to optimize your use of Twitter for events.