How To Live-Tweet an Event: Part 3 - Editorial Calendar & Cheat Sheet

This is part 3 in an ongoing series on Live-Tweeting Events. Check out Part 2 - Developing a content plan. Or see the bottom of this post for the full 5-part series.

So now that you have figured out why you're live tweeting and created a content plan, it's time to get busy doing the prep work for the big day. In this installment, we'll look at creating an Editorial Calendar and cheat sheet.

Pre-writing

If you're just tweeting administrative and logistical info, you may just need a single live-Tweeter and can pre-write a lot of the content such as:
"The break starts now and runs for 20 minutes; sessions will resume at 10:40 am in the conference room."
Note: Some of this information will be repeated throughout your event, so pre-writing can reduce Tweeters' effort on the day of the event. It can also ensure that the information is accurate and consistent.
Caution: is to ensure that your live tweeter double checks the accuracy of any content before hitting send; if the break time is shorter or longer than originally planned, this needs to be updated accordingly. This is where it's important to have a constant flow of communication between the event coordinator and the live tweeter.

Content length

Controlling tweet length on the fly can be difficult. More often than not, capturing the points in a presentation is difficult in 140 character chunks. However, the optimal length of a tweet is no longer than 114 characters, to allow for retweeting without editing. While content tweets can go longer, promotional or other important tweets should be kept within the 114 character constraint in order to optimize the potential for unedited retweets.

Spontaneous Research

The best live-tweeters seem to have multiple sets of hands: not only do they tweet the content coming out of the presentation, but they supply links to YouTube videos shown at the event, articles mentioned in passing by speakers, links to Wikipedia articles for additional information on topics... they add extra value to the content being presented.

Not all events need this level of detail but for workshops and other learning-focused sessions (vs. general interest) it can be very valuable, especially if you plan to capture the Tweet stream in a content archive for future use.

Expectation setting is key if you have people live tweeting on your behalf. Before the day of your event, talk about your expectations for the Tweet stream:
  • Are you looking for a verbatim representation of the session?
  • Are you looking for added value?
  • Is your live-tweeter experienced enough or knowledgeable enough about the subject matter to provide this added context?
If you're working with someone who is not experienced in delivering the type of content stream you're looking for, it might be helpful to have two tweeters working the same sessions: one to capture the content and the other to do all the sidebar work. This could reduce the workload of the main tweeter and provide a significant amount of value to your backchannel and offsite audience.

Building an editorial calendar and a cheat sheet

This is my secret weapon.
Before every event I live-tweet, I build a spreadsheet and share it with the event organizer and/or whomever is managing the social feeds with me. It contains two types of draft content:

  1. complete tweets with hashtags that are to be scheduled in advanced, and
  2. snippets of info I will need to tweet at the event.
1. Scheduled content
If the scheduled tweets are to be tweeted multiple times in advance of the event, I enter each iteration in the spreadsheet along with the time and date they are to be scheduled. This is especially important if I am sharing access to the account, to keep the other tweeters informed of the scheduled content.
Note: As a spam prevention mechanism, Twitter (and some of the Twitter apps) won't accept repeat tweets. If you need to repeat a message a few times in advance of your event, you'll need to tweak the content a bit each time to make sure it goes through. (The modification can be as little as a single character.)
I like to do all this work in my spreadsheet and then copy/paste the completed tweets into a Twitter app for scheduling. This gives me the opportunity to review content to make sure all the key messages are getting covered, and I'm not preparing to tweet the same messages over and over again.

2. Prepared event content
On another tab in the spreadsheet, I prepare content for live-tweeting. This one contains multiple tweets about event logistics and about each session including information about the presenter such as:
  • name, 
  • company, 
  • a link to their website, 
  • a link to their photo, 
  • the title of the session and 
  • if they have relevant articles or content, a link to that as well. 
Basically any information I can glean from the organizers and the Internet that is relevant to the session. The content is organized according to the session agenda and is clearly labelled in case they move sessions around on the fly (which has happened to me more than once. Thankfully my spreadsheet saved me.)

This becomes the most useful Tweeting tool during the event. As the speaker is getting set up, some of that canned information can go out, whether about the speaker and session, or even about event sponsors or logistics. If there is a lull in the presentation or a pause for video, etc. the remaining content comes in handy to fill in the "dead air". (Spontaneous research comes in handy here too.)

Again, the file can be shared among all the event organizers and anyone operating the social media accounts to ensure consistency in messaging, and also to allow for updates during the event. For example, if someone takes a photo of a speaker outside of their session, a link to the file can be added to the spreadsheet to allow the live-tweeter to share it.

Having this kind of content pre-written reduces the workload of the live-tweeter on-site and there are fewer opportunities to misspell a URL - or worse yet - a sponsor or speaker name. Events are usually chaotic affairs from a logistical perspective: from technical glitches to lags in the schedule.

Preparing as much content in advance still allows for real-time content generation and frees live-tweeters to keep on top of what's going on at the event, instead of scrambling for information. And the level of preparedness shows: it can heighten the perceived professionalism of even the smallest local event.

A note about getting the word out... tastefully:

Remember last time when I told you that it is never, ever ok to hijack a hashtag? The last thing you want to do is alienate your audience before your event even starts! Well, you might be wondering how you should promote your event in advance of the big day. Here are some ways you can tastefully reach out to your target audiences without being invasive or spammy:
  • Tweet a few promotional messages about your event in the days/ weeks prior, using both your event hashtag and the community hashtag.
  • Inform the community that you will be live tweeting and encourage them to watch your hashtag or Twitter account(s) on the day of the event.
  • If you are new to the community, be respectful of the other conversations that are already ongoing.
  • Find a community member who can advocate for you and your event, either by retweeting or even writing about you. Endorsement is incredibly helpful in breaking into new communities.
  • Don't randomly respond to tweets and promote your event. Tweeting: "That's interesting, @soAndso! Join us for our irrelevant thing on this day Info: [website]!!!" could get you reported as spam.
  • Be mindful, relevant and infrequent.
Now that your audience is interested and you have your content ready to go (or at least planned!), next time, we'll tackle the main event: How to live-tweet the action as it unfolds!


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How To Live-Tweet an Event: The Five-Part Series

  1. Defining Success
  2. Creating your content plan 
  3. Establishing your editorial calendar and building your cheat sheet (this one)
  4. Showtime: What to do on the big day
  5. Measurement and archiving

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