How To Live-Tweet an Event: Part 5 - Outcomes and Measurement

This is part 5 in an ongoing series on Live-Tweeting Events. Check out Part 4 - Showtime!. Or see the bottom of this post for the full 5-part series.

Your event is over.

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! You did it! As a frequent event organizer, myself, I know what you just went through and you should take a moment and relish your success.

Ok, now there's still some work to do. Here's a look at some post-event activities and some insight into how to measure the success of live-tweeting events.

Post-Event Activities

Now that your event is over, there are some logistical/ archival activities that will help you keep track of all the conversation and engagement that happened during your event:

  • Capture your event tweetstream in a Storify: this is essentially a list of all the tweets that happened on your event hashtag during the event. You can select your start time and dates and save all the tweets as a collection. There are several settings that will allow you to sort and remove tweets that you don't want to capture (e.g. if the same tweet gets a significant number of retweets, you can remove the retweets from the archive). Check the settings though; there might be limits to the number of tweets or dates it will capture. For some multi-day events, I've generated a Storify for each day in order to prevent from hitting any limits.
  • Publish and share your archive: promote it via Twitter using the event hashtag. Have your live-tweeters, sponsors, partners, etc. promote it as well. 
  • Embed the archive into a wrap-up post or event-related article on your website, and share that as well, to keep the conversation going. This is also great way to inform participants (both live and online) about upcoming events.
Now that you've successfully completed your event communications, it's time to measure success!

Measurement: Where to Start

Remember back in Part 1: Defining Success where you established your outcomes and what success looks like? You determined your goals for live-tweeting your event and decided on the purpose and outcomes of putting all this effort into social media. You need to go back to those and evaluate your event success against those original metrics. You can check out tools like Hash Tracking or Twitter Counter for some basic metrics, and your URL shortener for click-through metrics.

But first, a note on vanity metrics and why you should stay away from them.

Measurement: Where NOT to start

First of all, let's talk about what NOT to measure (or at least how to make it meaningful).


I have ranted about this before at length, so head on over to the full post for all the why, but here are the highlights on why you shoudn't report on impressions:
Impressions is calculated as the sum of followers across all people participating in the chat.

The sum is a lie.
In social media, just HAVING followers does NOT guarantee that they will SEE your tweets. Just for fun, let's say on average that 10% of your tweeps are online at any given moment.

Now let's imagine that these 10% are on Twitter when you live-tweeted your event. How many of them were paying attention to you and your Tweets? Some were multitasking, some were chatting, some were following lists or hashtags and not checking their Home feed, and some follow too many people to see every tweet that their tweeps send out.

So, how many do you think actually saw your tweets, of this 10%? Half? If you're really lucky. Or some sort of celebrity whose tweets are sought out by the general public. But let's assume you're not @ladygaga.

Here's some quick math to prove the point:
Impressions for the event would = 5% of the sum of followers across all people participating in the event. If we say 50 participants with an average of 200 followers apiece, your Impressions just went from:

(50 x 200) = 10,000
(50 x 200 x 0.05) = 500
Big difference, eh? And honestly, you will never know how many people you truly reached; just the number you had the potential to reach.

So a more accurate metric to report on would be Potential Impressions = 10,000.

Reality Check on Social Media Measurement 

Chances are, your reach isn't as good as it looks on paper.
But then again, neither is anyone else's.

If you can figure out your true reach, you'll be far ahead of the game; because once you know your true numbers, you will be able to see whether your efforts are having any real impact on your target audiences. And you will be able to course correct where required. In the end, being able to say
"we had # participants, # tweets, # click-throughs on our links resulting in # videos watched/ page views/ downloads/ subscriptions during last night's chat and over the following weeks saw a #% increase in our website traffic"
is a lot more meaningful than:
"we had 10,000 impressions but we don't know for sure and we aren't sure if it had any impact in the weeks following the event."

Meaningful Metrics: The List

Now that the vanity metrics elephant is out of the room, what should you measure? Here's a list of meaningful metrics that can help you gauge the actual success of your event:
  • Instead of reporting Impressions, you can report POTENTIAL IMPRESSIONS. Which demonstrates that you realize this is a crap shoot and unlike page views, there is no way to establish how many people really saw ANY of the Tweets in your chat stream.
  • Report REACH: how many people participated in the event stream, whether actively (by, you know, tweeting) or passively (by retweeting or responding to a participant, but not directly participating in the chat). Consider:
    • @ mentions
    • DM replies
    • retweets
    • number of times the hashtag was used pre-event, during the event and post-event
    • change in number of followers to event-related Twitter account(s) (i.e. different pre- and post-event)
  • Report UNIQUE REFERENCES: the number of times you, your brand, your event, your event topic, your discussions were mentioned online during the period of the event and during the period immediately after the event. If anything, that is a much better indication of whether your chat and the discussed topics had any traction whatsoever. Kind of like doing unaided recall for TV ads.
    • Keyword metrics for: you, your brand, your event name (and possible variants), your event topic, your speakers, etc. for the periods pre-event, during the event and post-event. (This is a goldmine of information)
    • These numbers can be accessed by searching Twitter or using other social media monitoring tools such as Radian6.
  • Report ACTIONS: What did people do as a result of seeing your Tweets? That is:
    • how many actions did people take as a result of the tweet stream? 
    • How many links did they click from the event Tweets? 
    • How many referrers came to your site from Twitter during and after the event?
    • How many people followed up by email or downloaded something from your site or watched a video or listened to a podcast as a result of the event? (Note: Referral stats from your web analytics + goal completion stats will give you this number.)
    • How many people viewed your event Twitter archive?

A Final Word on Metrics

Ultimately, you can choose to measure whatever you want; to whatever level of detail you choose. You don't need to be an analytics genius to get good metrics, nor do you need to be one to understand them. There are plenty of tools that can help you calculate meaningful measures of success, and many that trade in snake oil and vanity metrics. Just search "social media measurement tools" and check the lists of tools from sites like Mashable, Ragan, Marketing Profs, and other recognized sites.

The most important criteria for whatever metrics you do choose to analyse is that they are a true measure of the goals you set out to achieve in the first place. Because you had a goal in mind when you started, and whether or not you achieved that goal, you put a lot of effort into live-tweeting your event and you owe yourself an accurate picture of the results.

Coming soon! How-To Live-Tweet an Event eBook

If you enjoyed this series, I will be bundling it into a handy eBook so you can have it at your fingertips whenever you are planning to live-tweet an event. It will be free and licensed with Creative Commons so you can use it, re-use it, modify it for your own use, build on it, share it, and generally grow the concepts (with proper attribution). Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the announcement.

Meantime, if you have comments, additions, suggestions, questions, etc. please drop me a line at spydergrrl [at] gmail [dot] com, tweet me or post a comment below. I hope you found this to be a useful resource!


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
  4. Showtime: What to do on the big day
  5. Measurement and archiving (this one)