How to: Live-Tweet a Non-Profit Event

(Originally posted on Sisarina as part of our February blog series.)

If you are holding an event — or attending some else’s — live-tweeting is a great way to broadcast the content to those who are not in attendance. This can extend your social reach, deliver valuable content to your community, and help you attract new followers. While livetweeting is a simple and cost-effective way of reaching a large amount of people, there are several things you should do before, during, and after the event to make the most of the opportunity.

Prior:

Hashtag: About a week prior, establish a hashtag for your event. If you are an attendee, be sure to ask organizers if they have an event hashtag. Tagging your tweets will help readers to follow all the comments and thoughts coming out of the event. Schedule tweets (we suggest a few per day) prior to the event alerting people to the hashtag and inviting them to follow along at the designated time.

Note Your Followers: Write down how many followers you have prior to the event. This will help you track any bump in number of followers you may get from your livetweeting.

Check Your Tools: The most important tool for liveweeting is Internet access. Be sure that your venue has internet access. Don’t assume that they do or you might have done all this work for nothing. You’ll want to be simultaneously posting and monitoring, which is much easier to do on a laptop than on a mobile phone.

During:

Get Settled: At the event, look for a seat where you will not be disturbing the speakers or others around you by typing. If you can grab a seat near an electrical outlet, that’s even better. Nothing cramps your style more than a dead battery! As the event starts, send one last tweet to your followers saying what you will be livetweeting about for the next few hours.

Attendee Tweeting: Ask the host to announce the hashtag and encourage attendees to tag any tweets they send. You should also post the hashtag on signs around the room for easy visibility.

What to Tweet: If your event has multiple speakers, send a tweet prior to each new speaker stating their name, title, and association. This way, you can simply include the speaker’s initials in following tweets and save yourself precious character space while still designating the originator of the content.

As you listen to the presentations, tweet any sound bites, facts, etc that you think are relevant to your audience. Have fun with it—bring a behind-the-scenes viewpoint to your tweets.

How can you sum up a thousand words into 140 characters? Pictures! Tweet out photos so followers have a mental idea of what’s going on at the event (Twitpic is an easy, free tool for this).

Solicit Questions: Throughout the event, send tweets encouraging followers to ask you questions that you can then relay to the speaker (if that’s an option).

Listen: Monitor the hashtag during the event to see what conversations are going on. Be sure to also check any responses to your tweets. If you have the space and resources, it can be helpful to set up a separate screen, or designate an additional livetweeter as a ‘listener.’ This will keep you from constantly jumping back and forth and will allow you to focus solely on what the speakers are saying.

After:

Thank You: After the event, send a quick ‘thanks for listening- hope you learned as much about the topic as we did’ message to your audience.

Additional Resources: If the powerpoints or other materials are available, tweet out the location that users can find these materials.

Track Your Reach: Create a reach report that includes how many new followers you gained, how many @mentions you received, and how many retweets you got. This will help to quantify your livetweeting success.

What are we missing? Do you have other livetweeting tips to share? Tell us in the comments.