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Twitter and the events industry were practically made for one another. The readily-accessible microblogging social network is one of the best places to share information and updates with your attendees, and one of the best platforms for the promotion of your events. As you may be aware, it’s also an incredibly powerful tool for engagement.

Trouble is, not everyone knows how to tap into that last one.

“Twitter is the new social water cooler, but you don’t need to wait until the morning after a big event, show, or game to get the conversation started,” reads an article in Twitter’s Best Practices Guidelines. “Live-tweeting along with an event as it unfolds drives engagement on Twitter and builds buzz.”

That’s great and all, but how exactly do you drive engagement? What’s involved? What exactly should you be tweeting, and how often?

How To Hashtag

If you’re the event organizer, it falls to you to choose a great hashtag for your event – something that’s catchy, easy to remember, relevant, and not prone to being hijacked. For example, the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo typically features the hashtag #CalgaryExpo in its live tweets – but it also goes a little further than that.

Are you tweeting about a guest speaker or celebrity? A particular product, brand, or keynote? Best make sure you include all that in your hashtags or properly tagging each person. It’ll make your tweets much easier to discover, and make attendees that much likelier to engage with you.

Get Your Team Right

You cannot – I repeat, cannot – afford to be understaffed. It’s imperative that you ensure you have enough people on hand to constantly release updates via Twitter – whether you’re an event organizer or simply one of the businesses in attendance. Make sure you have plenty of people on the ground who can share updates with your followers, as well as a few people on-hand to monitor the conversation.

“Go in with a team,” writes Tech Republic’s Erin Carson, citing advice from Gartner analyst Jennifer Polk. “Have multiple people on the ground in order to accurately capture the experience, instead of relying on one person to post, take photos, video, interact with followers, and monitor the conversation. This is where having a command center also comes in handy.”

Remember: Live tweeting Is A Conversation

If there’s one mistake I most frequently see businesses make on Twitter – on any social network, really – it’s failing to understand that social media isn’t a traditional advertising platform. You’re not going to meet with success if you simply talk at your followers. You need to be willing to listen, too. More than any other platform, Twitter is about the conversation.

That’s especially true where live tweeting is concerned.

“If people are actively engaged with your live tweeting and ask questions or make constructive comments, make sure you acknowledge them,” writes Rachel Quin of Social Bro. “If you’re pushed for time, a simple ‘favorite’ will suffice. If somebody’s interaction is particularly interesting/adds something constructive to the conversation, give them a retweet or put a ‘.’ in front of their handle when you respond so that people can see the discussion. Trying to reply to everyone is unrealistic, but the simple act of acknowledgement is enough to keep your audience engaged. Make the most of your tools to keep on top of mentions.”

Spontaneity Wins

As I’ve already said, Twitter’s pretty much about the conversations you have – and real conversations aren’t measured, micro-analyzed, and put out in tiny chunks. They ebb and flow. They’re spontaneous.

By all means, you should be careful with what you tweet, and think before you talk. At the same time, don’t be afraid to go off-script a little. If you see something you think will make a great tweet, share it.

“A good live tweet takes speed, accuracy, context, wit, a strong visual sense, and a good wit,” explains Lance Ulanoff. “The goal of a live tweet is to convey your thoughts as quickly and concisely as possible, while crafting every single tweet for maximum impact. Do not tweet for the sake of tweeting, but tweet often.”

If you want an example of how you can do this – of how you can be spontaneous while at the same time keeping your tweets impactful – look at some of the most successful people on the social network.

“Sometimes, live-tweeting seems like a good spur-of-the-moment idea, especially if it’s a more personal or intimate experience,” reads the Twitter Best Practices document. “When actor and comedian Aziz Ansari (@azizansari) decided to watch the Twilight movie one day, he shared his hilarious observations as they popped into his head.”

Make Sure You Add To The Experience

When Ulanoff said you shouldn’t tweet for the sake of tweeting, what I believe he meant is that your tweets need to actually add something to the experience for your followers. They need to enrich the event people are attending; to offer them something they’re not already a part of. If you’re just tweeting random observations about trash cans or talking about the menu at a food cart, then it’s a safe bet people aren’t going to be terribly interested in what you have to say.

“If you’re live-tweeting an event like a conference or webinar, be sure to add to the experience using quotes, photos, or videos,” says Sprout Social’s Jennifer Beese. “This is especially important for people who can’t actually be in the live audience. According to Twitter, tweets with photos see a 35 percent boost in retweets, while tweets with videos receive a 28 percent increase. Additionally, tweets with quotes, numbers, and hashtags generate increases of 19 percent, 17 percent, and 16 percent, respectively.”

Know Your Audience

Who are you tweeting for, and what are they interested in? Those are two questions you need to answer before the event. Knowing your followers is at the core of any successful social media campaign, especially if live tweeting is involved.

Don’t Bungle Your Quotes

There are few things worse than posting a particularly poignant quote only for your followers to all call you on plagiarism – even if it’s not intentional. You need to make sure you’re accurately quoting any speakers or celebrities you make reference to with your live tweets, and you definitely need to make sure you’re providing proper attribution.

“When you tweet ideas and quotes from speakers, always add their Twitter handles to attribute their authorship,” advises the Sli.do Blog.  “If they’re not on Twitter, simply include their name in the Tweet so you don’t confuse their ideas with yours.”

Don’t Stop After The Event

Last but certainly not least, remember that the conversation doesn’t stop after the event ends. If you have done your job right, you’re going to have plenty of followers and fans looking to keep chatting with you once you have stopped live tweeting. Give them what they want – engage, and you’re certain to benefit.