So you have read Zoe’s brilliant post on becoming the social media star player that you had always hoped you would be. Whilst you have planned and are executing “a winning formula” based on research and practice, I want to draw your attention to her last point: “Facebook and Twitter are two different players”. I cannot agree with this point more; by compartmentalising the two social media platforms, you will be onto a winning strategy.
Now every star team has to have an armful of strategies in their playbook and I’m going to tell you about a key one: live-tweeting.
What is it?
Twitter defines it as a verb meaning “to engage on Twitter for a continuous period of time—anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours—with a sequence of focused Tweets.” Your focus can be a live event such as a physical launch event or a virtual event like a Twitter Q&A. Of course, depending on whether it is physical or virtual, dictates whether you will need to be out-in-the-field as it were or safely tucked away in an office.
Why do it?
Do you ever remember playing Sonic the Hedgehog as a child? Well, put yourself in the spiky one’s shoes and try to remember what happened when you broke that television that had stars on the front. Is it all flooding back? Good, so you will remember how it made you go faster and grab more rings. That is what live-tweeting is; a turbo boost to drive engagement.
Even if you are not a fan of NASCAR, you will appreciate this example. A NASCAR race was subject to a dramatic delay due to an explosion on the track; instead of sitting in his car twiddling his thumbs, a NASCAR driver named Brad Keselowski took out his smartphone and did what any 21st century digital dude would do and start tweeting from his privileged position. A long story short: within two hours this driver gained 100,000 followers.
On the different end of the spectrum, O2 UK, during its recent network crash resorted to live-tweeting to stem the backlash and implement crisis management. When a wave of angry tweets came their way, they managed their Twitter account like any good social media team should: try to reply to everyone’s questions, deal with offensive messages in a non-confrontational manner but most importantly, they showed humility.
OK, that’s great for a celebrity or a huge brand, but what about me and my business?
Live-tweeting is essential for creating that holy grail of engaging content: your followers learn that your voice has a unique quality behind it and not only that, but it is authentic. If you need to know one thing about social media, know this: social media marketing is built upon the principle of being honest and frank. For every positive aspect to your business, it will be amplified; the same goes to the negative aspects. By being there, listening and responding up-front, your followers will be happy to continue participating in any future conversations.
How do you do it?
Providing a context is paramount in live-tweeting; think back to when you’ve joined a conversation at the half-way point, if everyone carries on and fails to fill you in on the conversation topic, you feel lost and thus fail to become interested. The same goes for steering conversations off-topic; no-one likes a person who goes off-topic! So, how we get around this is to inform your followers ahead of schedule that you intend to form a Twitter conversation around a specific topic.
- The hash-tag
Enter the hash-tag. Hash-tags are wonderful things, they not only look great and snappy, and they seem to file conversations perfectly too. Inform your followers of your intended hash-tag ahead of time and make sure when you build up anticipation for the event, you attach it to relevant tweets.
- Keep your focus
Your followers will only listen to the conversation in a pedestrian manner if you’re tweeting in the same old way. To really maximise live-tweeting, know what your strength is and use it. Perhaps you are privy to a perspective only an insider can get from an event. What is going on? Who is there? If the event is more like a Q&A session, perhaps you should impart your expert knowledge from within your field of expertise. Most importantly, know your audience and pay attention.
- A picture is worth a thousand… characters
When I said get an insider’s perspective, nothing really encapsulates it like some amazing photos and eye-catching rich media. Photos work really well on Twitter, so even if all you have is a smartphone and not a tablet, the closer to the action they are… the better!
- Tweet frequency
There is no predetermined limit on the amount of tweets you can send in a live-tweeting session. Rather than focus on quantity, think about quality. Tweet when you get the feeling; use your intuition, if something happens then report it or comment on it. If not, then don’t worry. There is no time like the present, so just go with your logic and followers will naturally grow. A great thing about live-tweeting is the power of curation. By curating interesting content, engagement will increase.
For me, Twitter is more about messaging than any other social media platform. The micro-blogging platform is tailor-made for those who can write engaging content in 140 characters or less; yes, a relentless and challenging pursuit, but eyes are on the prizes: followers, replies, mentions, favourites and the gold medals of retweets.
Have you organised or participated in a live-tweeting session? What was your experience like? Leave your comments in the box below.