Learning patterns/A Short Guide to Using Twitter for In-event Engagement
What problem does this solve?
While Twitter is a great platform for communicating and engagement with communities and stakeholders by itself, more often than not, the success of these communications depends on the way in which we use the platform. Creating buzz around an event and promoting it through posters and social media campaigns is a great start. However, for those can't actively be a part of the event, it ends here. While they may spread the word about the event through re-tweets and shout outs, the scope for engagement is limited unless special efforts are undertaken during an event. Thus, this learning problem aims to propose solutions for the problem of engaging with "tweeple" during an event by keeping them in the loop and making them feel like they are a part of the event even though they are not present physically.
What is the solution?
As there is no one size fits all solution to this, it could be tailored to suit the needs of specific communities and events. If you have an existing communication policy, this would be merely a useful pointer to add to it. To begin with, the importance of engaging with communities during an event must be understood by all. While the event is no doubt central and its physical participants the primary target audience, events don't have to contain themselves in that fashion. If we are to become a more inclusive community, we need to ensure that accessibility gaps are bridged everywhere. Take for example the case of a selected participant being unable to attend an event, an effort like this would allow them to feel important, welcome and encouraged.
In general, it is good to announce a particular hash-tag along with the promotional content for the event. A hash-tag on Twitter enables people to "trend" the event on social media. This allows for the hash-tag to be unique and also serves the functional purpose of counting how many tweets have used that particular hash-tag. Organizers and participants at the event could use this hash-tag during the event for letting the world know what they are learning at the event or experiencing. It could be a simple tweet about the tool or gadget being taught to a photo of the lunch or dinner at the event.
If you are in-charge of communications at the event, then live-tweeting and live-recording could be a great way to engage people. Some times, re-tweets and replies ask questions that can be answered by resource persons at the event. Or those who are unable to join the event could give suggestions as to the topic that could potentially be discussed. While live-recording, ensure the focus is on the resource person and the session being conducted her/ him. This is so that remote participants may learn. Additionally, there is minimal distraction to those at the event. It is essential that one checks with the resource person if she/ he is comfortable with being recorded.
Making an announcement to those at the event to tweet about the event using that hash-tag without interrupting the session itself is a great way for participants to involve themselves in engagement. Make sure these announcements are made at the start of the session or during breaks.
Things to consider
- The hashtag needs to be small, simple and easy to type.
- Do a simple background check to see that the hash-tag hasn't previously been used by using websites like Hashatit and Keyhole.
- Make sure not to enforce social media engagement. Many people are uncomfortable with the use of social media and one needs to be aware of it.
- Ensure that the buzz being created doesn't distract people at the event.
- When tagging "influencers" for re-tweet, ensure it is in the form of a reply and not in the original tweet itself. This may be misconstrued as a quote.
- Ask people if they would like to be photographed before taking photos or live-recording of the session. Extra care needs to be taken during Periscope as those who want to be in photo and those who do not may be seated at close quarters.