Social Media: A Time to Tweet

There is nothing more “now” than social media.

In fact, I’d bet that in the past few hours most of you have used a website inviting you to tell people exactly what you’re doing right now. And while the topic of whether or not most people should actually be doing that is fascinating (and oftentimes hilarious), the concept of timeliness is something that bears consideration, well … right now.

Everyone knows that the real-time exposure of social media sites like Twitter make them an invaluable commodity in today’s marketplace, especially when you have an event to promote. The problem lies in the fact that many people don’t know the correct way to use Twitter to promote, cover and summarize the proceedings in a way that is meaningful to their audience. Whether it is an event that your company is sponsoring or simply one you are attending, your knowledge and presence can be assets if you know how to tweet in a timely manner.

To help focus your efforts, here are the steps to successful event Twittering. And as long as you’re prepared and willing to engage, you will see results.

  1. Research
  2. Engage
  3. Promote
  4. Cover
  5. Respond
  6. Recap

Research. This is the “do your homework” portion of our program. Let’s say you work for a hospital that is hosting a continuing education event for nurses. The first thing you need to do is find and follow other people on Twitter who are interested in nursing, hospitals, CEU, etc. The great thing about Twitter is that it’s highly reciprocal, so it’s usually a “follow and ye shall be followed” medium, which is great for community building. [Side note: If you have been lax about following people back, check out WeFollow, a site that will tell you which people are following you who you don’t follow and vice versa.]

Engage. Read, retweet, reach out, and respond. If you’re going to make yourself an integral part of any Twitter community, you can’t just be a spectator. Get involved. Early and often.

Promote. Tell people about your event, but don’t overdo it. Most people are quick to unfollow users who take a spam-like approach to Twitter and post seemingly never-ending notices about the same thing. Use hashtags and make sure your posts all include unique, useful details.

Cover. Right before your event, search for similar hastags to use and create a unique one if it doesn’t already exist for your event. People on Twitter are delightfully willing to start following a new hashtag if they trust the source (which, of course, they will because of all that camaraderie you built back in the research phase!).

Also, you should cover events you attend as conscientiously as you cover those you sponsor. An interested Twitter community loves to get “insider” information, so make sure to use pertinent hashtags while live tweeting for maximum exposure.

Respond. Two-way communication is one of the best things about social media. It’s also one of the hardest. Don’t consider posting information about your event to be a one-time thing; commit to the follow-up and responsiveness your audience has come to expect from successful Twitter users.

Recap. Use your blog, your website or your Facebook page (where you have been simultaneously promoting this event) to hit the high points of the event, post pictures, and thank the appropriate people. A brief, interesting summary on a different platform goes a long way to tie all of the social media channels together.

And there you have it. Now you can tweet real-time events with skill and finesse, something that is increasingly important to any successful business communication platform.