Have you ever been to an event where you've been encouraged to tweet with a specific hashtag? Maybe it was a business conference, presidential debate or the season premiere of your favorite television show. If you've done so, you've live tweeted before.
Live tweeting is the narration and distribution of useful information to an audience about an event via a social platform, wrote Brit McGinnis in her book "Hash The Tag: The Complete Beginner's Guide To Live Tweeting" (Amazon Digital Services, 2016).
"Live tweeting is just a natural extension of Twitter group chats, wherein people come together on Twitter (or any live content platform) and talk about the same thing for a predetermined amount of time," McGinnis said.
Consider it real-time content marketing via social media. McGinnis works as a social media consultant for small businesses and nonprofits, including the Portland Oregon Women's Film Festival (POW Fest). She's frequently hired to cover and live tweet film events, lectures and industry panels.
"Live tweeting takes the urge to communicate with others and combines live reporting with social media copywriting — something I cultivated as a journalism student in college," McGinnis explained. [See Related Story: Twitter for Business: Everything You Need to Know]
Live tweeting to your brand's advantage
Businesses can take advantage of live tweeting to market events or even to report on "day-in-the-life" interactions from customers — with their permission, of course. The most important component, the event's hashtag, helps users find content from every part of the conversation as well as from those just coming into the conversation to join. For instance, anyone following this year's POW Fest can search #POWFest2016 to find relevant content.
Beyond that, it all comes down to narration and fostering a company's brand through its voice on social media, said McGinnis. That voice should be genuine and accessible, much like a customer service representative.
Additionally, McGinnis noted that small businesses can become a news source for their customers over time. For instance, McGinnis promoted the recent release of "Hash The Tag" by live tweeting seven movies in seven days on her personal Twitter account. She self-published four other e-books on Amazon and Smashwords, so she's developed a following from her previous titles.
Live tweeting isn't exclusive to the events a specific business organizes, either. If coverage rules permit, small businesses can easily set themselves apart by covering events pertaining to their industry that bigger companies may not have the time or staff to cover, McGinnis said.
"I'm still waiting for a tiny game development company to live tweet the lectures at E3 or the Game Developers Conference," she added.
Once you've mastered the basics of live tweeting, you can branch out into other forms of live coverage. Fundamentally, it's all about posting real-time content as an event happens. Consider using a social management platform like Hootsuite to post content across different platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.
Visual posts that include multimedia content can also make your live tweets stand out. According to the Social Media Examiner, posts with photos generate higher audience engagement. Think about Facebook Live, Periscope, Twitch and other streaming tools that go beyond photos and prerecorded videos.
"Live tweeting is easy to learn, but the biggest roadblock is not being afraid to be unprofessional," McGinnis said. "Just let loose, and magic will happen."