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How to Live Tweet: An Overview

The first week of May, I had the privilege of attending the Office Depot Foundation’s Weekend In Boca VII Civil Society Leadership Symposium alongside two fellow GuideStar colleagues-- Lindsay Nichols, marketing and communications senior director, and Debra Snider, vice president of operations. This event, hosted by the Office Depot Foundation, “gives nonprofit professionals, board members and volunteers an all-too-rare opportunity to get out of the office and spend time learning about best practices and timely strategies for innovation, collaboration and sustainability.” Nearly 500 people attended this conference, which was full of inspiring speeches, exciting announcements, and of course, the annual Listen Learn Car Awards Ceremony.

Courtney Cherico at the Office Depot Foundation's Listen Learn Care Awards

This was the first professional conference I attended as a full-time GuideStar employee. Throughout the weekend, my primary responsibility was to live tweet under GuideStar’s Twitter account, @GuideStarUSA throughout the event, using the #ODFWIB hashtag. In this post, I will give an overview of what live tweeting is, complete with my top five tips to ensure a successful live tweeting experience for your nonprofit.

For those who are curious, live tweeting is when attendees of an event all tweet quotes, links, and thoughts about the event, including the event’s pre-selected hashtag in each tweet. (This is important! You must include the conference’s predetermined hashtag in every sing tweet you publish.) Live tweeting is a modern way to engage in conversation with fellow attendees of the conference, and helps those who were unable to attend follow along in real-time as the conference progresses. Think of live tweeting as virtual networking.

Here are 5 tips to help you successfully live tweet an event:

1) Plan tweets accordingly

The number of live tweets you should send for events depends on several factors—your nonprofit’s affiliation to the event, the popularity of the event, and how skilled you are at being able to quickly curate quality content. At least two tweets per speaker is a good starting goal.

If a speaker is from your nonprofit, increase the number of original-content tweets dramatically. When your nonprofit is the speaker, followers are looking to your account as the primary source of information. Use this to your advantage! Include links to your website, how to donate to your nonprofit, and any other vital information that donors or fellow professionals need to know about your nonprofit.

2) Engage, engage, engage

Do not tweet in a vacuum—be sure to constantly check the conference hashtag’s newsfeed to see if someone has already tweeted your thoughts. If so, retweet and save your fingers the work! Retweet as many different accounts as possible—the goal of virtual engagement is to promote and support fellow professionals in the sector. If your nonprofit has a large number of twitter followers, remember the power that comes with this. A retweet from your account can significantly boost followers of lesser-known accounts.

Side note: When live tweeting a speaker, check to see if that speaker has a twitter handle—speakers need to be properly attributed when possible!

3) Check your notifications

If your live tweeting is successful, new people will constantly follow you, retweet and “favorite” your tweets. Remember that Twitter is virtual networking. If possible, follow back every new follower you receive as quickly as possible. This gesture takes very little time, but makes a big impact in your nonprofit’s reputation.

People love to know there is a person behind the twitter account, and a follow-back gives people this reminder. Followers will receive a “rush” when they see the notification that your nonprofit is now following them. This is how communities are established and virtual friendships begin! Bonus points if you have time to retweet or favorite their tweets at least once.

4) Vary your content

When followers scroll through your timeline, they do not want to see multiple tweets in the exact same format. Mix it up! Tweet quotes from presentations, images of PowerPoints, explanations of inside jokes, helpful links and resources, your nonprofits’ view/opinion on subjects…. the options are endless. Just remember to include the event’s hashtag in each and every tweet you publish!

Similarly, Twitter is not the only social media platform you should update! Cross-post from your Instagram and Facebook accounts once or twice that day to ensure followers are aware of the multiple platforms your nonprofit is using.

5) Power up

All-day conferences are as draining on your battery as they are on your body. In order to ensure successful live tweeting, you will need to have a full cell phone battery all day long. Plan ahead to make sure your phone, tablet, or laptop will not run out of juice in the middle of a great speech’s quote-worthy moment! Ask the hotel or conference venue for an extra power strip for your table, or consider investing in an external battery for your cell phone, which comes as an attachment or as a phone case. Bonus: when everyone else’s phone is dead and you’re still live tweeting, followers will turn to your account for their primary source of news.

Apply these five techniques to your next live tweeting event, and let us know how it goes. Happy Tweeting!

What are your tips for successfully live tweeting at a conference? Share in the comments below!

Courtney Cherico is the communications coordinator at GuideStar. She manages their many social media channels, including this blog. Courtney is a graduate from the University of Mary Washington, where she majored in English with a Creative Writing Concentration. In her spare time, she’s on the constant search for great new food, books, and music. You can reach Courtney at Follow her on Twitter at @courtneycherico.

Topics: Nonprofit Leadership and Practice