I love Twitter. No other social media platform grants you immediate access to such timely news and updates. Twitter also uses hashtags, words you see in Twitter with the '#' in front, to help connect you to the content that matters most by grouping tweets that have a particular hashtags. Examples of some of my favorite hashtags include #lgbt, #gay, and now #cc11 and #marryland.
If you're already on Twitter most of these are probably familiar to you, with the exception of possibly #cc11 and #marryland. #Cc11 is the Twitter hashtag that was predominately used at the recent Creating Change conference. #Marryland is the hashtag being used for the marriage equality hearings in Maryland. I didn't attend the Creating Change Conference, nor the Maryland marriage hearings, in person, but I certainly followed along with what was being said via Twitter.
Along with timely updates, live tweeting is another reason I love Twitter. As long as people are tweeting from events and conferences, you can attend just about anything. This isn't to say that you get the full experience via Twitter because you certainly don't, but Twitter allows you to see what's being discussed and shared at these conferences as long as they are live tweeted.
Live tweeting isn't easy but it's something that we in the LGBT community need to do more of if we want to reach and engage a broader audience. To help us enhance our live Tweeting, I wanted to offer five tips that have helped me when I've participated in live tweeting in other events.
1. Live Tweet Often
This is the most difficult to do so I put it first on the list. In order to reap the benefits of live tweeting, you must tweet regularly. I saw a number of people who were live tweeting at #CC11 (I'll be referring to the Creating Change conference as #CC11 for the remainder of this post), but who quickly lost momentum in their tweeting as the event progressed.
There are a number of factors that could have contributed to this diminished tweeting, including poor Wi-Fi connection at the hotel, difficulty tweeting from a smart phone, or an enhanced interest by the live tweeter to listen to the speaker rather than tweet out what they are hearing. Regardless, in order to keep the conversation going, you must always try to tweet as much as possible.
2. It's Okay to Throw In Humor
As I was penning this blog, I was following the marriage equality hearings (#sb116) in Maryland via hashtag #marryland. (Cute pun, huh?
I heard that it was invented by Chris Geidner and that he's the go-to guy for Twitter hashtags. Correction: I was informed by Equality Maryland that this hashtag was created by the Communications Manager @cr8progess. Perhaps both @cr8progess and Chris Geidner had a stroke of genius at the same time... either way, I wanted to be fair and post a correction with this additional information.)
Anyway, Equality Maryland (@EqualityMD) was leading the charge on Twitter, providing a tweet of what was unfolding every minute; at least that's what it felt like. I can't say for certain, but I think it's likely that they had two live tweeters handling all the official tweets from the @equalityMD account. Or the person who was tweeting was just really good.
What I loved most about @EqualityMD's tweets is that they were oftentimes funny. Instead of just sending out tweets on the anti-gay remarks, @EqualityMD took the time to take the offensive remarks and offer side humor when sharing via Twitter. They offered a number of funny retorts. Below are a few of my favorite.
3. Don't Live Tweet from Smart Phones
I cringe when I see people tweet from smart phones but I know that many times this is unavoidable. Tweeting from smart phones lends itself to painful thumbs and a slew of misspelled words. As many of us learned at one of the seminars at the Creating Change conference, misspelled tweets don't get retweeted. Also, tweeting from a smart phone makes it difficult to simultaneously scour the Internet for helpful links that you may want to include in your tweet.
4. Contribute to the Conversation
It's hard to feel that live tweeting is doing anything to enhance the conversation when no one is participating in the conversation. That's why it's important for live tweeters to take a moment to ask their Twitter audience questions. A number of Creating Change tweeters did, in fact, do this. Some tweeted out questions that pertained to the breakout group that they were participating in. If someone is tweeting out highlights from a conference or live event but no one is responding, then it's hard to want to keep the tweeting up.
5. Be Cheat Tweet Ready
Cheat Tweets are an excellent way to be a step ahead on your tweets. What do I mean by Cheat Tweet?
Cheat Tweets are pre-created tweets that I have typed out and have available on Word doc or other text holding program. Examples of cheat tweets for an event that Bilerico would host include: "@bilercoproject Thanks for tweeting. Be sure to see #bilericorules to follow the conversation" or possibly "@bilericoproject Thanks for joining the conversation. Use #bilericorules in your tweet to connect w/ other Bilerico fans."
Maybe these examples are silly, but I think you get the idea. I use cheat tweets as filler while I'm compiling the content for my next informative tweet and also to ensure that new followers know who's spearheading the Twitter conversation.
That's it! These are my five tips for live tweeting. I'm sure there are many more. Have you led or participated in a live tweet event before? What other live tweeting tips would you recommend?
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