By Jessica Bennett
Why is watching a major event like the Super Bowl or Grammys so much better with your friends?
It’s because we crave connection. The event itself is only half the amusement—the jokes, opinions, and endless Queen Bey vs. Rihanna debate among your friends are what add that lasting polish to the experience. In our interconnected world, we no longer need to be in the same room with our friends to connect over an event; in fact, our friends don’t even have to be people. They can be companies.
Live tweeting an event is a stellar way for your company to connect with your true fans, make new friends, showcase your expertise, and ride the wave of a popular (and relevant) hashtag to great heights of visibility. Companies with a focused Twitter marketing plan can occasionally move quickly enough to hit that perfect sweet spot during an event, as Oreo did with its now famous “You Can Still Dunk In The Dark” tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl. (You might remember the lights clocking out for over a half hour during the Ravens vs 49ers matchup.)
However, the waters of Twitter are perilous, and even some of the savviest social media sailors have been bitten by a poorly thought-out tweet. DiGiorno Pizza—practically worshipped as a Twitter deity for its relevant and sassy tweets—lost some of its celestial glow when it co-opted the hashtag #WhyIStayed and turned it into a pizza joke, without realizing it was being used to discuss domestic violence.
Tweeting live events is undeniably tricky, but you don’t need to cross your fingers and say a little prayer to the fickle social media gods every time you send a tweet into the world. A smart live tweeting marketing strategy can make your company the belle of your ball.
Tip #1: Make Twitter Your BFF
Your nieces and nephews were probably tweeting up a storm before they even took their first steps, but for those of us who grew up when phones were connected to walls, Twitter is something we have to learn.
The citizens of the Twitterverse speak in 140-character poems filled with strange hieroglyphs like @ and #. It’s not just what they say, but how they say it. This is a land of the Millennials and is therefore filled with memes, meta-humor, and commentary on someone else’s commentary on Iggy Azalea’s latest tweet.
Twitter citizens are quick to spot newcomers, especially those who don’t “talk the talk.” Before you even think about diving into live tweeting, you need to make sure you make Twitter your best friend and are comfortable with the basics, including hashtags, twitter handles, character counts, shortened URLs, and retweet culture.
Tip #2: Define Your Twitter Persona/Brand Voice
You wouldn’t advertise to senior citizens the same way you would advertise to new mothers—even if you are selling the same product, right? Your company’s voice should shift according to the norms of each social media platform.
Twitter citizens tend to appreciate humor. @OldSpice is one of the best in the biz. However, not every company needs to be an @OldSpice or @TacoBell or @DosEquis. The key is to figure out your Twitter voice and then stay true to it. You won’t see @Charmin get quite as weird as @OldSpice, but the brand still manages to amuse its family-friendly audiences with cute potty jokes that don’t stink.
Tip #3: Listen to Your Audience
Before you start trumpeting your knowledge out to the world, engage in social media listening. Figure out who your Twitter audience is (or who you want them to be) and then look for the topics, news, and events that catch their interests.
Famed marketing agency Resource explained their thinking behind a campaign for client DiGiorno: “DiGorno wanted to extend their reach to new audiences and be part of the football conversation throughout the NFL season ... So we took that objective, thought about where guys were getting together to really follow and participate in the NFL season, and we recommended Fantasy Football as a smart place to ‘play’.” Thus was born the wildly popular #DiGiorNOYOUDIDNT.
One great way to understand your current followers is to engage in social media listening. You can do this by studying your Twitter analytics using programs like Salesforce’s robust Social Studio.
Tip #4: Pick an Event
You are ready to set sail in the stormy Twitter seas, but where are you going to try out all of your awesome new Twitter skills? Live tweeting requires an event, and that perfect event will depend on the interests of your customers.
If you are a B2B business, consider live tweeting the big industry conference of the year. Do your fans love music? Buy a ticket to Coachella and don’t forget your phone charger and sunscreen. Kathleen Garvin, an editor of The Penny Hoarder blog, decided to live tweet a day when Taco Bell gave out free breakfast burritos. “Our readers love free everything,” she wrote, “so we decided to embark on our first-ever live-tweet session.”
Twitterverse citizens need constant infusions of pop culture to live, so any major event can be a reason to tweet. Some examples include sports events, awards shows, concerts, The Sound of Music Live consumer conferences, holiday celebrations, grand openings, and more. Take a look at the calendar and see what relevant events are coming up. However, don’t pick something that’s happening tomorrow. You’ll want time to prepare.
Tip #5: Assign Team Members
Those tweets won’t write themselves. Take a look at your team (or look in the mirror if you’re a one-person crew) and assign someone to be in charge of your social media listening and live tweeting.
Ideally, this is someone who already has an understanding of Twitter and the confidence to push the envelope—combined with the ability to keep that envelope right inside your pre-determined boundary lines. Erin Carson of TechRepublic suggests that companies “have multiple people on the ground in order to accurately capture the experience, instead of relying on one person to post, take photos, video, interact with followers, and monitor the conversation.”
Tip #6: Know Your Hashtags and Twitter Handles
You don’t have to have a Kim Kardashian-level Twitter following to get a little Twitter love (aka visibility). Play with hashtags and Twitter handles effectively. If you pick an event to live tweet that speaks to your core customers, you can bet that many of them will be following the event’s hashtag. Make sure you know what the official event hashtag is before the event and use it in all of your event tweets. If your tweets are mini-masterpieces, others, including the event coordinators, may retweet you.
The same goes for Twitter handles. Figure out the Twitter handles of the event’s main headliners before the event so you can have them handy for on-the-spot tweets. This could include people like keynote speakers at major conferences (perfect for “tweetable takeaways”), athletes at a sporting event, and major celebs at an awards show. A Twitter user can see all of the tweets that mention his or her handle. You may get in front of Kim Kardashian’s Twitter followers after all, especially if she retweets you.
Tip #7: Arm Yourself with Pre-Made Tweets
Don’t get caught empty handed in the middle of your live tweet campaign! Follow the Twitter wizards and develop tweets in advance, or have templates ready that you can quickly tailor as things unfold. This will take some of the pressure off to constantly come up with tweets on the spot and will also give you content to put in your feed during slow times.
For example, create a graphic of the conference’s keynote speaker and keep a space blank. During their address, add the best quotes to the graphic and tweet them out as tweetable takeaways. Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud is one of many tools that lets you pre-populate and schedule tweets so you can look like a tireless tweeting machine, even though your true secret is good old preparation!
Tip #8: Stay Limber
Of course, the whole point of live tweeting is to broadcast the action as it unfolds, so prepare yourself to stay limber and to jump on opportunities. Arby’s did just that when Pharrell and his notorious hat made their appearance at the 2014 Grammys. Likewise, DiGiorno added a little levity to an otherwise cringe-worthy 2014 Super Bowl blowout by the Seattle Seahawks with this famous tweet.
Tip #9: Have a Contingency Plan
The Twitter sharks are always lurking in the water. Despite your best efforts, gaffs happen and even seemingly innocent tweets may not get the love and respect that they deserve. McDonald’s was one of the first companies to learn this hard lesson when its well-meaning #McDStories hashtag was hijacked by commenters sharing #McDHorrorStories.
You can’t always outswim the sharks, but having a contingency plan in place will allow you to quickly and decisively act. This may mean giving your assigned tweeter(s) the green light to respond to upset customers, (@DeltaAssist is famous for its highly responsive customer service Twitter team) or to issue an all-points bulletin apology as DiGorno did after the #WhyIStayed hashtag misstep.
Of course, you have to know that a disaster is happening before you can appropriately respond. Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud makes social media monitoring easy, allowing you to quickly pick up on spikes in mentions, both positive and negative.
Bonus Twitter Tip: Have Fun
All this talk of Twitter sharks, DiGiorno disasters, and #McDHorrorStories may have you nervous about giving live tweeting a shot, but keep your head up. Remember that your goal on Twitter is to reach your wonderful and supportive tribe. When the day of the big event arrives, you should be fully prepped and ready to go with a strong understanding of Twitter, your audience, and your brand’s voice. You should also be fully armed with pre-made tweets, easy-to-use templates, and a list of the relevant hashtags and Twitter handles.
Now, all you have to do is be smart about what you post and have fun. If you stay true to your company’s brand and speak authentically to your core audience, they’re more likely to reward you with Twitter’s equivalent of treasure: loads of retweets and likes. Go get ‘em!
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