Twitter has been working its way to the top, 140 characters at a time, for a while now. And there is a right and a wrong way for a business to use it, especially at a conference or meeting. If it is used correctly, it can be a gateway to establishing communication with future clients, customers, or students.
So, you are at a conference and wanting to live tweet? What are the rules?
If you go to a #conference, you are bound to see hundreds of people on their smart phones tweeting @students and staff, and during #speeches. Tweets are content, and content is key. The more stuff #yourcollege has, the more likely you are to attract the attention of new students. If you are loosing followers because of your tweets, or you are just not sure how to do it the right way, listen up.
Rule 1: Let your tweet feed know before you go to a conference.
Give them the option to mute you for it. Because you will be tweeting once every minute or so…you don’t want to blow up somebody’s twitter feed who doesn’t want to know about the conference. Refer them to a program like Tapbot, where you can mute someone for a limited amount of time.
They will delete you if you don’t warn them, and be prepared… some may delete you anyway. You’ll get plenty of followers from the conference, and a handful of people who stop following you because of the conference. Just remember to warn them…think of it as the first rule of twitter conference etiquette.
Rule 2: Use hashtags and tweet at people.
Sure, this seems like a basic concept, but it’s still a necessity. Most conferences have dedicated hashtags, as do individual speeches at some. Use them, and get to know people.
Also, most conferences will know the rules of creating a hashtag for an event. However, keep in mind if you are the hashtag maker for the entire event, that it should be short and original. It needs to be original so that your hashtag does not get blended into another event. It needs to be short so tweeters have room for longer messages. They are working with 140 characters and they go fast. #TAMC is better than #TheAdmissionsMarketersConference.
Example for Admissions staff: This applies to tweets in general, even if you are not at a conference. Say you are giving a future student a tour of your college, ask them if they tweet. Make sure you have your twitter name on your business card. If they follow you, tweet at them. Your tweet to them can be something they mentioned they liked, or a simple hello and link to the school website. Remember, you are using this as a gateway to more communication. This goes for a conference as well. Let people know what your twitter handle is, and be proud of it. The people who hate taking notes will appreciate you.
Rule 3: Think like a journalist.
At a conference, you shouldn’t tweet opinions about the speaker’s hair, or what you thought about his view. You are taking notes in 140 characters or less that should remain objective. Even then, some people will get upset and take it out on you. You do not want to argue on twitter, and there will be instigators. Have a polite response on standby (copy and paste), and continue on.
Note: Twitter might give you an involuntary hour break. Twitter API is limited to 180 requests per 15-minute window (get the details here).
We know that everyone can get a little tweet crazy at a conference.
A Few Tips to Keep in Mind:
- Don’t underestimate the power of links. Everybody likes a good tiny URL. At a conference, there will be URL’s on slides and in presentations. Adding them to your tweets makes yours more valuable.
- You are not the only tweeter at the conference. Check out the hashtags, and see what everyone else is saying. Favorite someone else’s post, and re-post something occasionally. Twitter is for interacting; after all, it is a social network.
- Don’t copy and paste twitter handles unless you are 100% it is spelled correctly. The same goes for hashtags. If you have hashtaged the #google conference as #gogle…No one will find you.
A Few Tools to consider:
Buffer lets your place multiple tweets inside its application and space them out throughout the day. While this feature itself may not help you at a conference, the fact that it tracks the analytics of your tweet just might. You can see how many people are looking and clicking on your tweets from the conference.
Use this to track your brand, hashtag, product, or service on twitter. If you don’t want to check out every single person posting at a conference, except on lunch, this is a great tool. Set Twilert to alert at 12 PM for lunch, and don’t worry about it until then.
Tweetwally lets you search for specific hashtags, users, or topics. You can then refine your search, sign on to twitter and save your tweet wall to a custom URL of your choice. This is a great tool for conferences because it automatically updates, and you can share the custom URL so everyone at the conference can keep up to speed. Plus, you can embed and blog it after…awesome content? We think so!
Last thing, don’t forget to have a twitter widget for your website. It will automatically update all your new tweets, and attract more traffic. Be heard.