Social Media Event Coverage: An Integrated Approach (Part 2)

After weeks–and even months–of planning your event has finally arrived and it’s time to put your social media plan into action.

Before I start my coverage, I make sure to have the following indispensable items close by:

1. Laptop

2. Camera

3. Twitter event tracking sheet

4. A ridiculously large cup of coffee

On event day, I arrive at the venue at least an hour in advance and set up my laptop. The first thing I do is log onto Twitter and check my event tracking list (for more on Twitter event lists, click here) to see if there has been any activity (i.e., event-related tweeting) overnight or that morning. If there has been, I either retweet these updates or use them as engagement opportunities. Some examples are below.

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Once the event begins in earnest, I commence my live-tweeting. In this role, I provide as much “on the ground” coverage of the event as possible, which includes posting photos, tweeting cogent points from speakers, and retweeting posts by alumni or students attending the event. A glimpse of this coverage is below.

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(As an aside, I use a handheld camera to take event photos, as opposed to my smartphone. This is a bit of a hassle since I need to download each photo I take onto my laptop before posting it on Twitter. Therefore, the images are not published in real-time, but the slight delay is worth it since the images from my handheld are of much better quality than those I take with my Android.)

Widen the Net

While live-tweeting is a constant during any event I cover, I also look for engagement opporunities with alumni who are not in attendance. This is usually where my tracking sheet comes in. In my “Rules of (Twitter) Engagement” post, I cover this tracking mechanism in detail. In short, every alumnus/a who interacts with us via Twitter (e.g., through a retweet, response to a question we have posed, etc.) gets added to an excel spreadsheet I manage. This sheet includes the name of each alumnus, their Twitter handle, and the biographical information each has included in his or her Twitter profile. With this information, I am able to reach out to Twitter followers and “bring them into the fold.”

An example of this occurred during our spring reunion when the dean mentioned “Field,” a program which gives students valuable experience outside of the Harvard Business School, during his opening address. With the dean’s comments, and a tweet by Avni Thompson, in mind, I “pushed” a question out to alumni whose “Field” experience was still fresh. So, I pulled up my tracking sheet, searched for alumni who graduated a few months earlier, and then sent out a tweet which included the handles of these recent graduates.  The result? Two of the four alumni I reached out to responded to my tweet within 30 minutes and these tweets helped “break up” all of the live-tweeting I was doing.

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The following is another example of this outreach approach. As I was preparing to live-tweet from one session, I pulled up my tracking sheet and searched for the word “founder.” Once I found alumni who self-identified as company “founders,” I asked them what dilemmas they had encountered along the way. Again, I was able to broaden the scope of my event coverage by including alumni who were far from the event (for example, Roberto Charvel was tweeting from Mexico during the reunion).

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Don’t Forget Those Who Are in “Da House”

While it’s great to engage non-attendees, it’s also vitally important to interact with alumni who are actually at your event. The first step I take in this process is monitoring the hashtag I’ve created for the event, as well as any Twitter event lists I’ve assembled (for more on event list management, see part 1 of my event coverage series). 

Below is an example of how I engaged with one alumnus during our spring reunion.

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Another great engagement tool is posing a question to event participants. In this case, I check my Twitter event list, see who has been actively tweeting, and then pose my question.

 

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Have A Sense of Humor

For the most part, the events I cover are “serious business.” Breakout sessions and panels focus on everything from work/life balance to advice for switching careers. But, like all my social media work, I believe it’s important to have a sense of humor from time to time. Some ways I’ve tried to be funny, or at least mildly amusing, are below.

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Get an Early Start on Your Storify

As you may have noticed, I tweet A LOT during events and also aggregate tweets using Storify. Following an event–usually within an hour or so after it ends–I publish my Storify. If you are planning to follow a similar approach, I would suggest getting an early start. I typically use my lunch break to get the Storify started so by the time the event is over I can publish it fairly quickly and move on to post-event coverage, which will be the subject of the last segment of my event coverage trilogy.

Coming next week: Part 3

Was this post helpful? Is there anything I missed? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Robert Bochnak manages social media for the Harvard Business School’s alumni office. He’s also the former writer and editor of GradMatters: The Blog for Tufts GSAS. 

Follow Robert on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertBoc.

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