Friday, August 24, 2012

Using Twitter for an Event

Recently I had a coworker come in and say to me "Hey guys, we should all get on twitter!  I just figured it out and it's awesome."  To which my immediate thought was You just figured it out? ...I get it, though.  I feel like I've just gotten the hang of Pinterest and now not only do I like it, but I use it as a quick-find for unique items.  Social media belongs to a certain part of the brain, kind of like languages.  You either get it or you don't.  But just like a language, practice makes perfect.  The more you learn & interact using it, the easier it is to understand.  I recently attended an event that used tweets.  I've read about incorporating it but never really experienced it.  I think it can be a very useful component to an event to encourage interaction and engagement of attendees -- but it also depends on how tech-savvy your attendees are.  Remember, it's an audience-driven tool so while it's a great way to promote and continue the conversation, you have to also be sure that, like with all forms of social media, it's appropriate for what you're doing.  If you're a social media guru and you can throw it in, I say why not?  People expect to be able to go to their favorite site and find information about your event.  You can have it there, but don't strictly rely on it.  Diversify your promotional approach along with your plans for engagement if using twitter is new for you.  

I found 2 really great articles discussing the uses of twitter.
Business2community.com has an excellent article which quickly & easily breaks it down: http://www.business2community.com/twitter/top-6-tips-for-using-twitter-during-events-0253443

Simplydigitalmarketing.com also has a great overview with a list of sites to help you incorporate tweets into your event:
http://www.simplydigitalmarketing.com/why-use-twitter-at-an-event-or-conference

These articles assume a little so in case you're completely unfamiliar with twitter, here are some basic steps that people don't always explain:

What Is Twitter?
Twitter allows anyone to say whatever they want in 140 characters or less.  You can follow people and they can follow you. You can include links to other websites which are often shrunk down to what are called "tinyurl"s  which lessen the characters shown to the link.

Why Would I Want That?
Twitter is a conversation piece -- whether you looking to start it or continue it.  I sign up for a lot of news sources this way.  BBC, CNN, FOX, etc are constantly updating their twitter feeds with a link if you want to read more.  I like this because I can find out what's happening right now, but if it's not something I want to learn more about, I can move on.

Twitter is also great for business because you can find people with certain interests and see what they are talking about.  You can get yourself out there and connect directly with anyone simply by mentioning them in your tweet.  For example, my twitter is @ChicagoPlanner.  If I wanted to talk to someone, let's say @abc123 I could say: @abc123 Thank you so much for attending the event.  Hope to see you next year!  When the tweet comes up it would show it came from my twitter account @ChicagoPlanner, and because I used their name, it would alert them about my tweet.  It's a great way to reach out to someone you don't know without being obtrusive.  It's also a great way to announce to other people that you're communicating with other people.  (Anyone can see everything you've ever tweeted, whether or not they follow you.)

What IS a Hashtag (#)?
I did not understand this for a long time.  Why are people always putting that stupid symbol in front of words without any spacing? Every how-to-promote you read about twitter says "use a hashtag." "Create a #tag."  Well that's all well and good if you know what it is.  Hashtags are basically topics.  Using the hashtag indicates a specific topic that twitter knows it should find.  When you search it, every tweet with that hashtag appears in chronological order (the first tweet you see being the most recent).  If someone is looking to know more about something, they can search the hashtag.  If someone is sharing information related to the subject, they can include the hashtag to make sure they are found by people searching that topic.  Hashtags do NOT alert a person.  Let's say you said this: @abc123 loves #JustinBieber.  Justin Bieber does NOT get that notification.  However, if you said @abc123 loves you! @JustinBieber" he would get that.  So basically a hastag (#) is a subject/topic and @[name] are people.

So hopefully you feel brave enough to use twitter for your next event.  It's a great way to interact and keep the conversation going!


Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheChicagoEventPlan
If you'd like to work with me, email business inquiries to thechicagoeventplanner@gmail.com




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