Last month I managed my first tweet-up. With no precedent internally or little exposure to them locally, I naturally turned to Google for some suggestions.
Having found tips on tweet-up planning and execution on the web to be quite limited, I thought I would add my voice to the online archives.
Simply put, a tweet-up is a meeting via a social media platform around a specific topic or purpose. It is also referred to as a tweet chat and is a great way to allow global contribution to a cause or event.
Set your date
Timing is critical. Ensure you give yourself several weeks to plan and promote your event. Choose a date that doesn't coincide with a major industry happening unless your tweet-up will be around the same topic and co-promoted with that event.
Choose your topic
Although a tweet-up among far-flung friends for the sake of it is cool, businesses or entities embarking on tweet-ups are encouraged to have a clear topic for discussion.
Tweet-ups can be powerful tools for advocacy when well executed and it is key that research is done to ensure the right topic is chosen.
What are your key challenges or opportunities and how can tweet-up help to shed light on these situations?
Once your topic is selected, promotion and coordination should start simultaneously.
Target stakeholders wisely, casting your net wide enough to have a sizable audience but narrow enough to generate meaningful discussion.
In addition, your audience needs to be savvy with the platform you choose. If they are unlikely to be, you will spend much of your time educating them on how to create an account and how to join in the discussion. This is critical if they are going to participate.
Media or no media?
If you anticipate a large crowd of on-site attendees and robust discussion then the media may not be a bad idea. Smaller crowds may give the impression that the event was unsuccessful, despite large numbers of online participants. When in doubt, especially if this is your first tweet-up, err on the side of caution and just issue a news release afterward.
Facebook and Twitter cover photos are a great place to start. Customize a banner so that your followers can have early notice. Create a different banner for each social network as the profile photo will cover different areas of the cover image. Take the time to layout the graphics for the best mileage on each platform.
A well-crafted news release can go a long away, as well as email marketing to your databases and via public e-marketing services.
Frequency is entirely debatable but it is important that you evolve your copy and graphics to include more data as it becomes available, e.g. if you have special guests or panelists confirmed who will field questions from the web audience.
Do promote your event at in-persons meetings, events or by visiting special interest groups. This goes a long way in getting the word out.
Build your event theme around the topic chosen, decorating your event, selecting your catering and even determine the colours that will resonate with your chosen theme; while staying fully on brand of course.
In your communication plan you should also make provisions for internal communications to ensure that your employees are not only aware but on board. Update your social media policy to make participation guidelines clear and encourage them to spread the word. You can even appoint persons to address posts based on their expertise. All in all, it is a great way to increase the visibility of your senior managers and subject-matter experts.
If you have blocked employee-access to social media inside the firewall, temper your notification to staff to suit. Don't invite them to join in if they will have to use personal devices. A word to the wise is sufficient.
Twitter is great; so is Google Hangouts and even Facebook. Experiment with all of them before you make your final decision. If you want to facilitate sharing files, live streaming and comments beyond 140 characters, Twitter might not be ideal.
Make it an Event!
Tweet-ups are often held in person with persons chatting and tweeting up a storm at the same time. This format is more casual and facilitates light music, hors d'oeuvres and lounge seating.
For a more formal meet-up, set up your room theatre-style and stream the tweets via a projector and have your tweeters on hand to capture to most salient points made by your panel. Cater based on the time of day and encourage discussion at particular times. Video tape the event to ensure key points are captured that exceeded 140 characters.
Have a rehearsal
Ok, maybe not so formal an exercise but do ensure to debrief all participants so they know their role once the action begins. Share your high-level project plan with all key participants and provide them with key data.
Prepare for a Crisis
Have contingency messages handy. Never assume that tweet-chat participants will stick to the topic, especially if your company or entity has major publicly-known issues or initiatives ongoing.
One language or more?
If you have the resources, try to respond to persons tweeting in their native language. If this is a challenge, acknowledge them in the least by liking their posts.
One handle or more?
With Twitter, it is easier to use one primary handle, especially considering that persons will likely follow you once the event is deemed a success. Choose your primary account. If using multiple account ensure you man them adequately during the exercise.
Yes! Catering, decorations, technical support etc. are critical. Take all of the help you can get but do stick to your budget. If your senior management is participating, have someone tweet on their behalf unless they have a large following at their personal handle and are comfortable tweeting.
Do ensure to like and follow as many participants as deemed plausible. This kind of traction is what tweet-ups are made for. Set key targets for how many new followers you want from your event also.
Save for On-Demand
It is great if you are using a platform not limited to 140 characters. In any case try to record the event, whether streaming live or not, and share the video later.
Archives & Hashtags
How can one archive tweets from an event? In retrospect, I would say chose a very unique hashtag. When you search for all of the related tweets afterwards, it helps when no one else is using your hashtag. Acronyms combined with numbers are great but there is no limit. Also stick to one hashtag so that participants find it easier to follow the discussions.
Archive your tweets in a spreadsheet making note of the retweets and likes received and even comments made. Such a document can make great fodder for future discussion, especially if chockful of suggestions with great strategic value.
Measuring a Tweet-up
While we were told immediately after the tweet-up by a social media company that participated that we attained over one million impressions during our event, it was questionable since our hashtag was similar to another being used long before.
Notwithstanding, with a proper archive of your tweets you can enumerate how many persons participated, how many tweets were posted, how many people attended the live event, etc. against the targets set in your initial communication plan. Do include in your review your actual spend versus what was budgeted.
I am still searching for a great programme that can extract all the tweets from the event automatically after. Tweetdeck was my first try but I couldn't extract a report. I had no luck with Hootsuite either.
I would appreciate any suggestion you have on how to measure a tweet-up.
Feel free to share your comments and suggestions below!