Four tips to help make your event ‘tweetable’
This summer has certainly raised the bar on producing events. The successes of the Jubilee and London 2012 have left everyone buzzing – and turning to social media in record breaking numbers. More than 80,000 people tweeted during Usain Bolt’s second gold medal win alone.
But as it is unlikely most of us will be putting on events of such world renown, is there anything we take away from the Jubilee and the Games that we can apply to the world of business?
The answer is yes. Even without access to Danny Boyle, the Queen (in or outside an aeroplane), James Bond or glittering audience pixels, there is a lot we can learn from this summer’s hottest tickets on how to make events – any events – more ‘tweetable’; here are some top tips to consider.
Give ‘em something to talk about
Okay, so not all events can evoke as much curiosity and speculation as the Olympic Opening Ceremony, but creating an outlet for a little mystery can go a long way. Danny Boyle’s #savethesurprise hashtag brilliantly gave people a place to speculate and share their thoughts and experiences before the Opening Ceremony took place – building the suspense and keeping Twitter aflutter.
Consider your own pre-event hashtag to slowly leak details to your audience, such as keynote speakers, performers or key topics – but hold back a bit. Nothing generates excitement and buzz like keeping people guessing. Not only will it help add to your Twitter followers, but it can translate to more bums on seats, as well. Just make sure your event lives up to the build-up.
Create an (appropriate) spectacle
The size and budget of an event are definitely a factor when looking to provide entertainment to attendees. Clever animations and lighting effects are great for a stadium event or music festival and, as evidenced during Madness’ rooftop performance on Buckingham Palace at the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympic ceremonies, they can certainly get people tweeting. Similar effects might seem out of place at a corporate conference, however, and may lead to more ridicule than appreciation, so it’s important to get the context right.
In the heady days of the Silicon Valley, I can remember attending several conferences put on by business software companies that had dancers and light shows to introduce the key note speakers– to me these seemed disingenuous and out of place, but I suppose they did get my attention. If Twitter had existed then, however, my guess is there would have been more confused or mocking tweets than awestruck ones. So the moral of the story is the age old adage, know your audience. A relevant surprise guest, stunning venue or even a suitable live performance can definitely create a good buzz for your event on social media –a good gauge is to think ‘what would I brag/tweet to my friends about?’ before booking the entertainment!
Engage your audience
A tried and tested way to carry out a great event is to draw in the audience and get them involved. ‘Engagement’ was a key goal and buzzword for LOCOG from the minute London won the bid for the 2012 Games. And engage the audiences they did – through rock music, videos, dancers, live commentators and entertainers – the spectators at home and on telly were drawn to, and excited about, more than just the sport.
For more modest events, you can engage your audience by involving them in lively debates, panel discussions or even competitions. In regards to special effects, at the recent Technology 4 Good Awards I attended – the audience was asked to vote for their favourite winner by waving coloured glow sticks! It was a fun, cost effective way to poll the audience which left us all talking and tweeting about it later.
Beware the live tweets
Live Tweets can be tempting for upping the SEO of your event or as a way to stimulate audience interaction, but if it’s not correctly managed, it can lead to distracted spectators, frustrated speakers or live embarrassment. As most of us have smartphones, there will be times throughout the event when people are naturally tweeting about their experience. Take advantage of these and encourage tweeting over coffee breaks or between presenters. Designated hastags can also help tweeters to interact and up the Google rankings. You can start a Twitter debate over the lunch break, which can help the post- lunch speaker link into the views of the audience and capture their attention in that oh so difficult timeslot!
As far a broadcasting live tweets, I would use this technique sparingly or not at all. If you do decide to go for it, make sure your speakers know about it and lay out some ground rules to avoid embarrassment. If it’s an evening event with alcohol, remember nothing brings out the 12 year old ‘class clown’ in all of us like a few glasses of wine and a blank canvas on which to say whatever we like. What may sound like an interactive and ‘daring’ use of social media may quickly descend into a playground squabble if it goes unchecked! Consider yourself warned.
Lisa Henshaw, associate director, Fourth Day PR (@fourthdaypr); Lisa recently led the Olympic campaign for creative digital agency, Crystal CG.