How to cover live events on social media (part 3)

Welcome to Part 3!

Head over to Part 1 if you want to read about Setup and Team Management for your live social media coverage.

Or jump into Part 2 to read about your tools and social media workflow.


Prep – how to get ready to cover your event

Vitally important! With some thought gone into your workflow, you need to start getting ready for your event a few days in advance!

1. Get everyone’s Twitter handles & job titles

Speakers, panellists, attendees from your own organisation – get their handles and job titles, put them in a spreadsheet or text doc.

Now whenever you’re writing tweets, it’s easy to flip back to this doc as a reference, and to cut and paste their correct handles in.

Share this with your team! And if you’re using Slack, pin it as an important document in your team’s channel. Now everyone has it to hand!

Don’t forget to share it with any delegates from your organisation too!

 

2. Get the event running list

Obvious, really. Again, pin it in Slack.

 

3. Get the speeches a day beforehand & prep messaging early

Members of your organisation giving any speeches?

  1. Get the text of their speeches in advance. It doesn’t matter if it’s going to be tweaked a little more after they send it.
  2. Now cut the speech into tweetable quotes.
  3. Again, even if they differ from these on the day, it’s a moment’s work to edit them and post them live. You’re in the business of saving yourself seconds here!
  4. If you’re using Sprout, set the Queue times, starting at a point in the future (e.g. later tonight). Now when you’ve cut the speech into tweets and drafted them in Sprout, you can just click to Queue them, rather than save them as drafts.Why do this? Well, it keeps this content separate from the other content your team are writing and saving in the Drafts folder.Just don’t forget: at the end of the session, clear your Queue of any unused content otherwise it WILL be published!

Tools you need:

  • Sprout Social to save the draft tweets / queue up content
  • Some way of listening live to the speech so you can publish at the right time.
    If you can’t access a live stream, agree with a Content Gatherer that they should attend the session, listen, tweak the tweets and press publish

 

4. Craft reusable visual assets in advance

You’ll want to vary the content you’re sending out so it’s visually appealing and not a list of text heavy he-said-she-said quotes.  So invest some time and energy now in creating some image templates you can use with your tweets.

Useful options include:

  1. Speaker headshots with room for quotes – contact the event organiser to supply photos of the key speakers and panellists
  2. Generic image of event
  3. Generic image of panel / session / day info
  4. ‘Coming up’ image assets, with individual panel or session info

For all of these, you should of course make sure you include the event / your organisation branding and hashtag.

 

5. Create some blank templates, for unexpected content opportunities

If you’re doing your own graphic design then this is paramount. However, it’s also incredibly important if you usually use an external agency or designer to create your visual assets.

Basically during your event it’s guaranteed that a moment will come when a great photo comes in and you urgently need to post it.

You could just post it, sure, but the simple addition of your brand logo / messaging in the corner will really enhance your content and reinforce your presence.

So:

  1. get hold of your brand logo files (.png with transparency, Illustrator or Photoshop)
  2. create new PSD files in the right social media sizes
  3. and arrange your brand logos / messaging in one corner as a new layer
  4. lock it in place

Now voila! When your Content Gatherer sends a great shot of the Prime Minister pausing to chat to your CEO in front of your event poster, you can whip open that template, drop in that image, brand, export and publish it in seconds!

Tools you need:

  • Photoshop – create some PSDs in the right sizes for your social channels
  • Canva – “amazingly simple graphic design software” online. And it is too! Create an attractive and social media consistent template (you can use the professionally looking example layouts as a start) and drag and drop in your assets. Done!
  • Landscape – “streamlined image resizing”, also by Sprout Social. You can’t add logos, but you CAN just select your target social media channel(s), upload an image, and crop and download it in the right sizes for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc

 

6. Communicate activity in advance & explain the running order

Don’t forget, if you’re going to be deluging your followers with tweets and content from an event, you’ll want to remind them in advance – at least a few times – that tomorrow you’re going to be tweeting live.

Equally, make sure that those people who are actively following you during the event know exactly what’s going when. Set the scene. Give them timings and cues.

“Tomorrow we will be tweeting live from Music Impact 2017! Follow us for … ”

“Coming up next, the Artist Copyright session on….”

“The panel are now accepting questions from the audience.”

“Final question: What do the panel think about…”

“That’s the end of our session on Artist Copyright. We’ll be publishing our analysis in the next few hours, over at…”

“We’re breaking for lunch for an hour here. Tune in at 2.30pm for…”

“And that brings Day 1 to a close! Great sessions on …. And tomorrow promises ….”

“We’ve curated some of the best tweets from today, here….”

 


The wrap up

Event running over a few days? Be tidy!

You made it this far! Great. Now, when your day comes to an end you’re going to be tired and wanting a serious wind down (beers with the team will sound good). But at the end of the day, this is probably the only chance you’re going to get to prep for tomorrow.

It’s time for some super important chores.

Clear out your draft content

Purge your Sprout drafts! Cull the tweet ideas saved in that doc! Be ruthless! If something wasn’t good enough to use today, don’t leave it to clutter up your draft content and your thinking tomorrow.

Because when tomorrow comes, you’ll probably have no time or headspace to even remember what you were trying to say the day before, and the drafts from the day before WILL confuse you and your team and slow up your flow.

Tidy up the assets

Prune duds, sort and organise your folders. Apply a naming convention to your files. Tomorrow you’re going to be awash with content again, so 5 minutes renaming and filing content now means you’ll be faster and more efficient tomorrow.

 

Now you can relax. Great job! Wind down. Think about what you’d like to try out tomorrow…

(What’s that? This was a one day event? Lucky you! Now don’t forget to get those tablets back from your Content Gatherers, and log out of everything you installed – even delete the apps entirely! You don’t want to leave your social media channels wide open!)

 

What did we miss?

Every event is different and every event rewards you with new experience and tips. So what’s missing in this guide? Let us know in the comments!

 

How to cover live events on social media (part 2)

Welcome to Part 2! Head over to Part 1 if you want to read about Setup and Team Management for your live social media coverage.

 


Your social media team kit

Desktop!

The Content Manager is going to need a computer with a mouse. If this is you, you could theoretically just use a tablet, but the speed at which you’re going to be working along with the other software you need access to (e.g. Photoshop) mean you really do need the flexibility of a computer and mouse.

Tablets, not phones

Tablets go to the Content Gatherer(s).

Don’t be tempted to allow the people doing this role to just use their phones. They may be able to type on a phone fine, and take okay pictures, but the tablet allows:

  • access to all the other channels and apps they need
  • quicker typing
  • with a dedicated piece of kit in hand, more focus on the work ?

There are many companies out there that will rent tablets for a token day rate, deliver and collect them.

Top tip: Get the tablet a day or two in advance to give you time to download all the apps and get your team familiar with them

Top tip: If renting, remember to ensure you are sent their most recent models. Later ones have better cameras.

Top tip: Many hire companies will also rent you a tablet with a 4G data connection for a small charge. Use it – for a couple of $ it means you’re not reliant on the venue’s wi-fi and you get some peace of mind.

 


Setting up your workflow

With all of the content coming in you are going to need a workflow and establish this with the team.

We really recommend Sprout Social for this. If you don’t already know it, it’s a great social media management, monitoring and reporting tool whose strength really lies in the way it lets teams of people co-create content.

Users can create and publish messages, share saved drafts, queue up content for automated publishing at set slots each day, and you can allocate incoming messages amongst your team as Tasks that need a response.

If you’re not using Sprout, fear not: just adapt the following for whatever you use, and try to keep in line with the principles.

Stay in touch

Content Gatherers should be continually updating the Content Manager with what’s going on. They should be telling him/her they’re going into a new session; that the CEO is speaking next; that questions from the public will begin in 5 mins, etc.

It’s very easy for the Content Manager, who isn’t in the same space, to get cut off and not know what’s happening. This will impact on the content going out and the editorial control will break down.

For example, it’s too easy for the Content Manager to assume, say, that a session is finished and then move on to publishing something else. But then additional content comes in from the first session, and it isn’t used because it’s now out of place. This just frustrates everybody.

Tools you need:

  • Slack: Set up the app on your desktop and tablets. Now make sure everyone has an account, set up a channel for the content team, and set up private message channels with each other in advance too.
  • If for whatever reason you don’t use / can’t use Slack, a Skype group is fine.

 

Create a channel for sharing assets:

Your content gatherers are going to be out and about, collecting assets, taking photos, and you need to be on top of these.

Tools you need:

  • Slack – great for visibility and everyone can see what each other is collecting
  • Dropbox / Google Drive – preferential if you want the team to upload assets to a shared folder, which has the bonus of putting them all in one space and saves you a pulling them out of Slack.

Top tip: upload speed. At an event, uploads speeds can be painfully slow, so don’t expect photos and videos to be available immediately!

Top tip: Hey, Content Managers! Organise that content as soon as it comes in! If everyone’s uploading photos to a folder, there are bound to be some blurry, lower quality duds in there. Delete them as they arrive. Perhaps even pull the good ones out into a ‘selected photos’ folder.

If you don’t, very quickly you’re going to be wading through assets just to find something to use.

 

Anything else you need?

Password management

It’s all too easy for a roving Content Gatherer to be locked out of a tool, channel or other resource they need to access. Their next step will be to bother you to reset their passwords or wait for a password reset email.

Instead, install your favourite password management tool, so they can access lost passwords on the go.

What? You don’t use one? Naughty. Go here, right now.

An extra app for note taking / easy writing

Because although your Content Gatherers will usually be writing content directly into Sprout, there will come a time (e.g. during a long speech) when they just want to open a doc, and type type type, and not worry about character length or saving*.

Then they can take a moment to assess, and then cut and paste the best bits as draft tweets.

A Word-like app is fine for this.

*Top gripe: Sprout Social! Although we love it, Sprout currently doesn’t let you save drafts that are over the character length for that channel.

On the one hand this is induces great discipline for writing social content, on the other this is really frustrating when you’re covering a live speaker that won’t pause for you to get their gold-nugget quotes down to under 140 characters!


Next up! Part 3 – Preparing for your event… and how to do post-event wrap up like a boss

 

How to cover live events on social media (part 1)

We’ve covered quite a few events on live social media over the years, from conferences with major media publishers, to international summits, to invite-only internal celebrations. And by and large, we’ve had a blast at all of them. Every time we do one we learn so much about what makes great event content, and also the best ways to plan and undertake the coverage.

So, what better way to share our learnings than a guide on running awesome social media from events!

Here it is then: a short series covering the team, workflow, prep and tools. Hope you find it of value! ?

(PS – We’re going to be focusing on Twitter here, but a lot of this applies equally well to Facebook, Instagram and other channels…)

Part 1 – Team up and set your roles & responsibilities

First, to effectively cover an event on social – no matter how big or small – you really need a minimum two-person team, with the roles divvied up as below.

And once you have more than one person, communicating these clear roles and work areas is paramount. Both your team and your wider org needs to know exactly who is doing what.

Let’s look at the first role:

Content Gatherers

One or more people need to be the Content Gatherers.  Their role is purely to take the photos, write the tweets, pen the posts, grab the quotes and interview the participants.

However, the one thing that they don’t do is publish.

They write, draft and save draft content, ready for publishing as part of your agreed publishing flow (more on this later).

They’re totally forward focused

Once a draft is saved, they don’t look back. They move on to the next piece of content. This frees up their creativity and keeps them focused on discovering and reporting gems.

In no way do they publish, retweet, comment or vary from hunting out and crafting good content. This is the duty of our next team member.

The Content Manager (‘the social boss’)

A role for one person only.

This role is to be undertaken by someone with the complete overview of the goal of the event, and a clear understanding of the organisation’s remit, editorial position, style-guide and tone of voice.

If you’re covering your own organisation’s event, then this is likely a more seasoned member of your social media team.

The role is tactical and focused. This person will look at all the draft content coming in to the workflow and make sure it’s on form.

If the Content Manager is you, here’s your tasks:

1. Punch it up

Proofread the draft social content, spot the typos, strengthen with a careful edit, and amend tweets. Don’t forget to fit in that all-important event / campaign hashtag (often forgotten by the fast-moving Content Gatherers)

2. Keep editorial oversight

Is your output overly focusing on one topic? Do you need to vary the media (reportage, quotes, photos, images, video, gfx)? Are any kinds of content or messaging getting better engagement than others?

With this in mind, you need to be directing the Content Gatherers accordingly.

3. Know when to throttle down or unleash the flow

You need to pace the content. Don’t hit publish as soon as draft content is signed off by you. Hit publish when you feel it’s ready, and know when to give your followers a break.

4. Handle the community… on your own schedule

Field the messages coming in via social, share and retweet only when it’s right to do so.

Respond when it’s appropriate. Yes, we all know it’s great to be responsive, and that you need to tear down that wall between your event, your organisation and the wider world.

However, just bear in mind that replies and retweets can sometimes interrupt your output when you need to focus on a flow of messaging.

This is why you and only you should be retweeting or replying to comments – don’t let anyone else stuff your feed with retweets that stack up on top of your crucial event coverage.

5. Root yourself

Position yourself in one location and let your organisation know exactly how to reach you.

We’ve worked this role in a separate room at an event (with the press pool), at a different end of the building, and on the other side of the city altogether – they can all work fine, as long as everyone in your team and organisation knows where you are and how to reach you.

6. Field the requests coming in / take one for the team

We all know that your social team get requests from across your organisation for tweets and posts, and that these sometimes don’t fit into your usual content strategy. At an event, this is going to happen a LOT.

Make sure that everyone attending this event knows that it’s you to bother with these, not the Content Gatherers. Suck it up.

 


In Part 2: Setting up your social media tools and workflow!