You're Doing it Wrong: Tweeting at Events

Generally, I really like Twitter. One of my favorite parts of the site are its various subsections; you’ve got politics Twitter, sports Twitter, “weird” Twitter, cat Twitter… it really goes on and on. They’re kind of like micro sites within the overall site – places where people who share a similar interest can debate issues, create funny memes or send cat videos.

It’s the internet – cats are always prominently involved.

Of course, not all of these subsections are so great. One particular area I tend to despise is event Twitter. If you’ve attended a conference in the last 10 years ­– or follow anyone who has ever attended an event and tweeted about it – you probably already know what I’m talking about.

Someone attends an event, sits in a presentation and tweets out… a blurry photo of a faraway speaker and some lame quote like, “Believing in yourself is the first step to success #SuccessConference17.”

OK… great. Thanks for the insight! Seems like you’re learning a lot!

Tweets like this are basically useless. That’s not to say, however, that tweeting at an event is a completely useless endeavor. As long as you have something of value to share and sound like an actual human being, then your event tweets can be worthwhile.

Here’s why you should avoid tweets like these, and how you can instead create meaningful content.

What’s so wrong with these tweets?

I find these posts distasteful for a variety of reasons:

  • They’re all basically done to just show someone is attending an event for marketing purposes. It’s like halfhearted digital networking.
  • They completely ignore their audience. Seriously, by tweeting this, what does your audience gain? It’s just something to scroll past.
  • They’re lazy and don’t take advantage of your surroundings. Social media is, at its best, a communication tool that facilitates in-person interactions, which always mean more.

It’s very easy to see someone (and you likely have) take a picture at an event, tweet out some bland information, then sit there quietly not talking to anyone. Or participating. Tweeting at events isn’t a means to an end, ideally, it’s just a tool to increase your attendee experience.

Here’s what I mean by that.

What are the benefits of tweeting at an event anyway?

Tweets at events should, in theory, allow you to connect with other people while also enhancing your standing in your particular industry. A potential client, for example, who does any research on you and finds your Twitter profile will see you’re an engaged participant in your industry who wants to learn and grow.

That’s obviously a good thing.

More importantly, though, is the former point. Networking! By tweeting at an event, you can start discussions with other attendees, get to know other members of your industry and hopefully learn some things. In its purest form, tweeting and using social media at events is supposed to enhance the in-person experience, if you do it right.

OK, but those event hashtags are lame, right?

Ah, the signifier of any event tweet, as shown above. Can I answer with an… eh? We previously wrote about hashtags in marketing, advising to just generally NOT use them, but event hashtags are a litttttle bit different, since they’re meant to be used as more of a marker of where you’re at.

These other marketing hashtags, on the other hand, are actively trying to get you to use them to market their brand for them. Who wants to do that? Also, a lot of the time these hashtags are just incredibly lame.

Using an event hashtag, on the other hand, accomplishes a couple of things: it lets your tweet pop up on those neat Twitter displays every conference has now (that’s my name! Cool!) and, more importantly, it helps connect you with other people. You can scroll through the posts with the hashtag and see people who are posting valuable insights. Maybe you can then connect with that person and you know, talk in person. Which is, I stress, always better. They can, likewise, do the same and find you.

So yes, event hashtags still aren’t what I would call “cool,” but they’re much better than your standard marketing ones.

Sounding like a human 

This is the main reason I tend to despise these bad event tweets. I’ve written at length about this, but you should really strive to sound like a human on social media (and in all marketing, TBH). It’s my theory that people can be so hyperaware that they are participating in social media marketing, that they fall back on clichés or “best practices” so as to not take any risks. In the process of doing this, however, they just create useless content that in the end, probably wasn’t really worth doing.

“Here’s my perfectly fine, inoffensive, pretty bland observation showing that I am attending a conference. Now please give me likes/your business?”

I have a general rule when it comes to social media. Whatever you post, you should imagine you’re saying out loud, to a person’s face. This is true when it comes to arguing politics with a family member on Facebook, as well as tweeting out thoughts from the event you’re attending.

Now, maybe this won’t work for everyone. Some people will say whatever pops into their head to anyone. For most people, however, I’d argue this isn’t the case. You wouldn’t just walk up to someone and say, “Believing in yourself is the first step to success,” because whoever you said that to would either laugh in your face or try to quickly move past that very odd statement.

So, when you’re tweeting from an event, think about what has actual value that you’d actually repeat to someone in person. Instead of tweeting a vague platitude, share something you heard that you didn’t think of before, or information you think your audience might find valuable. Maybe you hear a statistic that’s new to you, or a strategy that seems like it might be worth looking into later.

And if you really want to be a human (which should come naturally; you are one, after all [I think…]), tweet your own thoughts on what you’ve heard. Agree? Disagree? Just want to further analyze it? That’s good! Share that! Just keep responding to your own original tweet and create a thread (when I see people retweet a thread by just tweeting “Thread” I get annoyed but boy would I be excited if someone ever retweeted a rant of mine saying that).

When it comes to photos, unless are sitting extremely close to the stage or meet a speaker/attendee and want to share it, just don’t post these. We get it, you’re at a conference sitting in the back row, cool.

Plus, this is nitpicky, but most camera phones don’t work well in the dark and these pictures just look bad. I guess I should have prefaced that by saying that was going to be an extremely nitpicky complaint, but oh well, here we are.

Just be honest

My recommendation here, to sum this all up, is to use Twitter at events similar to how you would every other day in your life. If you’re not a regular user, then don’t go out of your way to throw up a ton of tweets. Oftentimes, this is what leads to the ineffective tweets (ones that have no value, are an eyesore and are often intentionally overlooked by people scrolling rapidly through their feed) that I outlined above. But, if you do use Twitter often or semi-regularly, just ensure your tone is intact. Interact honestly and use the platform appropriately.

You’ll find it’ll be a much better use of your time.