Along with live streaming, live tweeting forms the other half of the “live” activities that are currently taking the social media world by storm. Live tweeting refers to when a Twitter user watches or participates in an event while simultaneously tweeting about it.
Live tweeting can be divided into two categories: “on-site” and “on-couch”. On-site live tweeting is when the Twitter user is physically present at the event, while on-couch live tweeting is when the user watches the event on TV along with everyone else. As promised in the title, this article will focus on the latter category.
The Twitter sceptics out there might be wondering: why on Earth would someone watching an event want to read someone else’s tweets about it while the event is still going on? The simple answer is that more and more people are watching these events with their smartphones in hand. Commercial breaks or momentary lulls in the action provide ample opportunities for viewers to check their phones and 140-character tweets are the perfect filler for these idle moments.
Live tweeting is not just a social media marketing phenomenon either. Journalists live tweet election nights, sportscasters live tweet football matches, even ordinary people live tweet their favourite TV programmes.
So, why should your brand consider live tweeting?
- It humanises your brand: Live tweeting is the digital equivalent of watching an event with a friend and discussing it as it happens. Live tweeting puts you in the room with your followers and makes it feel like you’re there watching the event with them. It allows you to connect with your followers on a more intimate level and, since most events are hours long, for a protracted length of time.
- It allows you to piggyback off of immensely popular and widely followed events: Events like Eurovision, the Oscars or the Super Bowl attract large TV audiences and are assured to be trending topics on Twitter. By live tweeting these events, your brand can join in the conversation and reach a bigger audience than you normally could with ordinary, brand-themed tweets.
- It gives you inspiration for new and diversified content: Variety is the spice of life and the same applies to your Twitter account. Live tweeting allows you to break away from your usual mix of brand-focused posts with something new and different. Your followers will appreciate the change, while your social media manager will enjoy the new source of ideas. This is especially useful for platforms like Twitter where the lifetime of a post is short and fresh content is always needed.
- It engages existing followers and attracts new ones: Product-focused and sales-driven tweets are a necessary part of social media marketing, but even your most enthusiastic followers want to see something different every once in a while. This is especially true if your brand sells a commonplace or easy-to-understand product. There are only so many times that you can see a tweet about juice or a pair of headphones before you lose interest. There is also a sizeable chunk of the Twittersphere that likes your brand, but doesn’t like it enough to follow you based on reputation alone. However, by creating content that is entertaining in and of itself, you can convince these people to start following you.
What type of brands should live tweet?
Since live tweeting TV events requires a certain degree of humour, levity and even silliness, it is most appropriate for brands that already have a casual and light-hearted brand voice to begin with. Brands that usually assume a more formal or professional tone will find it harder to craft entertaining live tweets while staying on brand.
Generally speaking, on-couch live tweeting is more appropriate for B2C brands, while B2B brands will tend towards doing on-site live tweeting at industry conferences. However, this doesn’t preclude brands from switching it up if they find an event that resonates with their audience and fits with their brand.
Tips (if you choose to do it):
- Make sure your team is properly trained: Live tweeting is different from ordinary tweeting, which can be scheduled in advance and checked by multiple people before being published. The marketer must speak the brand’s voice fluently and know the limits of how edgy a brand is willing to be. If this person doesn’t have previous live tweeting experience, it might be beneficial for him or her to “pretend” live tweet another event beforehand, go over it with the rest of the marketing team to see what worked and what didn’t, and determine if anything needs to be done differently next time.
- Choose events wisely: You want something that will be widely followed and is relevant to your target audience, but that isn’t too divisive. Eurovision, the Grammys and one-offs like charity galas or jubilees are all safe bets. Sporting events can pose a bit of a challenge if there is a fierce rivalry and your followers are divided in which team they support. And unless you’re an official sponsor, don’t even try live tweeting the Olympics, otherwise you’ll be hearing from their lawyers.
- Prepare some tweets in advance: Maybe you’ll use them, maybe you won’t. At least you’ll have them on hand in the event that you get a case of writer’s block halfway through the broadcast. Plus, coming up with them will help get your creative juices flowing before the big day. This is even more important if you are thinking of including photos or graphics with your tweets, since image editing can be time consuming.
- Use #hashtags: Use the hashtag(s) associated with the event in order to ensure that your tweets are part of overall conversation and can be easily found by users browsing tweets related to that event.
- Introduce yourself: People know that behind every brand’s Twitter account there is an actual human being. Since live tweeting is inherently more intimate than general day-to-day tweeting, feel free to introduce yourself at the start (e.g. “Hey, Alex here from [brand name]! Looking forward to spending the next four hours watching Eurovision with you!”). It adds a personal touch and reinforces the I’m-a-friend-watching-this-with-you-in-your-living-room vibe. For the same reasons, it is also a good idea to finish the live tweeting session with a sign-off post thanking your readers for sharing this experience with you.
- Live tweet in pairs (or groups): Live tweeting is intense, so make it easier on yourself by dividing the workload. One person can write the main tweets, while the other person responds to followers’ comments. More people also means more sources of ideas and allows you to quickly get a second opinion if you are unsure about a particular tweet.
- Share: Repackage the night’s funniest / most popular tweets and share them on Facebook and other social channels the next day. If you do it right, your live tweets will be entertaining enough to be enjoyed even after the event is over.
- Learn from the masters: For some great examples of how to live tweet major TV events, check out @innocent.
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