5 tips for live tweeting

Live tweeting is a challenge whether done via smartphone in the field or with the luxury of a laptop/desktop and smartphone in the office/home. Five key things I’ve learned through live tweeting include:

1. When live tweeting in the field from only a smartphone, having an old-fashioned notebook and pen is still necessary. It is impossible to tap every quote or detail into a phone fast enough. Take notes manually, then tweet out key details, images and snippets of video as you are able.

Example: I covered the Food for Thought Lecture Series at the University of South Florida of St. Petersburg with Penny De Los Santos, a food photographer who shot features for National Geographic. I would not have been able to tweet a great quote or key details from her stories without getting them down in my notebook first.

2. For those working on iPhones and Apple computers, don’t forget to take advantage of AirDrop. It is sometimes easier to snap photos and videos with a phone, then send them via AirDrop to a laptop for uploading to a tweet (particularly when working with a social media management tool such as Hootsuite).

Example: When live tweeting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, I snapped photos and videos with my phone and AirDropped them to my computer because it was quicker and easier to type out the tweets on a full keyboard.

3. For events with identifying hashtags, don’t forget to use them! It seems simple, but it is easy to get engrossed in an event, especially when you are there in person. There is nothing worse than sending out several great tweets only to realize that your content was likely missed by those who should have seen it because you failed to add the hashtag.

Example: when I attended the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading, I was so excited to quickly relay a funny anecdote from author Judy Blume that I left off a hashtag here and there, meaning those tweets failed to appear in the keyword feed for the event on Hootsuite. Only people following me specifically got to see the full thread of tweets.

4. Research before an event is so important. Not only do you have to do the traditional research that comes with covering an event, but you also need to find out whom to follow on Twitter and begin following them, as well as make a list of relevant hashtags and other possible Twitter handles. In every event I’ve live tweeted, I have found that I still need to do at least some degree of research during the event — whether pulling a website link, looking for a source’s Twitter handle, etc. — so it is best to do as much as possible on the front end to save time and mental energy during the event.

5. Be prepared with a quick, effective method for making corrections on Twitter. In addition to the Retwact tool introduced in the course, I highly recommend the strategy initiated by Slate by issuing the correction as a reply to the original tweet. That way, anyone viewing the original tweet can see the resulting correction in the stream of replies.

Example: I, sadly, misidentified someone in a photograph I tweeted from the Food for Thought lecture, and the tweet was retweeted before I could delete and correct it. As soon as I realized what happened, I immediately issued a correction by replying to the original, and fortunately that information got retweeted.

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