Add the word “live” to your event and there’s automatic excitement. Every host who opens the show on Saturday Night Live, says “LIVE from New York…” and we pay attention. Television stations use “live”and “breaking news” to make us sit up and see what’s going on. In the radio years, a sure sign of something different was the voice of a very stern announcer saying “we interrupt this program to bring you…..” followed by whatever life-changing news was happening.
The same can be said for live reporting on social media. Instead of the terms “live” and “breaking news” we often see a post on social media proceeded by all caps and HAPPENING NOW, especially on FB. On Twitter, we often see the term “BREAKING” on Tweets from reporters. The early premise of Instagram was that everything was “live” unless you tagged your photo with #latergram, but many users treat the Instagram as a look book rather than a breaking news platform.
You don’t have to be mainstream media or a big personality to generate excitement during a live event. There are numerous ways to use social media to cover your clients’ events live. Here are a few ideas and the pros and cons of each.
- Brand-Only Posts: This is where you curate posts for the brand channels before, during and after the event.
- Pro: It allows maximum control of the message.
- Con: Only one point of view is represented. During large or multi-venue events, it’s easy to miss part of the action.
- Anonymous Contributors: Similar to traditional media, a variety of volunteers or reporters are given “assignments” and one person curates what they’re contributing into the brand channels.
- Pro: Coverage includes many elements of the event.
- Con: Someone needs to be at the controls, sorting through and posting photos, videos and other assets as you go along. There is a high margin for error.
- Personality Posts: In this scenario, you are still gathering assets but they may be brand ambassadors or guest reporters with their own following.
- Pro: The personalities give weight to your event.
- Con: They can become the story.
- Community Sourced Posts: Certainly you’re watching one or more hashtags, visitor posts and the @mentions column to sense the general excitement that is unfolding during the event. In this case, you can share, retweet or repost with a hat tip or thank you.
- Pro: This shows the community you are watching and open to their point-of-view during an event.
- Con: Like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.
- Channel Take-overs: Some brands create excitement around an event with a directed channel takeover by a brand ambassador or celebrity. These are heavily promoted and often part of a larger campaign.
- Pro: The intersection of the brand point of view and the celebrity’s point of view often leads to amazing results for both parties.
- Con: Same as community sourced posts, you might be surprised in a different way or do damage to your brand.
- Combination: When we assist a client with covering live events on social media, we often use a combination approach.
- The Cardboard Kids Campaign for ChildSafe included brandposts, community sourced posts and a curated stream by key area bloggers into a Flipboard magazine.
- The San Antonio Cocktail Conference also featured a combination of brand posts, anonymous contributors and directed contributions using social media influencers to cover the 5 day event.
- When assisting a health care client during a one day women’s conference, brand-only posts were the focus due to the nature of the subject matter and the brand’s guidelines.
No matter how you cover your next live event, you need a plan and a moderator to make it all happen.
How do you help your clients cover live events in social media? Leave a comment.