The Art of the Tweet
Last week I had the opportunity to live Tweet at a conference. Despite being an almost five-year veteran of Twitter, I found that live tweeting an event is both an art and a science.
My role was that of a hired gun: part of a writing team assigned to cover the event. While half the team did traditional content capture of the sessions, my role was to listen to the speakers and then Tweet content using the conference hashtag at an average of one Tweet every two minutes or so. It sounds so simple.
But what it really means is that you need to focus hard on what the speaker is saying, because your job is to distill what they are saying into something understandable, relevant and still interesting…in 140 characters or less. Actually less, because of the need to both attribute the speaker and use the conference hashtag. So, let’s say that your little flash of brilliance needs to be less than 122 characters long. Including spaces.
At that length, you need the concentration of a laser beam and the writing brilliance of a Shakespeare, or reasonable facsimile. As the AV guy said to me, it may look like you are writing Twitter haiku.
After the first day I was so tired I fell asleep on the light rail transit going home. Luckily I get off at the end of the line.
To help you become an artist of the live Tweet, keep four points in mind:
- Concentrate: The speaker is your source of brilliance.
- Craft: Short. Sweet. Powerful! Is your mantra.
- Check: Interesting, no typos, not over the character limit. Right hashtag. Go!
The art of Twitter
Concentrate. Craft. Check. Repeat!
Laser beam Shakespeare.
That little piece is 74 characters, with spaces.
To help you be a live Tweet scientist, here is a bit more detail:
- Write down key points as you hear them on a notepad or laptop. Write fast.
- If you have the luxury of waiting until after the speaker to Tweet, great. You will have time to craft each one for maximum brilliance.
- If you don’t have that luxury, try to type as you go into the Tweet box. Judicious use of colons, semi-colons and commas will be necessary.
- So will the ampersand (&) and various cheats like “2” for “to” or “w.o.” for “without”, but keep those at a minimum.
- Try starting off with a word or short phrase that gives context, such as “Keynote:” or “At the trade show:” or “Opportunity!”
- If possible, use Tweetchat (www.tweetchat.com) as this will automatically enter the right hashtag for you. If not, you may want to copy the hashtag and then paste it into each one to avoid making a typo.
- Pick your points. You probably don’t want to Tweet everything, and you may be able to link related concepts in one Tweet.
- Proofread before hitting “send”.
- Get lots of sleep the night before!