This one is for all my professional tweeters out there — that’s right, I’m talking about my social media peers. Whether you’re a freelancer, an in-house copywriter, or an agency gal like me, there may come a time when you’re called upon to be the voice of a live event. Believe me… I’ve been there.
This summer, I had the pleasure of taking on a fun project here at ChatterBlast. If you’re local to the Philadelphia area you’re likely familiar with the Wawa Welcome America festival — odds are you’ve been to Party on the Parkway at least once. Usually I’d be there joining you, but this year I was behind the scenes writing tweets and taking names (and sweating a lot, too).
I’m not going to lie to you, it was hard (but incredibly fun) work; luckily, I didn’t have to do it alone. With a great team behind me, every day was a new adventure and brought experiences that helped me to grow as a professional. Now that the smoke has cleared and the dust has settled, I’ve started reflecting on the lessons learned and takeaways from my summertime stint as a creative lead.
I’m here to bequeath you my knowledge on how to use social media for peak live event coverage, and how to survive the hustle and bustle of long days, overheated phones, and eating nothing but pocket snacks.
Know your story.
Our story? Families celebrating July 4th together in Philadelphia. This cutie is proof of that!
Before you even think about logging into that Instagram account to start posting fire stories, you need to pump the brakes and think about your storytelling angle. Trust me on this one — it will save you many headaches down the line.
When you establish what your tone and messaging is, it helps you to decide what’s important to cover and what moments you should be sharing with your followers. Essentially: what story are you trying to tell? Are you trying to showcase live performances and invoke the ever familiar feeling of FOMO from your followers? Or perhaps your mission is to highlight philanthropy and build community.
In short, there’s no wrong answer. The only wrong way to go about it is to start posting blindly without knowing what your content is meant to be about. Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm — you’ll find the story you’re looking for.
Sadly, you can’t do it all.
Don’t take this the wrong way but you really can’t do it all yourself. And lucky for you, in this case, you certainly don’t want to. Even if the event your covering is only a few hours long, it’s not possible to capture ever perfect moment — and your followers really don’t need to see it all, anyway.
Think of it this way: your social posts should be a highlight reel. Once you’ve established your storytelling points, deciding what’s worth sharing and what’s a “you had to be there moment” will be easy.
Call on your peers and never underestimate UGC.
Huge shout out to Visit Philly for collaborating with us during the festival!
Let’s face it: everyone working a live event is busy. From the sound guys to the security guards, and back to the team at HQ, everyone has their hands full. With that being said, take help where you can get it. For us social media folks, that means sourcing content from other channels and cross promoting.
Sometimes you’ll be too busy to be in two places at once, but check in with your peers (other agencies, news channels, influencers, etc.) and see what they’re posting about the event. Any time that you can share content, make connections, and work together it’s a win-win for everyone.
Pro tip: if you plan cross promotion ahead of time, you’ll be able to take collaboration to the next level. Planning ahead means more time to flush out ideas and find cohesive messaging. It’s all about promoting one another and reaching a larger audience.
Expect the unexpected.
The Parkway might be a little soggy, but the skies are clear and we're ready to party—come #CelebrateWithUs! @IAMJHUD comes on at 7 PM! 🎉 pic.twitter.com/oDLOb6Lk2V
— Wawa Welcome America (@July4thPhilly) July 4, 2019
Believe it or not, this was one of our top performing tweets! Remember, be a source for important info.
No one can predict the weather, especially when event planning starts nearly a year in advance. As the voice of an event, you better come with a plan in case of an emergency. From pre-made graphics to pre approved messaging, you better have your social media emergency kit ready to go at the drop of a hat.
Of course, you may need to think on your feet — but if you’re a pro, that shouldn’t be a problem. When in doubt, play it safe and ask for help from someone on the event staff.
Pack your bags and stuff your pockets
Last but not least, you better back some snacks, sunscreen, extra socks, and maybe even a poncho or two. Sure this may not have to do with social media, but if you’re looking to operate like a well-oiled machine and send tweets at rapid speed, you’ll need to come prepared for whatever the day may throw at you.
Like I said, the weather is unpredictable and if you’re like me you cannot work if you’re hungry — granola bars will be your dearest friend. Think about the little things: hand sanitizer, sunscreen, advil, band aids etc. If you’re on your feet all day, you’ll need some everyday essentials at your disposal. Pack a survival guide (and bring enough to share if someone else needs a helping hand).
Pro tip: Embrace. The. Fanny. Pack. Seriously, they’re the best way to keep everything you need on you.
Don’t forget that every event is different and no one strategy will be the same. The biggest takeaway here is: know your event and have a plan. During my time covering the Wawa Welcome America festival, it made all the difference. With the help of their stellar staff, my team at ChatterBlast, and the benefit of having a fun, long standing brand to work with I’d like to think the project was a total success.
I hope these tips can help you slay your live event coverage — now get out there and give the people of the internet what they want. And don’t forget to drink water. Seriously. You can thank me later!