Covering Events Live in Social Media

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

Covering Events Live in Social Media

You’re hosting an event and want people to know what’s happening while it’s happening. Posting to social networks live from your event can attract attention, engage your audience, and even draw more people to your event if that is your goal. Here are some tips for conducting social media marketing live from your event.

1. Pick Your Networks

You don’t have to post everywhere live but you do want to provide coverage on your most frequently used social networks where you’ll reach the right audience. If your live event coverage team consists of one person, you can still post to multiple social networks, even from a single smartphone by toggling between apps. You can also be stationary using a laptop and mobile device.

Depending on skill level, two or three social networks is fairly manageable for someone who is dedicated to covering the event. Facebook is often the go-to social network but Twitter and Instagram can also be used live at events. Other social networks you can use include YouTube, Tumblr and even Pinterest, however, most people don’t tune into Tumblr or Pinterest live. Any social network can also serve as an archive for content you generate at an event.

2. Determine Frequency of Posting

Many of your decisions about posting frequency are determined by the social networks you use. Each social network has a different tolerance for multiple posts in a short period of time.

Posting too many things to your Facebook Page can turn people off unless you’re livestreaming video. If you aren’t going for live video, come up with a more limited schedule for posting to show highlights from the event. Start before your event with a preview to encourage more attendees or build anticipation. Follow that with a post every half hour or hour depending on the length of your event. Cluster photos and video together in albums rather than posting one at a time.

An alternative place to post on Facebook that reaches the people who have RSVP’d to your event is on your Facebook Event page, if you’ve made one. By posting to this page, you get content in front of people who have either said they are attending or that they’re interested in the event.

Twitter is much more tolerant of multiple posts in quick succession. However, you want to be selective when you tweet because you can still overcrowd a Twitterfeed. Cluster images together four at a time in a single tweet to create visual variety instead of tweeting out individual images all the time.

Use Buffer to schedule tweets that release throughout your event such as reminders of programs happening at specific times or other general “housekeeping” announcements. When you know key messages are being released during your event, you can focus on covering the activities at hand.

Instagram is a popular network to capture and upload both photos and videos from events, but like Facebook, it has a lower tolerance for too many posts at once.

3. Decide on Types of Content

The content you want to generate and post is influenced by the social networks you’ve chosen to use and also affects the equipment you need to have on hand.

Livestreaming is popular and easy to use with any social network app on your smartphone that supports streaming video such as Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Twitter Periscope and even YouTube. However, not every event should be livestreamed. Posting photos with captions or short videos on the fly from an event is still the most popular way to cover it.

When covering an event on multiple social networks, vary the content posted to each. Facebook can tolerate longer video clips and multiple photos uploaded as albums. You can also post 360-degree photos and videos if the event warrants that kind of visual coverage and if you have a camera to support it such as the Ricoh Theta.

Tweets are quick and easy to generate, and you can include up to four photos or up to a two minute and 20-second video.

On Instagram, you can post photos and up to 60-second videos individually or mix up to 10 photos and videos together in a carousel. You can also create collages of images on the spot with Instagram’s Layout feature or produce fun, 2-second looped videos with the Boomerang feature. The collages and Boomerangs you generate on Instagram can also be downloaded to your smartphone and uploaded to other social networks you’re using during your live event coverage or after the event.

4. Plan Your Coverage

You can’t be everywhere at once or cover everything when posting live to social media from an event. If you are working with a team, you can divide and conquer, giving particular assignments or specific social networks to each person to manage. Review the event program beforehand and pick the most important things to cover. Make sure all the apps you need are pre-loaded on your phone and ready to go. Even if you’re sitting in one place, set up the right apps on both your laptop or tablet and smartphone so you can easily move between applications.

Final tips? Use a hashtag specific to your event to group your posted content together and make it easier to find. Take more photos than you think you’ll need and remember to make some videos. Doing so gives you more assets to pick from when you recap your event.