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This article was published on June 9, 2014

The art of live tweeting: How to provide value without annoying your followers

The art of live tweeting: How to provide value without annoying your followers

Matthew Capala is the author of  “Away with the Average,” an NYU Professor, and Founder of This post originally appeared on Matthew’s Medium blog.

You’ve heard this before: live-tweeting can increase your social media engagement, expand your network, build brand awareness and position you as an industry authority. The list goes on.

I’ve live-tweeted every conference I’ve attended for the past couple of years. I thought I followed the best practices. I would take a picture of the panel, tag speakers, use the event #hashtag and post it on Twitter.

Over the course of the conference I would get a couple of interactions and occasionally a new follower. Nothing major.

Going into 2014 I decided to take my social media presence to the next level and put the rules of the live-tweeting game to the test. First, I decided to be much more strategic about which conferences I would attend throughout 2014. Expand your horizons by going to places and events you have never been to before.

So far in 2014, I’ve attended NMX in Las Vegas, Social Media Week in New York, SXSW in Austin, and Pubcon in New Orleans.

Second, I researched all the live-tweeting tips I could find on the Internet. There are a lot. The key is to cherry-pick the best advice you can find and adapt it to the approach that will actually work for you.

Third, I read the How to Become a Conference Commando chapter of Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazi. I went deep. Becoming a “conference commando” means to plan your moves ahead.

In his bestselling book, Keith focused on in-person interactions, and left out how social media can provide an effective tool to get the most out of attending a conference. This post is meant to provide a companion guide to Keith’s great advice:

A conference is a huge opportunity to build relationships with extraordinary people, people who might have significant impact on your life and success.

To make sure that you maximize the return on your (or your employer’s) investment of time and money to attend, you can’t afford to be a conference commoner. You have to be a Conference Commando.


So, let me start by admitting that live-tweeting (done right) is indeed a great way to boost your visibility and develop relationships. The popularity of twitter’s “Wild West” approach and machine-gun style of updates lends itself to short and punchy tweets that broadcast important points covered at live events.

But, live tweeting can also annoy your Twitter followers if you make common mistakes. Reign in your enthusiasm for a minute. Some followers may have no in your barrage of industry-specific tweets. That said, start with a heads-up tweet alerting your followers about your plans, while asking your devoted community to tune-in.

It’s worth mentioning that your live tweets don’t have to be limited to the conferences you attend or the TV shows you watch. In fact, they don’t even have to be limited to organized events.

Business Insider recently reported that Lori Kilmartin, a professional joke writer who recently live-tweeted her father’s death, saw a “significant increase in follower count as people have started to follow her updates on her father’s health.”

BI further reports that she is also not the first person to live-tweet the death of a parent, NPR’s Scott Simon live-tweeted the death of his mother back in July of 2013; a loving and very emotional tribute.

The early bird catches the worm

Live tweet from the event’s opening day to capture the juiciest industry tidbits. Getting on board early is critical, because the opening keynote gets the highest visibility and the most action occurs during the first day of any event.

early twitter bird
Image via

Avoid arriving “stylishly late.” Gain followers by being the first to break stories from the opening keynote.

Frequency matters but…

Since Twitter is a timeline-based platform it is wise to tweet more than once during each session. However, frequent life tweeting can annoy even the most devoted followers.

Carefully thinking through each live tweet ensures quality updates. Tweet no more than two to three live updates during any given session.

Avoid inundating your stream with endless, pointless minutiae concerning the happenings. Your goal is toe neatly package facts and quotes into in real time, adding value by your curation. Strategically pick catchy quotes or punchy metaphors to make your tweets stand out on the event hashtag timeline.

Tweet outside the box

Creative live-tweets stand out from the social media crowded feed. Ask questions, use images, and tweet speakers’ influential quotes to draw in more followers.

Tweeting the latest sound bite spoken by an authority, especially when it’s controversial, creates the type of sharable content you will need to get ahead on the event #hashtag feed.

Rock the event Hashtag

Use event hashtags to target your audience and make it easy for fans to find your tweets. Follow the conference hashtag feed to monitor chatter.

Answer questions and engage to foster relationships with tweeters following the event. Stay abreast of feedback to better tailor your tweets in a real time setting.

Do take selfies with famous speakers

Eye candy appeals to most tweeters. Upload snapshots of expert speakers in action. Share pictures of innovative booths and happenings around the conference. Publish photos of yourself chatting with industry leaders to bolster your brand (have no shame if you want to be a commando).

Above all, add value

Tweeting quotes verbatim can bore your audience. Add value to industry-themed tweets with your insight.

For example, you might tweet a quote sharing new lead generation methods at a small business event. Expand on the quote with your personal experience regarding the new marketing approach. Have you used this technique?

Tweeting at people you met (offline) at the event fosters relationships taking them from in-personal live-tweet to a meaningful conversation. Send tweets to new connections to break up the broadcast nature of live event tweet streams. Make it personal.

Lastly, never forget the audience following you online. notes followers who have no interest in the event might be turned off by the frequency of your updates. Err on the side of quality over quantity, and to try to make your niche event tweets appear to more mainstream audience.

If you found value in this article, it would mean a lot to me if you shared it!