Covering a National Event on Social Media Event- The National Christmas Tree Lighting Event

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by Guest Blogger

in Social Media Tips

I am extremely honored to have this guest post on Tech Talk for Moms.

by National Park Foundation Social Media Manager

The National Park Foundation and the National Park Service partnered together to produce the annual national Christmas tree lighting in President’s Park. The tree was lit by President Barack Obama and his family on December 6th and nightly celebrations are scheduled at the site throughout the holiday season. For the first time this year, the national tree has its own Twitter account, and therefore the first time we had the opportunity to do a live tweet. One of the most exciting parts about working in social media is the opportunity to post real-time and of-the-moment content. Live social media coverage is valuable as it allows brands to communicate and engage with event attendees, watchers at home, as well as people who may not have the chance to tune in at all. So what does it take? A mixture of preparation, reaction skills, teamwork and imagery.

Preparing for Live Social Coverage

One thing you must have before covering a live event is an event schedule. The itinerary outlining the event from start to finish allows you to prepare posts in advance. Prepared “live” posts ensure that big moments get covered, which in turn gives you more time to add colorful, off-the-cuff tweets. With lag times, it’s impossible to write each and every tweet instantaneously. However, keep in mind that schedules don’t always run as planned. Therefore, it’s best not to load the prepared messages into automated syndication tools. Instead, use a spreadsheet and copy/paste when appropriate. Flexibility and absolute monitoring are key!

Be Prepared to Sprinkle in Ad Hoc Posts

This is a live event, and anything can happen. Be sure you are prepared to post ad hoc on something that may have not been accounted for in the initial schedule. This is important because you don’t want to sound completely scripted, and this adds a true “living” feel to the social campaign. Get to where you need to be for the live coverage early, and have everything you need for the event set up in advance such as a computer, smartphone, and/or TV with event on.

It Takes a Team

Because it’s difficult to both watch an event and write copy about it, it’s extremely helpful to have someone with you to help craft messaging or to keep you in the loop on what’s going on. So how many people does it take? One extra person to co-write is perfect and two co-pilots will still work well. However, three or more additional people in the room is just too many. With that many people, you will most likely get distracted and probably lose the distinctive voice your persona should have.

The Power of Images

When covering a live national event, it is ideal to capitalize on imagery. If you are at the event, be sure you are close enough to the action that you can take high quality photos and include them to your posts. If you are posting from your home or office and it’s a televised or streamed event, be prepared to take screenshots on your computer for instant share-ability. Posts with photos in them are proven to perform better on both Facebook and Twitter, especially now that Twitter allows for images to instantly show up in the feed.

So what does it take to cover a live national event on social media? Outside of the general social media savviness and experience, adopt a mixture of the four best practices listed above: preparation, spontaneity, teamwork, and imagery.


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