Let’s face it, social media can be overwhelming. The pressure to engage, connect and share is intense. As researchers, communication professionals, content curators, you are not exempt from this endless need to share, share, share.
To make matters worse, you’re expected to do this across different platforms and at varying events. One day you are at a conference on science and technology, the next you find yourself at a livestock workshop. While these two events have very little in common, you are still expected to tweet a few times and take one or two pics.
You’d rather engage in the content of the conference, but you also appreciate the unique reach that social media has. You’ve seen social media work, so you’re willing to go that extra mile and use the conference hashtag, retweet fellow colleagues, and share some of the day’s most interesting reflections.
However, there is one slight problem: your Twitter audience doesn’t actually care about every event you attend. You’ve followed all the rules, built a loyal audience of followers who are interested in your niche area, but sometimes you’re required to engage on a topic your audience isn’t necessarily interested in.
How do we reconcile the tension between the content we are engaging with in the room vs the expectations of our wider audience? How do we align our multiple personalities, to ensure that the audience and image we have painstakingly created helps to engage our followers with content they may not naturally be interested in?
Here are 5 tips on how to tweet at conferences and bring your audience along with you:
- Know your identity and stick to it – Every Twitter account has a unique personality. You’ve probably spent many hours building up a persona, such as a topical expert, critic, jokester, information provider, quotable quote generator, etc. Just because you’re at an event it doesn’t mean you leave this person behind. Your audience probably responds to who you are, so always remember to insert that persona even when you’re out of your comfort zone.
- Give context to your tweets – If you’re attending a conference on water and sanitation, make sure you clearly let your followers know what you’re up to. Seeing multiple tweets on water and sanitation when you usually tweet about gender issues can be confusing for your followers, so take the time beforehand to build up your event and say why you are there.
- Use the conference hashtag – This may sound like a no-brainer, but it is important to ensure that your followers know that your tweets are part of a larger conversation that they too can follow and join in.
- Less is more – A really easy way to put off your audience is to dramatically change your tweeting patterns. If you usually tweet once a week then you are suddenly tweeting 20 times an hour, you may lose some of your followers. Try to be consistent in your habits. You don’t need to tweet everything you hear. You can reflect on the content and put together a more thoughtful tweet on the session or on the day, rather than multiple random pieces of information.
- Make it relatable – Knowing your audience is the golden rule of good communication. Twitter is no exception. Try to link the content you are engaging with at this particular event to topics you usually engage on. If you are a gender expert at a water and sanitation conference, share the gender aspects of water and sanitation issues. Ask yourself, ‘Why would my followers engage with this conference?’, then give them something they are likely to be interested in.
- Make new friends – Every conference is an opportunity to engage with a new audience and broaden your reach, so tag new friends, retweet the best of the rest, and engage with others in the ‘virtual’ room.