How to make your community event trend on Twitter
Since joining the European DevRel team at Google, I have been to a few community events and supported there. The Women Techmakers Summit, which took place on June 29-30 2019 in Warsaw, was the first event which I significantly contributed to.
My role was that of the social media representative: drafting the social media strategy, informing participants via the social channels and doing the write-up. I had previously been in charge of social strategies and tweeted eagerly at a few events.
Seeing how we could make this get-together a great experience for everyone – including those following online – was a challenge I gladly took up.
I decided to go for the barcamp principle. The first rule of barcamp is to talk about the barcamp. By being there and communicating about its content one person can spread the message so much further. Imagine if several hundred are doing it!
The strategy was successful. Over the two days, we achieved 600 tweets and retweets within one week of the summit as well as 50 Instagram posts. Summaries kept showing up afterwards on Facebook and Linkedin.
On day 1 on the event, Saturday, we even trended at number 2 in the Polish Twitter trends with the hashtags #WTMSummit #WAW.
This made me immensely proud. To see what a seemingly small community can do was astounding.
Why a social media strategy?
Social media strategies help companies and organizations to set the right goals and align them with the resources and staff available. It makes sense to draft a general plan. For all those who are involved it shows when to do what and, most importantly, why it is being done in the first place.
So why do it for a community event? It is community-driven and should therefore be in the community’s hands, right? Yes and no.
In many cases, attendees want to talk about their experience but are unsure and/or seek input. Sometimes, it boils down to something as simple as letting everyone know about the hashtag.
For all those who are involved as organizers the strategy provides a clear framework of guidance for themselves and participants. It is like a symphony in an orchestra. The band could probably play on its own. Yet, it helps to have a conductor at the helm, indicating when the flutes need to start.
The most important aspect, however, is the need of the wider community and stakeholders to stay informed. If there is no plan how are people who are not able to attend supposed to be updated?
This equally goes for attendees who cannot be present in two sessions at the same time. That way, they know what is relevant to them and can decide whether to watch the video or look at the slides afterwards.
Drafting a social media strategy
There are a couple of items which should go into a strategy for an event:
- aims of the endeavor
- target group and stakeholders
- channels and media
- resources (content, pics, skills, wi-fi, sockets)
- post-event / post-mortem
Once the plan is set up, it is time to put it into action.
Involving the community
It is the community’s input and decision to communicate. Or, in many cases, not to communicate. It is idealistic to expect that every attendee uses Twitter. Or that every participate utilizes it to the degree that organizers would wish for.
Nobody should feel pressured to say something just for the sake of it.
Instead, it is crucial to show the benefits of tweeting. With it, participants help others to orient themselves. They multiply the message and thus contribute to make events happening again due to public demand.
At events, there are are people with different levels of social media experience and exposure. Just stating what the hashtag is, that tweeting is welcome and desired and that attendees are heartily invited to write a report about the event afterwards can have powerful effects.
Adding the hashtag to lanyards, the program and slides reminds attendees. Offering a photo booth and backdrop, organizing photo ops and involving social media into the community activities is the icing on the cake.
For advanced events, there is even the possibility to set up a Twitter wall, displaying content (and top tweeters!) in real time.
There are many ways to activate a crowd. The most essential one is communication, though!
Being a role model
Nothing works if the organizers themselves do not lead by example. It is their job to show the relevance of public communication and to give an insight into how it works.
Most attendees will probably tweet group pictures. What also happens frequently is that one post at the beginning or end of a session is posted and then… no more. The barcamp principle is very clear on what is tweetable:
- quotes and statements from sessions
- inspirational content
- pictures of groups and all those who agree to be shown
- comments on food, location, lineup, program, etc.
- service tweets such as (final) agenda, location maps or code of conduct
- retweets of all tweets
It is imperative to add the hashtag to every post. If, for some reason, attendees forget do not berate them. Rather, like their tweet – just like the others with the hashtag – and show that you care about each individual message.
After the event, it helps to do a thorough analysis. Was the goal of number, reach and interaction achieved? What went well, what didn’t? What can be improved next time?
Ultimately, the community will signal what it is capable of if given the chance. It is up to the initiators of the event to make sure that they have everything in place.