MWC's top tips for live-tweeting a conference

After our live-tweeting success at the Coastal Futures 2019 conference (we became the UK trending hashtag for a few hours, no big deal), Noa shares our ten steps to reaching the top.

1 Get ahead of the game

With the conference set to take place in late January, we set up the @CF_Conf account and #CoastalFutures19 back in November. We followed key speakers, delegates, and other relevant accounts to form an established community of contributors well before we needed them.

2 Be prepared

With our delegate notes to hand, Harriet and I spent two and a half days designing ‘message slides’ for each speaker on our graphic design platform. We scheduled them to go out as each speaker was due to start speaking (with a couple of minutes backup delay) using Buffer.

We also prepared and printed a Twitter handle cheat sheet, with all the speakers and delegates listed alphabetically to save time if we needed to mention them in a tweet, as well as a physical checklist of live tweet ideas which we could reference during the conference.

3 Be different

With the ga-zillions of tweets going online every second, yours has to stand out. And you might not want to hear this… but you have to be fun!

We set up a couple of polls (ranging from requesting responses to talks to asking delegates’ favourite sandwich flavours), which get great reception as they facilitate opinion in a simple way.

We also posted GIFs, boomerangs (with which, it seems, the online world will never get bored), and infographics. Timelapses and live-streams also allow those not at the conference to participate, giving your account and the conference sense of inclusivity.

All in all, visuals are the way forward, with 68% of online users preferring to see information rather than read it and Twitter algorithms set to favour posts including media.

Always include photos in your posts (and tag people in them), post short and informative videos if you can (try Spark Vids), and, if all else fails, decorate your tweets with a handful of emojis!

4 Start conversations

In addition to visuals, anything that might spark further discussion (especially if using your hashtag or handle) is a surefire way to increasing engagement and reach. Questions, polls, and debate topics are a great way to get people involved.

We also provided the conversation material with direct quotes (pssst - using quotation marks increases retweets by 19%!) and stats - we all love a good stat. In fact, tweets that contain a number are boosted by 18%.

5 Give people attention

Like, reply, tag, retweet. Everyone loves attention.

6 Identify the influencers

In addition to the conference host, spot any notable figures in your delegate notes and use platforms like Brand24 to see the top tweeters of any hashtag and their influencer score.

Next step - tag them in some tweets!

7 Be helpful

We posted photos of ‘Get in contact’ slides from presentations that may have moved too quickly, conference schedules in case people forgot theirs, and links to projects, surveys, research, and articles mentioned during the conference.

Take it a step further by giving background information on speakers, chairs-of-session, and topics or tips about the venue. Keep it topical, letting people know if it’s snowing outside or there’s a public transport strike (or if a supervolcano emerges in London… it could happen!)

We also put out call outs for audience questions to the speakers and gave local recommendations - delegates from further afield will appreciate the help.

8 Be human

We started the conference with a team selfie and immediately established ourselves as the social media dons. Followed by names and boomerang tweets, we were identified not only as a place where content and opinion should be directed - but also as approachable and real people, not Twitter bots.

9 Wrap up

I created a post-conference infographic on the train back from the conference, and within an hour of its closing the delegates were enjoying and retweeting the news that they had listened to 11 hours and 50 minutes of presentations and consumed 396 glasses of wine - no, not each!

Be quick and creative, provide the key takeaways, and say bye. Don’t leave them hanging!


And now for the checkbox at the end of every ‘how to’ list… Learn for next time! We know you know, but we can’t emphasise it enough.

Online analytics platforms will provide you with key stats about your top posts, which hashtags were most successful, the demographics of your tweeters, and much more. Our favourites are Tweetreach, a free platform providing ‘snapshots’ of the last 100 tweets, and Hashtracking, where you pay for one-off reports that are amazingly informative and make for lovely infographics too.

Then - with the help of this list and your own experience - you’ll be a pro live-tweeter in no time at all.

Happy conferencing!