How to use liveblogging to promote retail events

By Jacqueline Zenn, social media strategist with the Chicago-based social media agency SociaLogic.

Liveblogging has huge potential. It's a novel and extremely engaging way for brands (and individual bloggers) to deliver interesting content that readers value.

Companies hosting events want to make the most of them – and that includes sharing the experience online. Liveblogging offers an opportunity to position your company as an engaging thought-leader. It's also an opportunity to be seen as a first mover in digital channels that thrive on speed and flexibility. It can result in some earned media coverage, thanks to your generosity of access, and lightning-quick wit, which we're sure you can hire out for, if you don't have that kind of firepower lying around.


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There are great tools out there that make liveblogging easy to set up. Software platforms like CoverItLive and ScribbleLive allow for an online experience that replicates the interactive experience of a panel Q&A or roundtable discussion. Blogging CMS systems like Wordpress often include plug-ins that allow for speedy blogging during an event. And there's also the simple option of using a custom hashtag for visibility on Twitter.

There are a variety of methods you can use to publicize your live blog; post about the event on social media accounts in the weeks leading up to it, come up with a custom Twitter hashtag, or even offer up some unique rewards or opportunities for users who participate.

Liveblogging can take place over the course of a short, one-time-only event, or it can be an essential part of a larger happening. One great example on the grander scale is Chicago Ideas Week. The seven-day event was designed to bring together the best and brightest minds from around the world. On Twitter, a simple search for the #CIW11 hashtag resulted in scores of tweets about the grey-matter-packed discussions occurring simultaneously all over town. A closer look at the conversations revealed a growing trend: brands actively joining individuals, talking about the events as they happen.

Brands that live-tweet their own events, such as Macy's, are becoming part of a major trend in the digital world. Short-term events, like the Macy's live-stream of Taylor Swift's in-store concert, are a fantastic opportunity to connect with a broader audience. While viewers may not be able to visit Macy's in NYC, they can take part in the experience online. In September, Burberry was one of the first brands to tweet otherwise clandestine behind-the-scenes photos of their London Fashion Week show to followers – a way for the giddy general public to access this exclusive event, which resulted in plenty of positive earned media.

Recognizing the considerable marketing potential of live-tweeting events, brand managers can often be tempted to jump in without considering a few essentials: tactics, strategy, and logistics. Consider the following factors to successfully harness the brand-building power of liveblogging, become a thought-leader, and generate lots of earned media love:

  1. Staff Appropriately. Active engagement relies on the right kind of person behind a brand's social media presence. Your brand's Wizard of Oz (spoiler alert) should be enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and have a penchant for detail. People want to engage with and listen to brands with personality, and whose interests are in line with their own.
  2. Promote. Publicize that your brand will be attending and live-tweeting an event via your social channels and website(s) leading up to the event, including regular reminders as the event approaches. Don't forget to follow-up with an in-depth blog post for the users who missed it live.
  3. Be Visible. Hashtags are the most commonly used method for people on Twitter to find information about events as they happen, so make yours short and sweet. Don't forget to include it in all your event-marketing materials as well. #duh
  4. Plan Ahead. Find out if the host venue has the technology necessary for live-tweeting the event if you'll be there in person. Ensure you have reliable technology in place no matter where you'll be liveblogging from, including access to steady WiFi or 3G service if needed.
  5. Mix it Up. Include photos, direct quotes from speakers, and even short videos in your coverage – it will make the audience feel more connected than following a stream of text.
  6. Feel the Flow. All things in moderation – social media included. Keep your posts concise, and share only the most important parts of the even, and leave readers wanting more. Making an outline of important happenings at the event before hand to keep you on track. And most importantly: Listen to feedback from your followers.

(Photo by Sue Richards.)

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