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by Amadeus Finlay

Humans are impulsive, reactionary creatures with a tendency to act without thinking… and Twitter knows it. Founded in March 2006, Twitter is designed to convey simple messages with the intention of rapidly conveying and spreading a single idea, or driving traffic to an external source. Which makes the art of the tweet a little more complex than the standard Facebook/LinkedIn-type post. Not only is the user restricted to 280 characters (more below), but must make intelligent use of hashtags and tagging in order for it to make any sort of impact. And with an average of 500 million tweets being sent each day, the competition to stand out is fierce.

Sound restrictive? Perhaps, but it was once far more difficult to operate Twitter than it is today. Until September 2016, Tweets were limited to 140 characters, with images and videos counted against the character limit. Accordingly, users were forced into highly creative solutions just to get a simple message across, and the result was a noisy platform littered with jargon and hideous abbreviations. For instance, while today we can post the following along with an image, “#Breaking: @ExhibitCityNews Becomes First Tradeshow Magazine to Send Writer into Space (thanks @NASA). More: https://bit.ly/F4k3L1nk #eventprofs #news”, in 2016, the same Tweet would have looked something like this, “#Breaking @ExhibitCityNews Becomes 1st Tradeshow Mag. 2 Send Writer in2 Space: https://bit.ly/F4k3L1nk #news” Not only does the 2016 post read poorly, it fails to acknowledge the second party involved in the story. Thank goodness for progress.

Today, Twitter is a company on the tip of everyone’s tongues. Rarely a day goes by without a political barrage coming out of Washington, and frequently these barrages come in the form of a Tweet. As a result, all eyes are on the little blue bird, but that doesn’t always equate into a positive. According to Statista, the platform’s monthly active users peaked at 69 million in Q1 2018, but that number progressively dropped quarter by quarter to 66 million in Q4. The last time the number was that low was Q2 2016. Worse still, the company’s NYSE share price has dropped consistently since April 2015, reaching a low point two years later, slowly climbing until June 2018, after which it began to steadily drop again.

However, all this damage doesn’t mean the platform is dead, far from it. In fact, according to AdWeek, 93 percent of industry professionals rate Twitter as the most useful social media tool for engaging with events. Having said that, it would be wise to calculate just what you wish to achieve with Twitter… and my suggestion is bait. Twitter users aren’t there to linger. Consider the platform to be like a tabloid newspaper; a visually-rich medium packed with meaty headlines designed to hook the reader. Drive those scrolling eyes to your content with something utterly compelling, and remember to use hashtags to ensure they do so. Why? Twitter users rely on this useful tool to wade through the endless threads and quips, or else they’d never find anything. Set up your Tweets for success with hashtags that your audience is likely to search for. Top hashtags for the event and tradeshow industry include #eventprofs #eventpros #eventmanager #eventtech #eventmarketing and #meetingprofs, with supporting tags such as #innovation and #creativity good ones to throw in, too.

Twitter is also an excellent wrangling tool on the exhibit floor. Most shows have their own hashtag, meaning there’s  potential for real-time conversations via the platform, as well as the rapid conversion of digital to in-person relationships. And it works. During ISC West 2018, Tweets containing the hashtag #ISCWest were seen by 435,781 different users. To put that in context, 30,000 individuals attended the show.

Finally, some top tips. Twitter, like everything, has its own set of peculiarities, and these are non-negotiable. One of the most troublesome are their rules around video. Currently, Twitter only supports MP4 and MOV video formats on mobile apps. On the web, you are even more restricted; the only formula currently accepted is MP4 with H264 format and AAC audio. Furthermore, users can only upload videos up to 512MB, and must be no longer that 2 minutes and 20 seconds length. Another Twitter essential is the platform’s hatred of spam. Twitter Jail is a real thing, and suspends your account for 48 hours. Avoid getting in trouble by posting and sharing relevant content, only commenting on threads to which you or your business can add value… and whatever you do, don’t share spurious images of cats, dogs or your mate Dave (there’s more of that than you might realize).

Want to ruffle some feathers? Pop on Twitter and get chirpy; you never know who you might just bump into. After all, Twitter is an open forum where you can tag and (theoretically) chat with anyone. So, get strategic, crack an egg and see what happens. You might just get into a conversation with a real-life big bird. Try it for yourself! Contact us at @ExhibitCityNews

Having worked with Groupon, IBM, Nordea, and others, Amadeus Finlay is a global connector of people and brands. He has extensive experience in professional copywriting, social media and script-to-screen video production, including on-camera hosting. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, he holds a Master’s degree in American History. Connect with him at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amadeusfinlay/

This story originally appeared in the May/June issue of Exhibit City News, p. 16. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecnflipbook_mayjune_2019_web

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