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5 Tactics to Live Weibo (Tweet) an Event

  |  July 28, 2011   |  Comments   |  

Sharing what I learned from microblogging at Swarovski's fashion event in Beijing.

Event live tweets are nothing new, but real-time tweeting that complements with live photos and video can be quite a challenging experience. Recently, I attended an event of the prestige crystal brand Swarovski in Beijing. It was a fashion show in addition to live music and circus arts performance while showcasing the brand's fall/winter collection. Our agency was lucky to be responsible for online broadcasting this glamorous event through both microblog (Weibo) and live video stream.

I summarised some basic tactics learned through this experience. Some of these tactics are applicable to both Twitter and Weibo, but some aren't. Nevertheless, I believe it would still be beneficial for you to either refresh your memory or be aware of for your next event.

  1. Create an event hashtag. You may think this is really basic; I still see marketers missing it. An event hashtag not only help keeps your audience posted about the related topics, but also makes your life easier to track the conversation stream. You can always start by using an abbreviation or a short form in English of your event's title. However, while you can express more within 140 characters in Chinese than in English, creating a short and easy to remember hashtag in Chinese is actually quite challenging. But the rule of thumb in creating a hashtag is still similar. Keep it short and sweet. The hashtag format in Weibo is slightly different from Twitter. It has to start and end with a # symbol.
  2. Plan first, improvise later. Don't get me wrong. I am not asking you to pre-script the whole event action by action. But you should at least develop a content plan. Especially if you are working on the agency side, you are much better off to get consent with your client beforehand. During the content development process, you and your client would probably realise how dull it can be if you just microblog throughout the event minute by minute.So don't make yourself sound like a mediocre TV host who simply describes whatever she has seen. Your tone of voice can be interactive and inviting. If your performers have made any interesting statement, quote them and weibo it immediately. For example, when pop singer/guest performer A-Mei at the Swarovski Beijing Live event teased the audience by asking if her dress was pretty, I immediately took a picture, uploaded it, and simply said, "A-Mei asked if she is pretty, forward this post if you SAY SO". I received almost 100 responses within a few minutes
  3. Follow the conversation trends. In the Twitter world, you can use third-party apps such as TweetDeck or Hootsuite to not only to schedule your tweets, but also to monitor trends by keywords or hashtag in an organised manner. However, in the Weibo world, you are not as lucky as Twitter yet, as there aren't any Weibo apps as sophisticated as the Twitter ones, you have to look for the relevant posts manually.To minimise hassles, I suggest you work out a list of relevant keywords and Weibo accounts (the V.I.P., performers, and even the performers' fan club) in advance. And it would be even better if you could have them follow your official branded account before the event (in Sina Weibo, there is a function where you can send a direct message to an account to invite for following). If not, even if you want to post @them, they won't see your post on their Weibo walls.
  4. Engage with the power users. After you have come up with the above list, besides updating your official Weibo posts, you should also have at least one additional dedicated person to help actively search if any of the V.I.P. or participants have mentioned the event on Weibo. Once you have identified, you should actively reply or repost their Weibo posts through your official Weibo account accordingly. This content would be potentially even more welcomed by the audience than your official posts. It has to be as spontaneous as possible. Timing is crucial; people would be much happier to see if their Weibo posts were being responded to immediately.During the event, we also kept reminding those who can't attend to visit our live video stream page in order to boost web traffic. As the event was leading to a climax, it was also important to increase the frequency of the posts. You also have to be multi-tasking; to continue the momentum, you need to keep more than one conversation rolling simultaneously.
  5. Picture, picture, picture. As in all Weibo marketing, every post should complement with a nice picture. Too busy writing the posts and no free hands to take pictures? Then you should consider a support team with one professional photographer and a backstage runner or you could consider investing in some wireless photo transfer tools. But we chose the former manual way, partly due to the location constraint. We had our photographer taking pictures in front of the runway. For every five to 10 minutes, our backstage runner would deliver the photographer's memory card back to our control stage. Then we quickly screened the best shots, resized, and attached them to the respective posts we prepared earlier. The logistics need to be planned carefully in advance. Practice makes perfect.


The whole Swarovski Beijing event lasted only 45 minutes, but the pre-event planning and preparation effort was enormous. Nevertheless, the live weibo-ing of this event paid off for the brand in three key aspects:

  1. The boost of traffic for the live stream video page.
  2. The acquisition of quality new followers on Sina Weibo.
  3. A high level of consumer engagement through the 'micro' conversations before and after the event on Weibo.

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Rudi Leung

Rudi Leung is general manager, director of digital and social at Tribal DDB/ DDB Group Hong Kong and Guangzhou. He was formerly director of communication planning at AGENDA, an interactive agency network under the WPP/Wunderman group in Asia. He is also an exco member of Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing. Rudi previously held roles as VP of Carat Media Services, creative ambassador of Yahoo HK Media Services, and creative director of TBWA\Tequila\HK. In addition to his extensive experience as a creative director and copywriter in numerous leading 4As ad agencies including Ogilvy & Mather, Leo Burnett, and Bates, he has gained wide exposure in advertising for numerous MNC and local advertisers in the last 18 years. Besides advertising, Rudi is a part-time lecturer of HKU Space since 2007. In his leisure, Rudi is an active blogger and columnist of ClickZ, e-Zone, HK Economic Journal, and MetroPop Weekly. He holds an MBA from Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from UC Berkeley Extension, and Bachelor of Arts in Music from Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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