How to run an agricultural event’s Twitter account

Have you been asked to run an agricultural event’s Twitter account, and you’re not sure where to start – or how to do a really good job rather than just get by?

Below are the basic essentials that must be included in an event’s Twitter account profile, plus some tips.  Some of these details may seem exceedingly obvious – however they are listed because so many event accounts have ommitted them.

  • Resist the urge to be ‘clever’ with acronyms and abbreviations; stick to the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle.
  • Remember it’s SOCIAL media. This means responding to people who tweet you questions & comments, as much as possible.

SETTING UP AN EVENT TWITTER ACCOUNT:

1. Twitter account name:

  • Keep it as short and clear as possible.

2. Name of the account owner (ie the event name):

  • Who?  The event name; in full, if possible.

If it must be abbreviated, ensure it can be understood by anyone unfamiliar with it.  And other organisations may have the same acronym as yours.  Search Twitter and/or Google to check – then ensure yours is clearly differentiated.

3. What to include in the twitter account bio:

  • When? The date, month AND year of the next event.

Including the year signals that the Twitter account is current & encourages prospective participants to read on. (The internet is littered with abandoned accounts, especially event accounts, as they are often set up by time-poor volunteers.)

  • What?
  • 1. What aspect/s of agriculture will the event feature?

For example, livestock, crop growing, machinery, policy making or research, or perhaps a variety of agricultural subjects?

  • 2. And is it an event featuring discussion (IE a conference, congress, forum, indoor workshop or seminar) or a hands-on event (eg outdoor field day, machinery demonstrations, field trials etc)? Include as much detail as possible, clearly and succinctly.

Perhaps also mention whether it’s an industry, regional, state, national or international event. But stick to embellished facts.  Mislead visitors are justifiably angry if descriptions don’t match reality.  If you’re going to state your event is the ‘world’s largest’ then research properly to ensure it clearly is.

  • Event hashtag: It’s essential to list a standard event hashtag in the bio right from the outset. And just ONE hashtag for the event.

This helps ensure attendees use an identical hashtag when tweeting, so a search will bring up every event-related tweet.  Make the event hashtag brief and easy to remember – eg the first letter in each word of the event name (eg #OFC for Oxford Farming Conference). Don’t include the year, if you would like the tweets to come up in searches after following events; or do include it, if you’d prefer clear segregation of messages.  Lastly – search twitter to see if other events have also used that hashtag.  You don’t want to discover mid conference, that an event you’d rather not be associated with is using an identical hashtag. It happens.

4. What to include in the account’s location section:

  • Where?  1. Name of the nearest town, 2. name of the region (eg county or state) AND 3. the country.

These details don’t have to be written into the bio as there’s a separate line to enter your location details.  Including this basic location information may appear to be obvious but a large percentage of event accounts do not have complete location details listed.  Remember that twitter is global – people living on the opposite corner of the planet might consider attending your event in future, or at least find the tweets interesting enough to read and retweet to others living closer.  Knowing the context/location facilitates good discussions. Don’t make the common mistake of presuming everyone knows exactly where your event is.

5. Link to an online source of further information:

  • If the event doesn’t have a website address or Facebook page you can enter here, then include a link to a trusted organisation that can reliably supply enquirers with more information. Perhaps a local tourism authority or relevant industry body.

OTHER TIPS ON RUNNING A GOOD EVENT TWITTER ACCOUNT:

How to draw attention to additional event information – 2 tips:

  • Many clever event account managers create a graphic which includes vital event information, then upload it as their Twitter account banner image up the top. But it is best to use this in addition to bio information rather than instead of, because not everyone might notice the info included in the banner image – and searches won’t pick up text used in images.
  • The second method is even easier – write a good tweet which includes vital information – perhaps including a website link or event flyer  and/or a good event image – and then ‘pin’ this to the timeline.  So everyone who visits your account on a desktop computer, will read the ‘pinned’ tweet.  It’s a good idea to use the pinned tweet to broadcast additional information, that you couldn’t fit into the Twitter account bio.

What should event accounts tweet?

  • Preliminary information about the event – where, when, what, ‘early bird’ discounts, entry deadlines, competitions & giveaways, who is attending, etc.  Pics from the previous year’s event.  Make these messages as varied as possible.  If you want to gain new followers rather than lose those you already have, don’t retweet your own messages (with the exception of a few favourites from the previous year’s event) and don’t keep tweeting out identical messages.  Most people who visit your Twitter account will check your timeline – and they’ll be very disinclined to follow you if there’s a plethora of repetitious messages to wade through.
  • Names of speakers and presenters and what they’ll be talking about.  Always include their Twitter account name, if they have one. If they’re helpful, they’ll respond to these messages and/or retweet them. (It’s a great idea to add them to a public Twitter list, as well.)
  • When the event is on, tweet quotes from event speakers and attendee comments. As above – include the Twitter accounts of anyone you quote, if possible, to maximise interaction. At every opportunity add a relevant image because tweets with images are far more likely to be noticed then read.
  • During the ‘off season’ – News regarding committee meetings, infrastructure upgrades, future date claims, sponsorship announcements, plans and changes etc are good topics to tweet about throughout the year.  BUT: prolific tweeting after an event is best avoided unless it is news that is directly relevant to the event.  Because tweets for the sake of tweets will just encourage unfollowing by people who just want to know about the event, rather than waffle or information they already get elsewhere. If an account will be inactive for a period, so it doesn’t look like it has been abandoned, it’s a good idea to tweet a ‘hibernating’ message which explains when the account will become active again (eg the date when competition entry nominations, tradefair stand and speaker applications are open.)

Linking social media accounts – tweeting links to Facebook & Instagram posts:

It’s simple – DON’T. Presume your followers are as busy as you are. Do you have time to click on endless links to other social media platforms? They don’t either. Write self-contained tweets, written especially for twitter. It’s better to send a few good quality tweets than a raft of rubbish.  If a ‘social media expert’ tells you to tweet links to a Facebook and Instagram account, have a look at their own Twitter timeline and consider who would want to follow them and read all their messages.  And ignore the number of followers an account has – a large number could just be others intent on building large followings (ie absolutely pointless followers).  When it comes to followers/friends/contacts of social media accounts – it’s QUALITY that counts, not quantity.

Hashtags:

Apart from your event hashtag, do not use hashtags in your event’s Twitter account bio!

You can only include 160 characters in your Twitter bio, so don’t squander character space & discourage prospective attendees and account followers, by irritating with keyword hashtags here.  There is far more productive information to include in the bio!

Always use the event hashtag when writing event-related tweets, plus one or two others that are relevant (eg ‘wool’, if you’re running a wool event). Then anyone searching for these hashtags will find your event account.  Never use hashtags for the sake of it – always ensure they’re relevant and not overdone.

Some examples of popularly used hashtags in rural and agricultural tweets:

  • General agriculture terms, eg: #farming #agriculture #rural
  • Industry: #beef #sheep #wool #cotton #grain #broadacre #viticulture #wine #hort or #horticulture #irrigation etc
  • Livestock breed names, eg: #Hereford, #Angus #Merino #Duroc
  • Management, eg: #conservation #sustainable #rangelands #biosecurity #agribusiness

If a ‘social media expert’ tells you to use hashtags in your bio, check out accounts that do use a lot of hashtags and think about it from a user’s point of view.  Text full of hashtags is hideous to read and it encourages people to run away screaming.  This error is a classic example of  ‘just because someone does it, does not mean it is a good idea!’

Some rural, farming, country and agricultural event Twitter accounts are superbly managed – and some need a hand. If you have any queries, don’t hesitate to contact me.  I retweet messages from many of the best agricultural and farming event accounts in the world, via @Agri_Events. I’ve seen a lot of best-practice and even more train wrecks.

A WELL RUN EVENT TWITTER ACCOUNT HAS MULTIPLE BENEFITS.  For example:

  • Encourages people to attend. Never forget that Twitter is global – and who knows might be inspired to attend your event, in future.  Individuals, or even international farm tour organisers. I have my eye on a great rural women’s conference in Canada, simply because of following their great Twitter account.  The value of agricultural tourism and global ag networking should not be underestimated and I predict that it will grow exponentially, largely due to connections made via social media accounts – particularly Twitter.
  • Facilitates further discussion and in-person networking amongst attendees and presenters (this can turn out to be the highlight of a conference)
  • Helps promote the good standing of the presenters (and encourage future presenters)
  • Brings attention to generous sponsors and volunteers
  • Promotes the industry and region
  • Great way to engage with the media. Journalists are always looking for new stories and Twitter is a major source of prospects.

AFTER THE EVENT:

A well-run ag event account will gain a substantial following and it’s a great pity to waste what has been built.  Twitter is littered with abandoned ag event accounts, not a good look, & sometimes valuable account names are left sitting idle. Don’t abandon it.

Either:

  1. Hand it on to the next social media manager for the event so they can build on what you’ve created (they’ll require the password & an email address, if a personal one was used).  Account access details should always be recorded with the official event documentation rather than only held by one individual.
  2. Close it down, if the event was a one-off & there’s no other purpose it can be put to.
  3. Evolve it into a related purpose – which includes changing the account name (easily done).  EG tweeting regarding a particular ag industry or a particular rural region. If you don’t want to do it then consider offering it to someone else to build on.  Perhaps the organisers of a similar event may be interesting in using it? My @agri_events twitter account is a great example of an account that altered course successfully. I set it up to help promote a one-off South Australian rural women’s conference. At the end of the conference the fledgling account had more than six hundred quality followers, so instead of abandoning the account I morphed it into one which specialises in agricultural events all over the world.

AND REMEMBER:

  • Resist the urge to be ‘clever’ with acronyms and abbreviations; stick to the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Stupid).
  • Remember it’s SOCIAL media. This means responding to people who ask you questions & comments, as much as possible.  If you don’t have time, ensure it’s clear where people can go to ask questions (link to a website, facebook page, organiser/industry body phone number, etc).
  • Tweet good quality, relevant images and short videos (<10-30 seconds) as much as possible. Use images to illustrate what you’re saying and grab the attention of Twitter users.  However there are some legal and ethical issues to be mindful of when creating event videos, especially live transmissions. More info on the Videoing the Public (including at events) page.
  • Be mindful of your catchment area. If it’s a small, local event, write parochial tweets specifically suited to local residents. If it’s an event that may be of state-wide, national or international interest, then write tweets that reflect a broader outlook.  If residents in other countries may be interested in your event then ensure your tweets can be accurately translated by Google.  More info on the Global Agricultural Networking page.
  • Don’t be afraid to show your personality, be humorous and include your name either in the bio (‘tweets by Bill’) or in tweets. Social media is direct person-to-person communication, and accounts run by an identifiable person get much more engagement than bland accounts sending generic messages.  The @realscientists account is the best example of a very large, very serious but also very personal account, run by identifiable people.

Additional information:

How to maximise Twitter use at events & other posts in ‘Social media and farmers’

Travel to rural and agricultural events – all around the world – via Twitter

If you are interested in following the latest news on agricultural events all around the world, follow @Agri_Events.

*Blog post written in July 2016; last edited 2019 March 13.

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