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On Becoming a Social (Media) Animal

I have never handed over the steering wheel of my blog before now. That’s not because I think I’m a ‘know it all’: I guess I figure that I’m going to be criticized for the content I might as well have written it.

For those that are frequent visitors to boilermaker.com you have seen a tremendous emphasis on our end to use the power of social media. A total rebuild of our website as well as more frequent content on Facebook and Twitter.

On occasion we have announced news via social media a bit ahead of traditional news outlets.

Clearly much of our success on the digital front has been bringing in folks who live and breathe social media- that’s where our friends at Quadsimia came in. Well over 50% of our 15k participants are between the ages of 15 to 35 a natural target audience.

Clearly Boilermaker Week is our holy grail of social media activity and we had a number of meetings talking about the run up to the race.

So without further ado, here is Britney Whitney taking over the controls: enjoy!

— Thanks Tim! I had such a blast covering the Boilermaker on social media that I used that inspiration for a blog post!

Live Social Media Coverage: The Ins & Outs of the #Boilermaker15K

Boilermaker 2015 Logo

Do you remember life before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Back when you had to wait until the newspaper printed an article or friends who attended an event returned with their printed photos? Those days are gone. Real-time, live coverage is the name of the game and event coverage has to be done on the spot. You’d think it was easy, right? I mean, most of us are on social media quite often through the day – sharing our daily accomplishments or the latest meal we had.

Well, it’s not. Not even close.

I had been handling the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles for the Boilermaker Road Race since December 2014. I felt “at home” helping runners, curating and publishing content, and providing valuable information about the race. Then May came along and Tim Reed from the Boilermaker posted a great blog post titled Madcap May and suddenly I realized that the pressure was on. Actually, I had a few realizations because not only was the race approaching rapidly but this would also be the first year to have major social media coverage of this event.

It was time to get down to business, get my ducks in a row.

Decide which social media platforms to focus on! Boilermaker may have three social media profiles, but were they all relevant in helping with the live media coverage? Will the audience enjoy the show and understand what is trying to be accomplished? What about a posting frequency, is this significant in an event like this?

I felt that all three platforms were important. I didn’t want any audience member to feel left in the dark. — One of the main reasons that a person will follow an event online is because they want to SEE everything. They want to feel as if they are there. By posting pictures in real time (with really good descriptions) to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram it can really help an online viewer feel like they are at the event.

Boilermaker 2015 Finish Line Propsal

This tweet went out seconds after the proposal. It allowed runners and fans to see it and feel it.

Put together a Dedicated Team! This part was easy. I work with some amazing people here at Quadsimia and everyone stepped up to help. (Who wouldn’t? It’s the Boilermaker!)

When one person is in charge of handling a large social media event, things can slip through the cracks. This year, Boilermaker needed to be the go-to for all Boilermaker questions and coverage.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Sort out your apps ahead of time and make sure all team members know what is being used. We dedicated a specific screen on our phones to house all the apps we would be using — this prevents accidental posting to personal accounts, because no matter how careful you think you are, it happens. It also helps to optimize time — you don’t want to miss that finish line proposal because you can’t find the correct app!

A few other tips and tricks: make sure you have enough memory and battery life. Bring extra charging cords or invest in a portable battery power bank.

Don’t forget that #Hashtag! One of the best ways to help the audience follow the event is to use a trackable hashtag. Of course, anyone could go to the Boilermaker profile and see all of their tweets, but by using the hashtag (#Boilermaker15K) it allows others to be involved with the conversation.

The hashtag can also be useful weeks after the event. You can use sites like #tagboard to generate a fun and visibly appealing board (see image below) of all hashtag usage.

Boilermaker 2015 Tagboard

It’s game time! Boilermaker weekend tends to be one of the hottest weekends of the summer. No matter what type of event you are covering make sure that you are prepared: I brought extra bottles of water and a few granola bars. I didn’t want the heat and humidity to impact my performance. I might not have been out there running but I still needed to be prepped and ready.

Get there early … you want to make sure you have enough time to get the best view. Don’t be afraid to politely ask people to pose for photos or move out of the way for that perfect shot. It might feel awkward at first but eventually it will become second nature. It is better to have too many photos and videos than you think you’ll need.

Include as much event signage and swag as possible, and don’t forget the sponsors! This year, we offered a “Selfie Station”. This helped get the Boilermaker logo and hashtag all over social media. Kids and adults alike lined up to partake in all the fun.

Boilermaker 2015 Selfie Station

Most importantly, relax & have fun!

Have you ever covered a live event? What tips and tricks would you recommend?

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