Telling Stories with Twitter

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Guest post by Robert Bochnak

UntitledLast Saturday night—while the younger set was out clubbing and bar hopping—my wife and I put the kids to bed and then got a little crazy ourselves.

That’s right. We spent the evening organizing Legos.

Picking through mounds of tiles and throwing them (my idea) into the appropriate colored bin (my wife’s idea) got me thinking. I wondered why so many pieces were tiny (probably to piss off parents like me) and why so many of the figures were missing pieces—there’s something sad about seeing Lego Wolverine both declawed and decapitated.

These observations aside, I also thought about the organization process and its relationship to social media event coverage. In each case, the goal is to take a number of disparate pieces (e.g., Legos or Tweets) and organize them into a coherent whole, like my wife and I did (see above).

But the process of transforming social media activity into a coherent story isn’t child’s play (sorry, I couldn’t resist the bad pun) and in this post I’ll share the approach I’ve followed in my role as social media manager for the Harvard Business School’s (HBS) alumni office.

Get Storified

I’ve covered 8-10 events on behalf of HBS since I started working there in early 2013 and I’ve followed the same pre-event approach for each. A few months before an event, I research alumni who are both attending the event AND are active on Twitter (see “Social Media Event Coverage: An Integrated Approach: Part 1” for more on this research process). Once the event begins in earnest, things get very hectic, with tweets being sent and photos being posted on Facebook. My goals for each event are two-fold; I want to generate as much real-time engagement with attendees as possible AND I want create a narrative around the event. To achieve the latter, I use Storify. This is a great tool since, naturally, tweets and responses are posted at various times during an event, and Storify allows users to arrange content in chronological order; and by organizing tweets this way, I’m able to create a coherent, linear story.

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Furthermore, I’m able to provide multiple perspectives on an event; it’s not just my tweets that fill the Storify. Alumni tweet their impressions of the event and share photos of how they are consuming the proceedings. I add these tweets to the Storify and also pose leading questions to propel the engagement forward. The challenge, of course, is to get alumni involved. This can be difficult since many attendees put away their smartphones so they can concentrate on the proceedings. To address this reality, I reach out to alumni who are not at the event but may be interested in a given topic being discussed.

A prime example of this approach in action is below. These alumni had just graduated from HBS, were active on Twitter, and had gone through the FIELD program. With this data in mind, I posed the following question to them.

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I followed the same approach with these alumni.

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By involving alumni in event coverage, it allows them to “write the event story,” and it also opens up a number of outreach avenues. Once the Storify is posted, I can tweet it to recent graduates who went through FIELD, alumni interested in venture capital, and classmates of the individual alumni included in the Storify. Also, since each alumnus/a quoted in the Storify receives an “automated” tweet (see below), it increases my chances that the content will be retweeted and shared with an even larger alumni audience.

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This is just a glimpse of the way we tell stories on Twitter using Storify (for more examples go to https://storify.com/hbsalumni) and if I had one piece of advice it would be to get started on this content creation/organization as early as possible. When you have a free moment—during a break or lunch—you should sort and organize your tweets so you can publish your Storify coverage as soon as possible once an event is over.

034971e (1)Robert Bochnak manages social media for the Harvard Business School’s alumni office. He’s also the former writer and editor of GradMatters: The Blog for Tufts GSAS. 

Follow Robert on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertBoc.

 

3 thoughts on “Telling Stories with Twitter

    Social Media Matters said:
    September 9, 2014 at 1:53 am

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    Telling Stories with Twitter | MarketingHits.com said:
    September 10, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    […] Source: umbsocial.com […]

    […] Telling Stories with Twitter. Here are some great tips from Robert Bochnak who manages social media for Harvard Business School. […]

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