Event Etiquette: When Should I Tweet?

By Debra Eckerling 

To tweet or not to tweet? That is the question. We live in a social world and often times that means it’s not only okay to tweet at events, it’s encouraged. But with all the meetups, conferences, mixers, and more, how do you determine when it’s good to tweet and when you should just enjoy an event … and the company of others in real life?

Mixers, Yes. Parties, No.

Most mixers and happy hours are like social speed dating, designed so people can meet, tweet, and move on.  At these events, it’s appropriate to check in on Facebook or Foursquare, tweet when you make new friends to solidify the connection, and have a conversation … you know, so you put more than just a Twitter handle with a face.

“I frequently tweet from live events, especially when they are social media events,” explains author Julie Spira, The Rules of Netiquette. “I find it’s best to let your followers know that you’ll be a bit of a twitter chatterbox in advance.”

Private parties, where you know the hosts and some of the guests, are more personal activities. Check in and tweet when you get there, maybe post a pic, and put that phone away, so you can enjoy real live, face-to-face human contact.

Tweeting Yeses

Tech conferences like SXSW and New Media Expo, seminars, panels, and any activity or event that encourages social interaction is fair tweeting game. Red carpets, celeb events, and tech parties also fall into this category.

“If a public event is promoting themselves with a #hashtag, then it is appropriate to tweet at any time,” says Blake Jamieson, social media consultant and author of Twitter for Actors. “In most cases, the people who are live-tweeting quotes from keynote presentations will get the most retweets and new follows versus those who take notes and send tweets after.”

Jamieson continues, “If the event organizers are not encouraging tweets with a particular hashtag, then I typically take notes on a notepad, and tweet in between presentations. This way, the speakers do not think I am disengaged and just playing on my phone.”

No Tweeting Zones

While conferences tend to encourage tweeting, classes and workshops are on the other end of the spectrum. It’s disrespectful to the teacher and fellow students to tweet during class …. Not to mention distracting. After all, you are there to learn.

Other major no-tweeting zones: movies, plays, and restaurants. Booksignings, readings, and performances are also inappropriate. If it seems like tweeting would be disruptive, then it probably is. However, it is fine to check in and/or tweet when you arrive at one of these venues. Why not give a shout out to an eatery or activity you enjoy! Be sure to follow and @ tag these places. If the place is social-friendly, you will probably get followed and retweeted.

In a situation where you can’t tell if live-tweeting is appropriate? Just ask the host or someone at the check-in table.

Best Rule of Thumb

Use your judgment. Go with your gut. And, if all else fails, look around. If no one else is tweeting, then that’s a good indicator that it is not a tweeting-friendly event.