For community managers, a guide to live events

Whether it’s powering up your mobile devices or your networking acumen, here are five great tips for staying on top of your game at the next big do.

Community managers can (and must) wear different hats—those of the analyst, the author, the therapist, and the translator, to name a few. We spend countless hours researching, reporting, and redefining our strategies to manage customer relationships, but when it comes to real-time, on-the-ground engagement, it’s a whole new ball game.

Prevention and planning are key. As many of us community managers head to South By Southwest (SXSW) and other large-scale events in the coming months, it’s imperative that we keep the following tips and lessons in mind:

1. Consider logistics.

Make sure your mobile devices are juiced up and backed up; far worse than a low battery is no battery. Bring a charger, and consider investing in an additional power source, such as a backup battery or a battery-extending phone case. Look into wireless alternatives, and anticipate cell service interruptions. The more alternatives you have readily available, the better.

2. Survey the layout.

Whether you’re planning to snap some photos or get great video content or you just need a good seat to catch some quotes, doing your research can help in cases when arriving early cannot. Knowing the seating arrangements, the size of the stage, or where the podium will be located can help. Get in touch with the event organizers; they can provide details you’d never dream of. Oh, and seek out the AV director—you can thank me later.

3. Make friends.

Don’t just mingle among clients and contacts; get out there. Meet new people, make new friends, and see what’s going on outside your bubble. You’ll be surprised by the creative ideas you can come up with if you step outside your comfort zone. Plus, you don’t want just one angle, but instead an all-encompassing overview for those tuning in at home.

4. Read up.

When it comes to live-tweeting, you’ll want to know brand guidelines by heart. This not only includes any relevant hashtags and handles, but also style, voice, and tone. How do you expect to tweet on the go if you’ve got to flip through a binder of brand guidelines each time you hit send? Not only will doing your homework speed up the process, it’ll prevent mistakes.

5. Expect the unexpected.

It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Be ready to make decisions on the fly, and don’t be afraid to veer from your itinerary if the story or conversation has gone elsewhere. When capturing an event, it’s essential that you build some flexibility into your schedule. Without it, you’ll miss some great opportunities.

In addition, it’s important to have fun. You’d be surprised how much your outlook can affect your content. Keeping a positive attitude and enthusiastic approach will organically create more genuine engagements. Though we’re trained on how to take control if things go wrong, it’s equally as important to remember how to handle ongoing community management when it goes right, too.

What key lessons you have taken away from real-time community management?

A version of this article first appeared on Edelman Digital’s blog.

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