5 ways to use Twitter to improve your gaming tournament

by Matt on April 1, 2010

in Grassroots Gaming, Social Media

We’ve been experimenting with using Twitter at live game tournaments. Already it’s proved extremely useful for delivering match results which, coupled with Livestreaming, bring real-time updates of your event to those not in attendance. Several corporate tournaments use Twitter to fantastic effect – for instance, Magic: The Gathering’s live event coverage is a thing of sheer beauty. But while the big players in eSports have adopted Twitter, grassroots tournaments have not. To help, here are 5 ways to instantly improve your Twitter feed during a live event.

Aside: for this article, let’s say we’re hosting an aptly-named Super Smash Bros. tournament called the “Best Official Awesome Smash Tournament,” or BOAST.

Hosting an event entirely unrelated to grassroots gamingt? These practices still help! This is the best way I’ve found to organize a complex, constantly-updated Twitter stream for events that need to disseminate lots of information quickly. The goal is to create a feed that immerses your Twitter followers while also engaging your event attendees.

1) Use consistent formatting when reporting results.

Keep things clear and consistent in your results. You can add more tweets to pump up excitement, but the results needs to be as easy to read as possible. Include the screen name and a clear verb. You can always add another Tweet (perhaps on your primary account – more on that later) designed to stoke a frenzy about an upset. But when reporting results, keep it clear and consistent, in the same format every time.

  • Bad: “OMG Logic got beat. DrDrew is too good!”
  • Good: “DrDrew beats Logic”

Decide your verbs in advance. “DrDrew beats Logic” means something different than “DrDrew eliminates Logic”. In a double elimination bracket, you’ll be using both. “Beats” when talking about the Winners Bracket, and “Eliminates” when talking about the Losers Bracket.

Results will be coming at you fast, so don’t get bogged down in too much information. When streaming tournament results, all you need is Noun Verbs Noun.

If you’re using Twitter to announce active matches, provide all the necessary information for people to watch it. If it’s on a livestream, include the link. If not, include the station where they are playing.

But wait! Results? Announcements? Livestream links? How do you keep all of this crazy information organized?

2) Use #hashtags to organize your content

During your live event, hashtags serve two functions: to label your content for quick scanning, and to organize your feed. If someone is only interested in 1v1 results, they can search for it. Also, followers will know at a glance whether your update is a player interview or a livestream announcement.

  • Bad: DrDrew is playing Logic on the livestream!
  • Good: Now streaming: DrDrew vs Logic! #Livestream http://bit.ly/link

Keep your hashtags short and simple. #1v1, #2v2, etc. The longer the hashtag, the less room you have for the announcement – and even less for retweeting.

Hashtags are especially handy if you’re running more than one tournament at a time. They allow your followers to filter your content based on what game is being played.

Hashtags to consider:

  • Tournament format – #1v1, #2v2, #CTF
  • Game name – #Smash, #SF4, #Tek, #WoW, #Halo (remember: shorter is better!)
  • Content type – #LiveStream, #Live, #Stream, #Podcast, #Interview, #News, #Nowplaying

Then, select an official hashtag for your event. Tell all of your followers and attendees about this hashtag, and encourage them to use it while tweeting. For our sample tournament, we’ll use #BOAST.

The official hashtag encourages engagement both with your attendees and your followers. Make sure you retweet great comments that use your hashtag. Promoting your followers is a good thing! And, it further builds buzz about your event.

Bonus Tip: Brightkite Wall lets you create a live “wall” of filtered Twitter results. Set it to full screen and hook your computer up to a TV/projector, and you have a live, real-time display of your Twitter account and #event hashtag. You can use it as a display board for what’s going on (creating a live brochure), or as a way to encourage everyone at the event to participate in the Twitter stream.

3) Respond to and retweet people that are talking about your event

I mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating. If someone at the event tweets “Big name player is playing other big name player!”, retweet them. If someone NOT at your event tweets how excited they are, or if they just saw something cool on your livestream, point it out.

Of course, follow good retweeting practices.

When applicable, add a hashtag or link that explains what they are discussing.

The primary purpose of your livetweeting is to provide a service for your followers. But, this is Twitter. Even on event day you want to be promoting yourself, followers and conversations. Get people to join in, and then reward them.

4) Make an Event-Day Twitter Plan

Don’t just go into The Big Day with the intent to tweet the hell out of it. Figure out what information is most valuable to your followers. Are you targeting the people at your event? Or are you targeting everyone NOT at your event? (Hint: you should be doing both.)

Your Twitter stream serves two purposes: for people at home to know what’s going on (and spread the word – “Hey, check out the live stream!”), and as a live program guide for those in attendance to figure out what to do next.

Keeping a live Twitter up-to-date is constant work. If you’re flush with volunteers, make sure you have enough social media help. And, make sure they know what to do.

Do not assign Twitter duties to the poor soul running your bracket software! Ideally, you’ll have someone with enough availability to be constantly feeding links, results and updates. If not, you’ll have to spread responsibility around.

This means you need to have a concrete plan, and you need to communicate that plan to your volunteers. Are they expected to post live results as they come in? In what format? Do they know about your hashtags? Will your venue have internet, or are you updating via cellphone?

And finally, are all of your social media assets, such as your Facebook page and Justin.TV account, integrated with Twitter?

5) Create an alternate Twitter account for live events.

People don’t like spammed-up Twitter feeds. No, you’re not splitting your market. You’re not cannibalizing your followers. If you have marketed your event’s Twitter to provide news, updates, contests and conversations, then you probably have a lot of followers interested only in the occasional update. On the day of your event, when you’re spamming 30 updates an hour, they will unfollow you. Fast.

Create a new account, and keep it on brand. In our example, we have twitter accounts “@BOAST” and “@BOAST_Live”.

Promote the new account beforehand. Make sure all of your followers and attendees know about it. If you’re creating a landing page, the live account is the one you attach to it.

Don’t neglect your primary account! Crosspost your biggest news there. Remind your followers that you’re hosting a kick-ass tournament that day. Say “Hey, follow @BOAST_live for live updates from BOAST!”

Good luck

It’s a beast to keep up with, but once you train your team and put in the preparation, you’ll have a fantastic compliment to your livestreams, liveblogs, Flickr pools and other social media assets.

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