Live Blogging for Dummies: 4 Tips for a Successful Live Blog
The practice of live blogging is getting more and more attention these days. People seem to have a never-ending thirst for information- the faster, the better. A single blog post about an event after-the-fact might be simply too little, too late.
With a wide range of live blogging tools and many helpful voices around the ‘net, it may not be long before you perform your first live blog. To help you out, we’ve put together 4 essential tips for a successful live blog experience.
Tip #1: Know your audience (a.k.a. Do you really need to live blog the event?)
Before you invest valuable time learning live blogging tools and attempting to live blog a real event, ensure the result will be useful to your audience.
- Who, exactly, is your audience? Just you? A small, private group of people (such as your company or press team)? Hundreds or thousands of people on your public site or blog? This will determine the tools and level of process you’ll need to successfully cover the event.
- Does your audience really need the live coverage, or would a summary suffice? With a standard blog post, people can skip over content they don’t care about (possibly even the whole article). This can be a very positive thing for you as a publisher. People like having things summarized and laid out for them, and like being able to ignore information they don’t care about.
- Will your audience be available? If the event is happening during typical school or business hours, most people simply won’t be able to tune in, and it may be better to go with a standard article they can view at a time that’s convenient to them.
Tip #2: Pick the right live blogging tools for the job
There are plenty of tools available to help you with live blogging. The key is to pick the right one. Here are a few of the tools available to you:
- Email and Instant Messaging – If your audience is a small private group, regular email and IM can be a good solution. Upside: it doesn’t require any set-up, and everyone understands it. Downside: email is not truly live, and most email and IM systems are text-only.
- Microblogging Tools – Microblogging tools like Twitter can be valuable for live events, in particular when your audience is larger. Upside: these services offer powerful filtering capabilities and the ability to use the service via mobile phones. Downside: the tools can be challenging for some users, which may or may not be a barrier depending on your audience.
- Dedicated Live Blogging Tools – Dedicated live blogging tools such as CoverItLive have been improving in quality and popularity. Upside: these services offer a wide range of features specifically designed for live blogging, such as polls, media, and replaying. Downside: dedicated tools can have a steeper learning curve.
- Live Community Tools – Services like Chatroll can offer the best of both worlds. Like email and IM, everyone understands the live chat feature of live communities. Upside: live communities combine the simplicity of live chat with the richness of more advanced tools. Downside: the live chat is open to your audience, so audience moderation could be an issue.
With such a wide range of tools, picking the right one can be a challenge. As always, put your audience first. Pick the tool that best suits their level of technical ability and their need for advanced features.
Tip #3: Prepare (and be mindful of the event organizers and other attendees)
Prepare by doing a test run using your tools of choice. Ensure your audience knows where and when the live blog will take place. With Chatroll, for example, you could embed the live chat directly on your site and give your readers a specific time to attend.
Check with event organizers before live blogging an event. Respect their legal rights and other event policies. The NCAA was reported to have blocked live bloggers from baseball games. Also consider your equipment- is it permitted? Depending on whether you plan to stream live audio or video, you may have more than just a laptop: check that any cameras and/or microphones are good to go as well.
Be mindful of the other event attendees. Will people around you be distracted by your typing? If there is a lot of audience interaction, will you be able to fully participate with other audience members?
Tip #4: Learn from others’ experience
Live blogging is a whole new kind of activity, and people are still learning how to best live blog an event. Luckily, a wealth of resources can be found all over the internet. Here are a few we’ve found valuable:
- Live Blogging Tips – Lee Odden
- Liveblogging Best Practices – Jeffrey Keefer
- The Art of Live Blogging – Beth Kanter
Live blogging is poised to change the way people follow live events. From conferences, technology events, and product launches, to political debates and sports events, live blogging has the potential of letting people be “present” without physically being there. This can enable a whole new means to engage with your audience.