Two weekends ago, I had the opportunity to live-post the Make a Promise Gala at the Wisconsin Center for the special events sector of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. I’ve been taking photos for the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin for about three years now, capturing their AIDS Walk at the Summerfest Grounds in downtown Milwaukee every October.
My friend, who works for the ARCW, asked if I would live-post this event, and I was thrilled. I’ve always been a fan of interacting on social media, and I’ve always thought live-tweeting would be a blast.
It was, for the most part. I learned a lot. Like what worked and what didn’t. What I would do differently for next time.
Granted, this wasn’t a huge event, and I was only posting on two platforms (Instagram and Facebook), but I felt like I had a lot of responsibility. Live-posting is a lot like note-taking, except on social media where anyone can see it. As a first time live-poster, here is what I learned:
Wear a dress or skirt with pockets. I wore my trusty black Forever 21 skirt with pockets, a black long-sleeve top, black tights and black heels (nothing more professional than all-black). I filled my pockets with my cell phone, chapstick, pen and shot sheet. I didn’t want to lug around a purse, so having pockets came in really handy during the event.
Wear comfortable shoes. I have yet to find a pair of heels I can wear – and not only wear, but stand on and walk – for at least three hours straight. Do those kind of shoes even exist?!
I didn’t want to wear flats, you see. There’s something to be said about heels. Even a one-inch heel does something to your body. You stand up straighter, walk more confidently, and get a calf workout without even realizing it. My feet were killing me after a couple of hours, so if I ever do this next time, I’ll have to choose between comfort or style.
Create a shot sheet. I learned this trick when I interned for Andrejka Photography on Mackinac Island. She would print us out a couple sheets of paper with specific shots the bride and groom wanted. Family pictures can be broken up in so many different ways, and if the couple wanted photos with their extended family, it is 10 times more intense. We usually has a list of at least 30 shots, and that was just for family photos!
For the Make a Promise Gala I knew I had to photograph the registration area, silent auction, then dining room for the program, as well as candid and group shots along the way, so I had a note sheet and would write notes when needed.
Understand the rules. Before the event, my friend who works at ARCW told me a couple of things to keep in mind – don’t post anything about the dining room or post-program dance floor before they happen, so when guests see each of the rooms it will be a surprise. I never would have known this and appreciated the notice.
Bring an external battery charger for your cell phone. As someone who wants to be a social media manager one day, all I’ve ever wanted in life is a portable battery charger. I know it’s as easy as going to US Cellular and buying one, but I always forget. One would have come in really handy at this event, as my battery was almost dead by the end of the night.
Drink lots of water. I’ve been trying this new thing where I drink a few liters of water a day. I mean, I spent like $15 on a nice Camelbak water, I might as well use it. I didn’t realize how thirsty I was going to be during this event, and while everyone else was sipping on cocktails I was chugging down a bottle of water the nice bartender gave me. If you bring a purse or camera bag with you, stash a bottle of water in it. Oh, and eat before the event. A grumbling tummy is not professional.
Utilize the hashtag. What is live-posting without a designated hashtag? I was always sure to incorporate the hashtag (#MAP15) into every post, and I encouraged guests to use the hashtag as well.
Don’t be afraid to go up to people and ask if you can take their photo. Many people will be flattered, if anything. I’m so shy sometimes it’s painful, so I was a little out of my comfort zone at this event. But people like looking at photos of other people and I wanted to make sure most of my photos were of the guests.
Be creative. I know, easier said than done, right? It’s somewhat easy to create a content calendar for your client when you have a week or two, but it’s another thing to think of creative content on the spot. My advice is to figure out the voice and theme of the event and client and go from there. If you’re live-posting for a client solely for this one event, research their past posts and see what kind of voice they have – if it’s serious and formal, or fun and casual.
Interact with the guests, both in-person and online. As a proud introvert, I would much rather communicate over e-mail, social media or text (as I’m writing this I realize something may be wrong with me).
At this event I understoodit’s just as important to talk with guests in person as it is over Instagram and Facebook. I was their social media representative and I knew it wouldn’t look good if I was sulking in the corner editing my photos, crafting clever posts in my head and avoiding eye contact. It was important for me to get out there, snap a bunch of photos, and encourage guests to post and use the hashtag.
And as a bonus tip, don’t forget to say thank you at the end of the night!
While it would have been so fun to actually attend the gala, I still had fun by myself. I loved volunteering at this event, but I knew it would be a lot for me. A lot of people, noise, crowds. I couldn’t wait to get home, switch my heels and dress for sweatpants and socks, watch a little Lawrence Welk and unwind. I’m an old soul and proud of it.