How to Set Up a Live Social Media Event Feed

By Ric Shreves, Michelle Krasniak

Don’t settle for simply publishing content on the various social media channels. Go further by creating a social media aggregator to capture and display the content created by your team and your fans on the day of the event. A feed of your various social media mentions is a great tool for stimulating participation and creating a sense of fun for all involved.

An aggregator is a simple software tool that seeks out and displays all mentions of your hashtag or all the content on one or more channels. The aggregated content is laid out and shown on one screen. Aggregators typically are displayed in on event websites and live at the event.

Aggregators can be simple and affordable to create. With a little HTML skill, you can build your own by using the resources supplied to you by Twitter and Facebook. You can, for example, implement the Twitter feed widget and the Facebook Like box to create an aggregator.

A live Twitter and Facebook stream on an outdoor screen.

A live Twitter and Facebook stream on an outdoor screen.

At the other end of the cost spectrum, you can use a commercial product that aggregates social media content from a variety of channels. Following are some of the most popular products:

  • Crowd Reactive: Pulls in photos and video from Instagram, Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook. Contact the company for pricing information.

  • Eventstagram: Aggregates Instagram photos for your event. This free tool is produced by the same people who created Crowd Reactive.

  • Postano: Assimilates content from more than a dozen channels. This tool used by several large events, including South by Southwest and Coachella. Contact the company for pricing information.

  • Strea.ma: Aggregates content from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Basic plans start at $39 per month.

  • Tagboard: Uses tags to track posts across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Vine, and Google+. The service can be used free of charge.

  • Tint: Pulls social media content from more than ten channels. Contact the company for pricing information.

It’s true that setting up a live social media feed to display at your event creates more work for you. In addition to finding or creating the aggregator, you have to plan for the hardware, and you must assign people to manage and deal with any contingencies that might arise with the software or hardware on the day of the event.

Nonetheless, doing so is worth the effort because a live social media feed can enrich an event by making the event more fun and more memorable. Live social media also creates a sense of community. Additional benefits include

  • Showing people who didn’t attend what they missed

  • Gathering quotes, photos, and other collateral for use after the event

  • Providing a back channel for conversations (which is really useful for conference organizers looking for crowd feedback)

  • Giving you an alternative channel for emergency management and customer service

  • Providing a topic of discussion that further stimulates social commenting and interaction