Live tweeting can be intimidating to small business owners. Have you forgotten the infamous “tweeting with mittens” debacle J.C.Penney experienced during the Super Bowl?

I can understand why you might be hesitant to allow one of your employees to take over your Twitter account, but don’t let this fear cripple you. You are missing a golden opportunity to communicate with potential customers and other small business owners by refusing to live tweet. I’m sure you have a lot of questions about when, where and why your small business should live tweet and I’m here to give you some answers.

When Should You Live Tweet?

There are appropriate times to live tweet and there are inappropriate times to live tweet. For example, if you are at a business conference and you’re listening to a speaker who is giving great advice that you want to share with your Twitter followers, by all means tweet away. If you’re at grandma’s funeral, avoid your phone altogether.

Use your best judgement. You can live tweet whatever you want from your personal twitter account, but not from your business’s account. Never forget that your company’s Twitter account is a direct reflection of your business! I’m talking to you J.C.Penney.

Where Should You Live Tweet?

Most small business owners will be live tweeting from networking events, marketing seminars or their very own business functions. Since you will be tweeting from your company’s Twitter account, make sure your tweets are centered around the useful information you are learning from the event. Use the event’s hash tag (the pound sign with a bunch of words after it, i.e. #2014WinterOlympics) so your tweets can get more visibility. This also allows you to interact with other Twitter accounts  using the same hash tag. If this is your event and you are the main speaker, have a coworker do your tweeting for you.

What happens if you are speaking at an event across the country and your coworker can’t travel with you? How are you supposed to live tweet? There is a simple solution. Give your coworker a copy of your presentation. Make sure they know the exact date and time of your presentation. Have your coworker either schedule tweets in advance so they post during your presentation, or have them live tweet while you are presenting. This allows your coworker to respond to comments for you while you are giving your presentation.

Make sure to be careful if you try this tactic. You MUST alert your coworker if the day or time of your presentation changes. You don’t want tweets posting on your Twitter feed for an event that hasn’t happened.

Why Should You Live Tweet?

Live tweeting is a great way to position your company as a leader in your field. It allows your Twitter followers to learn more from you and learn more about you. This also makes your company more visible to new customers who might not have seen your account before. Just keep in mind a few guidelines when live tweeting:

  • Keep your tweets short. I know 140 characters isn’t a lot to work with in the first place, but the shorter the better. This allows people to easily retweet you and give them enough room to tag you in the tweet. This also allows them to use the event’s hash.
  • Speaking of tagging people in your tweets, make sure you acknowledge the speaker in some of your tweets. If you don’t know their Twitter handle, mention their name. It’s always nice to give credit where credit is due.
  • Respond to people mentioning you in their tweets. This is an excellent way to start a conversation with someone. Don’t alienate potential new customers or business partners.

Live tweeting is supposed to be fun, not frightening. You don’t have to tweet every single thing you hear or see at the event, so don’t overwhelm yourself. Don’t be afraid to interact with other people on Twitter. You never know who you might turn into potential customers.

In related news: Live tweeting was definitely part of the Oscar experience this weekend.  The Wall Street Journal had some interesting perspective on people live tweeting, who were the winners and losers in the battle for social recognition.