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BLOG: Social media and live coverage

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AKRON — Before becoming a reporter for Tire Business, I worked night shift. I loved it because on my nights off, I would watch every TV show imaginable that I had DVR'ed throughout the week.

This led me to watch a lot of TV shows—some amazing, some awful. My big dilemma was that I was watching all these shows that no one I knew watched and, thus, I had no one to talk to about them.

OK, it wasn't a huge dilemma, but everyone knows what it's like to watch a show and not be able to talk about it the next day!

This is when I welcomed the hashtag and the power of live tweeting into my life.

And even better, now that I have been at Tire Business, understanding this has helped me with my work. It has taught me the importance of live coverage, which is what we are going to get into today. I guess all that TV watching came to good use.

I wanted to first define what live or "real-time" coverage is. Real-time coverage is when people are posting about something as it is happening. This allows anyone to be able to track an event or topic they are interested in. This ranges from TV shows to Twitter parties—a virtual conference held on Twitter where a panel of experts answers questions and interact with those "attending" the part—or any kind of event.

The hashtag search function on social media has made this a simple process, whether you are at the event or following from home. Although Facebook added hashtagging to its platform a few months ago, Twitter still has the edge on real-time coverage.

When watching TV, there are people who tweet their thoughts about what is going on. For instance, during Sunday night's TV line-up, people were tweeting with the hashtags #OnceUponaTime, #Revenge, etc. as they watched. If you followed those hashtags, you could see what people were saying about the shows.

This is used for events so that both people attending and those who are following from home can get up-to-date snippets of information instantly. As the industry gears up for the SEMA Show in Las Vegas next week, I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about how to follow and post information "live."

Even if you are not going to SEMA, there is probably something that will be launched or some kind of information being released that you would be interested in. Social media can a quick-paced vehicle to get that information out to you.

The great thing about hashtagging is that people start talking about events before they happen and keep the conversation going after the event closes. For example, I have been reading all about the people who will be attending SEMA, both exhibitors and attendees.

I have gotten a heads-up on different booths I want to visit and different things to look out for. How you ask? Because I have been tracking "#SEMA2013" on Twitter for about a month or so. It takes me about five minutes a day to catch up on what people are talking about.

So if you are interested in what is happening at SEMA next week, you can track #SEMA2013 and #SEMAShow—those are the two most popular hashtags people are using for the event that I have seen—and get different perspectives on the show. If you are interested in live coverage, try checking out Twitter this week and look up the hashtags and see what kind of information is already being posted before the event even begins.

Wondering how much activity will be streaming? Check out #SEMA2012. As stated, one of the greatest benefits to social media is how quickly and easily-accessible the information can be. Social media also houses that information for years to come. This is great for research purposes and acquiring information.

At the root of it, the real-time coverage aspect of social media allows you to stay on top of the latest news, especially from large events—such as SEMA or the International Tire Expo & Conference (ITEC). This will in turn allow you to get the word out on relevant information for your followers on social media and also customers in your store.

Don't forget that if someone is tweeting out information about a specific seminar or meeting at the event that you want more information about, you can always click "reply" on their tweet and ask a question. This can get you the information you need and also help with your engagement.

I also wanted to note that since you are following the hashtag and not a specific company, you will probably find a lot of different people and companies that you might want to start following. If there is a new product that you are interested in and you see the manufacturer is actively posting information about it on Twitter, then you might want to start following them. That is information that you want now and will probably continue to want in the future.

Live coverage is a great networking tool because everyone who is posting and following the hashtag is there for a common interest.

On the flipside of this, if you are a business owner who is attending SEMA next week, make sure you start using the #SEMA2013 or #SEMAShow hashtags. This can help your exposure and help build your following because you will be sending out relevant information for anyone following the hashtag.

Tire Business will be tweeting live from the show through @TBNewsPoint and updating regularly on tirebusiness.com, Facebook and Google+.

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