You’re prepared, you’re sitting at your keyboard, everything in place and readying yourself for an avalanche of tweets – you hope. Welcome to the wildly effective and sometimes equally terrifying tool we call a Twitter Chat.
Most people have the same questions and fears going into a Twitter Chat (or prevent them from holding one in the first place). “What if no one participates?” “What if someone asks a question and I don’t know the answer?” “Do I even have any business doing this?”
Take a deep breath. Hosting your best Twitter Chat yet (or breaking out with an amazing first) is easier than you think. Start with these ten simple steps.
1. Have a clear goal. What do you want people to take away from this event? Whether you are looking to engage activists, sell a product, or persuade opinion leaders, the goal of a Twitter Chat is not just to sit and respond to random questions – you should be doing it to achieve a specific purpose. If you don’t have a reason to host a chat, then why would anyone have a reason to participate?
2. Pick a date and give notice. Unless you’re in a rapid response situation, give people a little notice so they can put your chat on their schedule – it will also give you time to promote it across your social media channels and in marketing emails.
3. Sound the Alarm. It’s go time! Give your participants a heads up that you are ready to begin. Sure you’ve carefully set the appropriate meeting time, but they’ll likely need a couple moments to say their hellos and settle in. When you’re ready to start, a simple introduction will suffice.
4. Refresh the Audience. Remind them why they put this on their calendar a month ago. People are busy and sometimes simply forget, give your participants a break and restate the purpose and topic of your chat off the top.
5. Provide your Question. You should have prepared 5-10 questions that are relevant to the topic of your chat. Don’t forget to number your questions to make them easily identifiable and equally as easy to respond to.
6. Plug your Organization’s Stance. Hey, it’s your chat! This is the perfect time to give your stance on the question at hand. It also sets the direction that the tone this conversation should take.
7. Use your Moderators. Let these trusty players help to guide your conversation. They serve the dual purpose of bringing insightful answers, remarks, or maybe even secondary questions to your attention.
8. Retweet & Expound: Share the spotlight, and the knowledge. Bring the best questions and comments to the front of the conversation by retweeting them, better yet allow them to breathe something new into the conversation.
9. Summarize & Provide Resources: Take a moment at the end of each Twitter Chat to summarize the key points of the discussion and highlight what the key takeaways. This is an excellent time to provide links or referrals to resources that may be helpful for your audience in pursuing the topic or mission further.
10. Archive: So maybe you had a Twitter Chat that is just too good to be forgotten in the vastness of the internet? Or maybe there are some thoughts there that you would simply like to save for posterity? Either way, archiving your twitter chat with apps like Storify is an excellent way to help you learn from what went right and corrects what could have gone wrong before your next big chat.