How To Host A Twitter Chat
Photos are rarely used during a Tweet Chat but they should be as these too will make for powerful ice breakers if chosen carefully
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It doesn't cost much and it doesn't take up too much time. A Twitter Chat or Tweet Chat is the new convenient buzz-making tool companies have recently discovered. But to host one isn't as easy as it looks. Not even for companies whose business is digital marketing. In fact, a buzz can quickly turn into a fuzz if not carefully handled.
Stick to Specifics: Choosing a wide open general topic in the hope that it will appeal to everyone is probably the biggest mistake one can make with a Tweet Chat. Right from the start, no one knows where to begin. 'We're here to talk about technology' isn't likely to work as well as: 'We're here to talk about bots as the next tech platform'. Keeping a desired end-point in mind is also useful. By the end of the chat session, what is the specific question on which opinions need to be gathered? And what is the information that needs to be put out?
Start with a Poll: If you have large enough a network to address, directly and through participants, using Twitter's Poll feature could be a great conversation starter. It can be set up 24 hours earlier so that there are enough responses and a clear trend to to generate a discussion. Choosing a question that affects many or is controversial or even emotive has a greater chance of galvanising the conversation.
Photos are rarely used during a Tweet Chat but they should be as these too will make for powerful ice breakers if chosen carefully.
Do a Dress Rehearsal: A brief try-out with as many participants internally that can be recruited is a good idea as it'll soon show what works and what doesn't. Many large news organisations carefully rehearse an entire session giving themselves enough room to control the chat while at the same time knowing how to better deal with the unexpected. Once the actual chat session is over, a good post-mortem is in order along with taking careful note of the audience that participates and what keeps the chat moving along usefully. The rehearsal also helps figure out what to do about technical glitches such as someone critical not being able to log on or dropping off.
Pace it Out: Companies should and do prepare questions beforehand and allot areas to participants and that's all very well. But it's equally important that these be carefully paced out and not be fired at the expert or experts all at one go. When participants are pulled in by design from different fields and have promised to do their bit to get the conversation going, it often happens that everyone rushes in with their questions to show compliance. Questions at the right time is more important though.
Hashtag, but Don't Overdo: Obviously one needs a hashtag to hold the activity together but forcing several hashtags leaves little room for saying anything, considering we have only 140 characters to work with. Instead, careful and meaningful hashtags should be set, specially if they are ones that are likely to be searched for later by those who weren't present during the conversation.
Marketing activities on social media platforms have become laden with cliche and look so obviously like promotion that the Tweet Chat organiser's best bet is to avoid what everyone else does and focus on solving a problem with that Q&A and use that opportunity to increase awareness.