A Primer For Hosting Your Own Tweet Chat

Does your organization host a weekly Twitter Chat or Tweet Chat? It should. A Tweet Chat is a live Twitter event that is a moderated discussion around a pre-defined topic. By using a hashtag, the tweets can be filtered into a single conversation.

Tweet Chats expose your event to a wider audience you might not yet be able to reach. Chat participants get excited about your event because it gives them the opportunity to meet those they’ve come to know on your chat in real life. Tweet Chats are also a great way to spur content ideas you can use throughout the year.

While the conversations on a Tweet Chat are relaxed and even spontaneous, much like any event there is planning that must go with them. Here are some best practices to apply to your own Tweet Chats.

Chat Home: Create a page on your website where chat attendees can go for more information. Include scheduled chat topics, discussion questions for each topic, a bit of background on the topic, and an introduction to any guests you are having on the chat.

Topics and Guests: If you are just starting out, brainstorm with your team about different topics and guests for your chat. Your event's speakers are a great place to start.

Discussion Questions: Every good discussion has some structure to it. Create eight to ten questions that your discussion will center around. The prepared questions ensure the discussion will not wander aimlessly.

Choosing a Day and Time: Frequency of your chats is up to you. Whether you choose to have weekly or monthly Tweet Chats, you must be consistent. That means the same day and the same time for every chat. To choose the best day and time for your chat you can survey your most active Tweeters on your event hashtag to find the most convenient time.

Promotion: Once your chat has picked up some attention, your community will do most of the promotion for you. When you are just starting out though you’ll need to extend personal invitations. Tap back into those power tweeters you polled for chat days and times. Send out reminders to them on the day of the chat and ask them to invite their followers.

Greetings: As with any event, people will trickle into the chat. Take the first five minutes to ask everyone to introduce him or herself. As the community grows, this will be even more important. Those participating in the chat will want to spend time saying hello to one another. That’s a good thing, and you want to encourage it. Be sure to welcome new guests and thank frequent chatters for their loyalty. You can even start with an icebreaker question if you want to get people warmed up.

Moderating: The job of the moderator is to keep the discussion on track. A lot of moderators find it easier to pre-schedule question tweets so they can 1) stay on time and 2) dedicate the rest of their time to deepening the conversations. While side conversations may not be productive at an in-person event, it’s common and even encouraged in a tweet chat. Inside jokes and friendly banter during a chat is a sign that you are successfully nurturing a real community. Let it happen and even embrace it by joining in a bit.

Repurposing: A chat will often give you tons of valuable content you can repurpose. Post an archive of the chat to your chat home so that those who could not participate can learn from the conversation. Some chat topics or even specific questions will generate more discussions. This is great fodder for future blog posts or even session topics for your next event. You can also create a SlideShare of some of the best answers to each question.

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