To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Lasa ICT Knowledgebase, we recently hosted a successful Tweetchat, bringing together a panel of top experts to answer technology questions from across the sector in an 'Hour of Technology Service' via Twitter.
Tweetchats are one of the most exciting aspects of social media, and Lasa took the jump into tweetchats as a way of raising its social media profile, celebrating the knowledgebase's tenth anniversary and connecting the people involved in supporting non-profit technology.
Here’s 10 quick tips we learned to help set you on your way to hosting your own tweetchats.
Things you'll need
- If you haven't already, you'll need to set up an account with Twitter (www.twitter.com). Twitter platforms are covered in the full Lasa knowledgebase article.
Be inclusive and spread the word as widely as possible
Remember that not everyone is on Twitter (or wants to be), so be as inclusive as you can. Put your tweetchat into a transcript and use every media channel you have (email, newsletter, blog, Twitter, etc) to publicise the results and learning from your tweetchat.
Think about why you want to do this and what you hope to achieve
Just because lots of other people are hosting tweetchats doesn’t mean you have to. Ask yourself some basic questions such as: who are our audience and do they use Twitter? If not, how can we build our Twitter profile and audience? Do we have the staff resource to promote and host tweetchats on a regular basis?
Build your audience
To make a tweetchat worthwhile you will need to spend some time building up an audience (or followers) on Twitter. Do this by engaging with people and starting to build a following. Look for ways to add value to a conversation or tell people about something new. There's an excellent knowledgebase article on getting started with Twitter.
Promoting your tweetchat
In many ways, preparing for an online event is no different to the tasks and time needed to deliver a successful off-line event - you still have to get the agenda and presenters together and you still have to get people to come to your online event. Use every channel you have to promote the online event. Check out Twitter lists as a way of targeting potential tweetchat attendees. Look at how KnowHow NonProfit's Twitter list is organised.
Send your tweetchat before the event
As well as promoting your tweetchat real benefit can be gained from making contact with key people, both panelists and key influencers to make sure they are are of your tweetchat. Getting them to help you create a buzz on twitter before the event can generate interest and enthusiasm before the event. Also make sure you make people aware of the hashtag you are using and get it known beforehand
Running your tweetchat
Think about these in the same way you would for any other conference, workshop or seminar. You’ll need to organise the agenda, brief guest experts and moderate the chat by posing questions to keep things moving. You’ll also need to think about your audience in finding the ideal frequency, timing and duration of your tweetchats.
Think about hashtags
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics and to categorise messages. Try and pick a # hashtag that's unique, memorable and not too long (6 or 7 characters is ideal) because using the hashtag symbol # makes it easier to find messages relevant to your topic or tweetchat. Not using the relevant hashtag makes a tweetchat difficult to follow.
Taking part in a tweetchat
Bear in mind that not everyone will have taken part in a tweetchat before. Keep your instructions simple by pointing people towards a tweetchat tool like Tweetchat and reminding them to use the relevant hashtag.
There are lots of different tools for accessing Twitter from a web browser or desktop,and people tend to have their favourites. Each Twitter platform has different strengths, so take the time to experiment and find out what works for you. Options include Twitter, Tweetchat for aggregating messages according to hashtag, CoTweet for team tweeting via a single Twitter account, Tweetdeck, and Gwibber for open source users.
Keep a transcript of the tweetchat
Twitter constantly updates in real-time with new messages and rewinding to a tweetchat you had a month ago is likely to put off all but the most determined. Creating a transcript allows you to impose some order on the discussion, group topics together, add in useful web links, keep a record of the discussion and provide a useful resource to those who couldn’t attend. Great websites to capture tweets from a chat are TwapperKeeper or SearchHash.
Make sure you thank those taking part in the tweetchat. If your tweetchat featured a guest or panel of experts, make sure you acknowledge their contribution and point your Twitter followers towards your experts
Note: This is a summary version of a fuller article about Twitterchatting on the Lasa knowledgebase.
Lasa Information Systems Team
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