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How to run a Twitter chat

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 ( 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.


      Twitter platforms

      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 TwitterTweetchat 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

      Read the transcript of knowledgebase is 10 at the knowledgebase Forums.

      Thank you

      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

      Thanks for reading and follow us on Twitter @LasaICT

      Further information


      Page last edited Mar 03, 2016 History

      Comments (1)

      Tom Phillips
      Tom Phillips on May 17, 2012 05:35 PM

      This is a good, comprehensive piece of advice. I am one of the regular hosts of #lgovsm, and have weekly experience of the joys and perils of Twitter chats.

      Glad to see a mention of using "TweetChat" ( . I think this is an indispensable tool, particularly for anyone running as chat. Should be strongly recommended to participants. It has the advantage of ensuring that every tweet has the right hashtag. One of the worst problems is participants forgetting to use the hashtag, with the effect that parts of discussions fall off the timeline, and things can go haywire.

      Worth perhaps stressing that the time lag between posting and a tweet appearing in the timeline can be up to 15 seconds, and a lot of new tweets can arrive in that time. This can sometimes make for the "chat" being a bit disjointed.

      Moreover, it often means there are several threads running parallel in the one chat. This is what makes running a Twitter chat a bit like spinning numerous plates. Expect to have several threads running at once, but try to avoid too many.

      Particularly, try to avoid the distractions that can be caused by a small group of contributors having an exchange on issues not directly under discussion at the time. Some simple and polite "chairmanship" of the discussion can usually get them to pursue this stuff without the hashtag.

      If your chat is advertised for a specific time-slot, do keep to it. Aim to close things down at the end, and give key contributors/guests etc a word of thanks. You won't ever stop people using the hashtag to continue to debate some issues, so don't get shirty if they do, but it always helps to make it clear when the end of allotted time has arrived.

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