My Crazy Prediction?

In September 2008 I made a prediction, that email as we know it today will no longer exist in 10 years time.

Read The Death Of Email by 2018

Will I be proved to be a:
or Fool?

Time Remaining:

Twitter

Featured Author on Business 2 Community


Disclaimer: The views expressed on stopthinksocial are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle.
Strategic advice and experience on making the most of  being social in the workplace

Entries in Hootsuite (2)

Monday
Apr022012

#SWChat 50 Million impressions - 12 Top Tips To Creating a Successful Twitter Chat

The Social Workplace Twitter Chat (#SWChat) has reached the milestone of 50,000,000 (yes, 50 million !!!) impressions in only 20 weeks since it's birth.

I started #SWChat back in November 2011 after attending a number of other Twitter Chats, particularly #LeadershipChat hosted by Lisa Petrilli and Steve Woodruff. Both Lisa and Steve inspired me to do something that I was passionate about just as they had, and creating The Social Workplace (i.e. creating the next generation workplace for businesses where communication and collaboration become truly social) is my passion.

With my subject matter now defined, I set some clear goals of what I wanted to achieve:

  • to encourage thought provoking discussions
  • to be informative & educational
  • to allow passionate people to engage and build new social relationships

The first #SWChat I hosted was titled The Barriers Of The Social Workplace and I can honestly say that the 30 mins before the event started was the most nervous I have ever been in my life. The thought of no-one turning up and just talking to myself was very very scary. But a few people did, and it was an engaging discussion. An encouraging start.

Since then each week #SWChat it has grown from strength to strength where now, from the beginning of February 2011, we achieve an average of 114 people per event providing 1000+ tweets with over 3.5 million impressions.

This has exceeded even my expectations.

Some BIG Thank You's

Creating a Twitter Chat from scratch is definitely not easy. An incredible amount of time and effort goes into planning each chat every week to try to provide interesting and engaging topics, supported by thought provoking questions. You also need to have a good marketing strategy to attract the right audience.

But most of all you need the right people behind you providing direction and support and I am so grateful to have met and worked with some of the most amazing people on #SWChat (...apologies if this sounds like a BAFTA acceptance speech):

  • Lisa Petrilli (@lisapetrilli) and Steve Woodruff (@swoodruff) for their continual support and inspiration
  • Christy Confetti Higgins (@confetti) and Brandie McCallum (@lttlewys) who have been amazing co-hosts and so supportive week after week
  • The #SWChat advisors whom have been great sounding boards when I needed it - Brandie McCallum (@lttlewys); Steve Cassady (@SteveCassady); David A Lee (@DavidALee); Warren Wooden (@PLRNetMarketing); and Meghan M Biro (@MeghanMBiro)
  • #TChat and #bizforum for the marketing partnership we seemed to have stumbled into but very glad we did
  • Liz Christopher (@LizCpher) for help with the topics and questions
  • and finally a big thank you to all the 467 participants who have made the discussions to-date so interesting and engaging

20 weeks is not very long to be thinking if sharing next practices, but I have picked up some good advice and made some mistakes, which i hope others can benefit from who are thinking of starting their own Twitter Chat.

12 Top Tips to Creating a Successful Twitter Chat

1. Select A Subject Matter You Are Passionate About

If you are going to be hosting a Twitter Chat every week, you'd better choose a subject matter that really interests you and are knowledgeable about. Coming up with great topics and questions week after week is a challenge in itself without the burden of disliking the subject.

Your audience will begin to drop off very quickly and never to return, if they sense you are not interested in the subject matter.

2. Participate In Other Twitter Chats

There is no substitution for experience. Therefore take part in a number of different Twitter Chats to get a flavour of what's involved and how the participants respond. Utilise that knowledge and experience to develop your own style.

Don't be afraid to try something different to see how your own audience responds.

3. Build A Knowledge Base

Having a knowledge base or reference point, is essential for informing people what your Twitter Chat is all about, which will help generate a buzz (see example).

It's also important to have a group of people you can turn to as a sounding board to help provide direction.

4. Send In The Co-hosts

This is one of the first (and best) pieces of advice i was ever given.

Having co-hosts allows you to share the responsibilities of hosting thereby relieving some of the pressure off your own shoulders. They can also be great support aids if you run into technical difficulties and are unable to host.

5. Advance Planning

"He who fails to plan, is planning to fail...." - never a truer word spoken when it comes to Twitter Chats.

Some specific areas you need to plan for:

  • Define your topics and questions as early as possible and avoid last minute panics
  • Prepare your introductory tweets in advance
  • Have between 6-8 questions readily available
  • Make all your questions available from in the cloud so your co-host(s) can take over if you run into difficulties (I use www.springpad.com
  • Schedule tweets throughout the week to generate awareness and interest (I use Hootsuite)

6. Define Your Marketing Strategy

Sending out a tweet or two is not going to generate that much buzz about your event. Instead, engage in conversation with the people in your stream and ask them to help you raise awareness.

Joint marketing strategies with other related Twitter Chats can be mutually beneficial.

7. Stay On Topic & Keep It Interesting

If your Twitter Chat is about cars, then don't choose a topic about boats. Choosing topics each week that are not related to your subject matter is going to confuse and lose your audience.

The topics also need to be interesting and the questions thought-provoking, to challenge people's perspectives and encourage discussion.

8. Always Welcome Newcomers

I have in the past attended a few Twitter Chats where I said "Hi" and introduced myself and nobody responded. I shortly left never to return.

For this reason I make it a point of saying hi to newcomers and encourage others participating to do the same.

9. React To The Conversation

If the discussion seems to be drying up on a question, throw another one out to keep the conversation flowing. However, if your audience is heavily engaged in a discussion then let it play out before you change the conversation with a new topic. 

Having lots of questions readily available is smart planning but remember you don't need to use them all.

10. Show Respect

If someone tweets something interesting, profound or useful, don't be afraid to retweet it and prefix it with a short comment or a "+10". It's a sign of acknowledgement and respect by the host.

11. Provide Transcripts

Not everyone will be able to make your Twitter Chat every week, and those that can't really do appreciate having a transcript available to read afterwards at a more convenient time.

12. Analyze & Report

Understanding who attends your Twitter Chats each week and what topics appear to be the most popular, will help you plan for future topics.

I use www.hashtracking.com who not only have an incredible tool for analyzing and providing a complete transcript, but also provide fantastic support. Highly recommend them.

Thursday
Feb162012

Social Media for Small Businesses - Getting Started

I was recently asked for some advice on how to get started with social media to engage with customers for a small business. I thought I would share that advice with you...

Build a Knowledge Base

It's important you have a point of entry for your customers and with the size of it's user base Facebook is a social platform you cannot ignore. If just starting out, I would use this as your knowledge base where all other forms of social media point to.

Create a buzz about your business

There is no greater tool to create a buzz than Twitter but you need to use it smartly.

Here is what I advise:

  • Start with the basic Twitter web interface to build up that trust and following
  • Identify a hashtag associated with your business that you can use in all your tweets
  • Once you are comfortable with the Twitter concept then I would start to look at third party tools to help organise information, schedule tweets, search on key topics, and engage in conversations. I would recommend Hootsuite as your user interface and something like a Tweepi to help build up a following fast
  • Once you are using a third-party tool like HootSuite, use this to integrate your key messages across all social platforms (there are many many other tools that claim that they can integrate your messages across all social platforms but many hinder rather than help. My advice is keep it simple initially)

Some general social media hints and tips:

  • Use the same avatar across all social platforms
  • Regular tweets are better than a lot of tweets over a short period
  • The general rule of thumb is that if someone follows you on Twitter they will follow back so build up your following by following others. If this was a personal account then I would dissuade you from this approach but as it is a business account you are looking at then I would encourage it
  • Engage in conversation with other people - don't just post / tweet out your own content
  • To build up a following will take time – be patient
  • If people ReTweet your message it is good to thank them (I tend to wait til the end of the week to do this and thank 5 / 6 people in one go). They are likely to retweet it again in the future if you do

Checkout some of my other posts on using Twitter effectively:

 How NOT to Get Twitter Followers
 How NOT to Get Twitter Followers (The Sequel)
 Twitter: Learn to Listen and Stand out from the Crowd

Other Social Platforms to Consider

Once you are more established with the above then there are other social platforms that you should consider:

  1. YouTube – If you have some videos, create a YouTube account and upload them there. You can also use your Facebook and Twitter platforms to raise awareness
  2. SlideShare – This is also a very powerful medium for sharing messages. If you have powerpoints that you would like to share, then SlideShare is a must. Slideshare also has its own social network as well as integrating with Facebook (i.e. people can Like your slideshares)
  3. LinkedIn – This is much more than just a job resource tool now. With 100,000,000 professional people it is now a valuable and resourceful knowledge sharing community. Join communities that relate to your business and start engaging in conversations and building up trust. Once you have done that you can start “advertising” in these communities. It's useful to try and build up a good relationship with the Community Manager as it is the Community Manager that will kick you out if you just "advertise" your own products

There are literally hundreds of different social tools / platforms out there but don't panic!  Start off small, build up that following and most importantly, engage in conversation with people. Afterall, it is people you do business with not tools.