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.