twitter

Tips for Hosting a Tweet Chat

Written by Katie Carter, Associate for Research, Policy, and Information; Presbyterian Church (USA)

Want to share information and answer questions about a new program your agency is offering? Want to generate ideas for getting local entities interested in your organization? Want to provide a fun venue for connecting with your current followers and gain new ones? A tweet chat is a great, low-cost way to do this. All you need is a little prep work, a Twitter account and an hour in your day to make it happen.

A tweet chat is like a virtual meet-up connected by a common hashtag that happens during a specified time. For example, a group used  to convene on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. CST to discuss small business issues and network on Twitter. They used the hashtag #SmallBizChat.

If you decide to host a tweet chat, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t forget to include a hashtag. This is the way people will find your tweet chat. It is important you create a unique hashtag that is relevant to what you want to discuss. It should be simple, short, unique, and easy to remember.
  • Know why you want to start a tweet chat and have a plan. There are as many different reasons for hosting a tweet chat as there are organizations and people hosting them. Think about your target audience – local agencies? Donors? Kids on social media? Policymakers? Then cater to that audience.
  • Become familiar with tweet chats. Reading this is a good place to start. You might join in a tweet chat, or observe ones taking place. Get comfortable retweeting and using @mentions and @replies before hosting a chat.
  • Promote, promote, promote. No one will participate in your tweet chat if they don’t know it’s happening. Make sure you promote it on Twitter and other social media platforms at least a week in advance so people can plan ahead and participate. If you have a listserve, you might share the information that way. This also requires nailing down a time that will work for your target audience. Want to target school-age kids? You might plan a chat in the summer or after school hours. Targeting working parents? Think about what hours they will be available.
  • Actively manage the chat. It’s a good idea to do some planning ahead by preparing tweets in advance. Maybe you want to do a live question and answer session, in which case create a list of questions first that take into account the 140 character limit on Twitter and include the hashtag you are using. Be flexible in case you run out of time to ask or answer all of your questions. And respond to things other people ask.
  • Measure your impact and tell your story. So you’ve hosted your first tweet chat, but what did you accomplish? It’s a good idea to go back and see how many followers you gained during the chat and how many people participated by either retweeting or posting new content. Also, using websites like Storify is an easy, free way to share a summary of your tweet chat, or turn it into a story to share with donors, board members, staff and your social media networks.

Additional Resources:

Best Practices Guide: http://www.hashtags.org/business/management/best-practices-guide-for-tweet-chats/

Best Practices: http://www.slideshare.net/WCGWorld/twitter-chat-best-practices

How Not to Host a Twitter Chat: http://socialmediatoday.com/laurenbubble/1954471/how-not-host-twitter-chat

5 Common Sense Tips: http://blog.wcgworld.com/2012/01/five-tips-for-a-successful-twitter-chat

The Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Tweet Chat: http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevecooper/2013/09/30/the-ultimate-guide-to-hosting-a-tweet-chat/

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Using Twitter to Promote Your Organization

Why is Twitter important for your organization?

Twitter is a great way to promote your organization and connect to a network of people doing similar work. It is designed with simplicity in mind – where short and sweet messages come across better than complex communication.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social media platform (like Facebook and LinkedIn) where users have 140 characters of text to share news and thoughts in real time. The 140-character limit includes all spaces, punctuation, and letters – so it goes fast.  One way to save space is to use URL shorteners when you post links. These sites (like bit.ly and tinurl) shorten links for you, turning a really long link into a shortened version, saving precious characters.

Twitter is also public. Unless you protect your tweets, anyone can see your posts. You cannot hide them and restrict viewing.

What’s with the jargon?

Twitter has its own language, so much so that Twitter provides a glossary of terms available here:

https://support.twitter.com/articles/166337-the-twitter-glossary#. Some of the most important terms are Hashtags (#), @replies, @mentions, and retweets.

Using the “@” symbol allows you to connect with other users on Twitter. If you want someone to see your tweet, you might include their username with the “@” symbol in front of it somewhere in the message. For example, if you have a question or want to highlight something and make sure the National Safe Place Network sees it, you could tweet: Heard a great speaker today. @NSPNtweets, you should consider that speaker for a webinar. This is considered a mention.

If you tweet begins “@NSPNtweets”  you are responding only to that person and no one else will see that tweet. This is considered a reply.

Hashtags define key words and phrases that allow you to create and connect a community. If you want information on board development, you could try searching for #BoardDevelopment and see what others are saying. If you are hosting an event, like a conference or meeting, you might consider creating a new Hashtag so conference and meeting attendees can connect on Twitter.

Retweeting is when you take a tweet from someone you follow, and send it out to your followers. You can do this by clicking the “retweet” button on Twitter, or by copying and pasting the tweet into your own tweet. When doing this, it’s a good idea to mention the original entity tweeting.

How do I gain followers?

To be effective on Twitter, you need followers. You gain followers by posting regularly, but not too much. Posting once a day is a good goal at first. You can include interesting things in your tweets, like photographs or links to other content. Follow people relevant to your cause and mission. They might just follow you in return. More tips are available here: http://www.hashtags.org/platforms/twitter/how-to-get-followers-on-twitter/

Twitter provides additional tips and information available here: https://business.twitter.com/twitter-101

Hashtag.org also has great resources: http://www.hashtags.org/quick-start

Want to learn  how to utilize Twitter for professional growth? Log in now or sign up for the Professional Development Package today!