How To Get Organized In A Tweet Chat

About a month and a half ago, @SteamFeedcom was lucky enough to be featured as a guest on #MediaChat. We knew this could give some great exposure to our site, so when DJ and I were approached by Jason Thompson (@nosaj_jason) and Aaron Kilby (@Kilby76) to do the chat, we didn’t hesitate to jump to the opportunity! Having never been to a Tweet chat, I had to do a bit of research to get ready for it – especially since I was participating as the featured guest in the first Tweet chat I was attending.

DJ knew a lot more than me about Tweet chats, but was away that night, and had to participate in limited capacity – so he wasn’t able to take over the SteamFeed console at that time. It just happened I was gone to an extended job interview at InNetwork Inc, in Toronto, so I was freakin’ busy that week!

On one of the evenings I was there, I ended up going to supper with one of my university friends, David Alexander (@davidaalexander), Digital Marketing Coordinator at Maple Leaf Foods. I mentioned over supper I was a guest on #MediaChat that evening, and told him I had never been in a twitter chat before. He started telling me a story about how Maple Leaf hosted a twitter chat, how much work was involved, and how fast-paced it was. I started freaking out!!! Good thing he wasn’t busy that evening, and helped me out. Here’s what I learned from the experience, in case you’re ever a guest on a Twitter chat:

Understand the Format

The format of #MediaChat seems pretty simple – the host asks a question, and the guest answers. Over the span of an hour, the host asks 8-10 questions, and then opens up the conversation for anyone that has questions at the end. There’s around a 5-6 minute interval between questions. The format of the Q&A is the following:

Host: Q1 The host asks a question to the guest? #hashtag

Guest: A1 The guest answers the host’s question. #hashtag

This seems fairly simple right? Wrong! You constantly have to remember to use the #hashtag in all of your tweets, you have to look out for the questions, you have to answer the questions promptly, all the while engaging with people that have comments about your answer! It can be overwhelming! Thank god there are tools that can help you out!

Use a Few Tweet Chat Tools

First thing I did was open up Twitter itself, and tracked the #hashtag on Twitter. That helped me keep track of how many tweets were being sent out using the #MediaChat hashtag. The second thing I did was setup a #MediaChat stream in Hootsuite, so I could easily track the conversation, and organize mentions at the same time.

Hootsuite Tweet ChatThe last tool, which was the most important one, was a suggestion by David – TweetGrid. TweetGrid lets you organize the Tweet chat in three columns: 1. #hashtag mention, 2. host/guest tweets, and 3. your Twitter handle to track mentions and sent tweets. The most important column is the second one, because it lets you easily follow the Q&A, so you know when a question is asked, and you remember which one you just answered.

TweetGrid also automatically adds the hashtag to all of your tweets, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to add it.

TweetGrid Tweet Chat

Don’t do it Alone

This one is easy – I couldn’t have done it by myself. I want to thank David again for his help during the chat – he was my second set of eyes. The Tweet chat ended up getting close to 200 participants at different points in the hour – it’s virtually impossible to reply to everyone’s comments and keep an eye out for the host’s questions. While I was on Hootsuite answering comments, and replying to mentions, David was keeping an eye out for questions. When the next question would pop up, he would let me know so I could answer promptly, and keep the pace of the chat going.

Get Organized

What I loved about #MediaChat was that Aaron sent me the questions he was going to ask me beforehand, so I could pre-write my answers. When he asked me a question, I was ready to go simply by copy/pasting my pre-typed answer. This made sure I could answer quickly, and didn’t have to waste time typing anything. My focus was on engaging with the participants.

One last thing I would add – leave room in your answer for re-tweets (so roughly 15-17 characters). TweetGrid will show you how many characters you have left in your tweet, and takes into account your #hashtag as well.


Again, thanks David for helping out with the chat, couldn’t have done it without you. Everyone, make sure to join us in our own SteamFeed chat tonight! – #SMRebelsHelp at 9PM EST. Our host this week will be Robert M. Caruso (@fondalo), with guest Rock Scar Love (@rockscarlove).

Have you ever participated in a Tweet chat? What was your experience like? Please leave a comment below!

Daniel Hebert
Daniel Hebert is an award-winning graduate of Mount Allison University. While he studied marketing, his favourite subject was learned outside the classroom: Social Media Strategy. Daniel has been a social media manager in the B2B sector, and now has his own blog. Daniel’s social media presence has gotten him a lot of attention in his local community, which has lead to guest speaking events. It also led to others writing pieces about his social media approach, including articles from Ragan Communications, Media Bistro, and Chris Dessi, CEO of Silverback Social. Daniel has an entrepreneurial, self-motivated attitude, which has led him to be a finalist in one of Canada’s top business competition for students. If he wasn’t a marketer, he would take his love for food and become a chef. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Daniel Hebert

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  1. Mallie Hart says:

    I'll be a few minutes late for the start of the tweetchat tonight – as we have to wrap up ours first, but will be there! I enjoy tweetchats if they are well managed and focus on a topic of interest. They can easily get out of hand if not well managed, so it's great to see someone talk about getting help to ensure it runs well!

    • Daniel Hebert says:

      At some points, I thought #MediaChat was getting a bit hectic. People just tend to jump in and answer all the questions as well, making it difficult to follow the conversation between the host and the guest, haha.

      Looking forward to seeing you at the chat tonight! :)

  2. Kittie Walker says:

    I haven't come across TweetGrid before, that looks like a nifty tool. I shall be testing it out when I'm at the tweetchat tonight. Looking forward to giving it a whirl :)

    • Daniel Hebert says:

      I had never heard of it, and probably wouldn't have if it wasn't for David. I had no idea how much organization needed to go in this, and how fast paced it was – now I do! :P

      TweetGrid really helped me follow the conversation between @steamfeedcom and @kilby76, to make sure I answered all of the questions, and on time.

      Looking forward to seeing you later tonight!

  3. @PerfectJulia doesn't call me the twitter chat studmuffin for nothing…LOL Love twitter chats, totally addicted. think the best tool following along and weeding out the noise is Tweetchat, just plug in the hashtag once and your off. Give it a shot, you will see the value right away.
    Now…whats this about @fondalo doing a twitter chat??? I don't believe that for a second. Unfortunately I am on vaca and probably won't be available, but….if I am…..

    • Anne Reuss says:

      I'm with Gerry. I'm an addict too, have been for almost one year! I can't stress tweetchat enough too, super simple and helpful. See ya'll later! And I'm just as surprised Robert is doing a chat ;-)

  4. Some great tips! I've not tried TweetGrid, but it looks like a useful tool.

    So very cool that we trended and reached #1 on our first #SMRebelsHelp chat yesterday evening!! :)

    • Daniel Hebert says:

      I like TweetGrid better than TweetChat, for the simple reason that it separates the flow of the chat in three different columns, making it easier to manage the flow of the chat. I find TweetChat goes too fast if there's a lot of participants.

      #SMRebelsHelp was a great success! Thanks for coming out Keri! :)

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