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!