Last week we talked about a few of the Twitter chats that are out there for non-profit and association professionals and their benefits. Your organization can also get some great feedback and engagement by running its own Twitter chat.
Your association can have a great impact on members by creating networking opportunities and getting the word out about the value your organization provides. Setting up a Twitter chat can be an easy and interactive way of reaching this goal. It also allows the wider community to learn a little more about your organization’s industry and the great people who make up the profession.
For other non-profits, Twitter chats are a great way to relay information about a cause, suggest ideas for volunteering, offer way to make a difference and gather ideas and opinions on creating awareness and improving services.
Twitter chats are the ultimate way to have online conversations with your members, volunteers, donors and the wider community. Here are a few tips for starting and conducting a Twitter chat for your organization in three handy stages
Stage #1- The Preparation
- Let your Twitter followers know in advance that you will be putting on a chat and tweet reminders. A few days to a week before will usually do the trick. Let them know the day, time and topics.
- Come up with a hashtag for the chat so attendees can follow along and participate. Tweet this hashtag as part of your advanced notices.
- Do your research. Prepare questions and potential answers to questions and comments. The flow of the conversation may lead elsewhere, but you should be able to moderate and guide the chat to be informative and interesting.
- Let your followers know you will be starting a chat the day of. This will explain why they might see a few more tweets than usual from your account.
Stage #2- The Chat
- Tweet out a short welcome, including an explanation of what the chat will include. This will let participants know you have started, give them a chance to join, get settled and invite others.
- Start off with a more general question. This will get the ball rolling and engage participants. Broader questions open up the floor for people to take the conversation to places that are relevant to them and to respond in various ways, including personal anecdotes, quotes, opinions, links, etc.
- Walk the participation line. Monitor the conversation, respond to direct mentions and questions and chip in every once in a while, but let others speak and share. Remember, you are only the moderator, not the keynote.
- Keep the dialogue flowing. If the conversation seems to be slowing down, ask another question, tag participants with comments, invite people in.
- Keep your eyes peeled. Monitor your hashtag and engage participants. Watch for any inappropriate behaviour and diffuse any escalating situations. It’s okay to let the conversation wonder a bit, but try to steer it back on topic at some point.
- End the chat by thanking everyone and reminding participants that you will still be available to answer questions or comments.
Stage #3- The Aftermath
- Continue to monitor your feed and chat hashtag for any additional engagement. Respond promptly and with as much information as possible.
- Offer a recap of your Twitter chat. There are many tools for this, Storify being the most popular. A blog is also a great way to summarize the chat and carry it forward.
- Decide if you would like to do the chat again. Depending on the response, you may want to make Twitter chats a weekly or monthly part of your strategy.
The most important goal to have in mind when conducting a Twitter chat is to be as helpful as you can in providing information, answers and conversation starters. Twitter chats are a great way to gather your community together online, newcomers and veterans alike. And when people think of your organization, they can remember the chats and the personal touch it adds, making life-long members out of participants.
If you have any tips, questions or experiences with Twitter chats, please share in the comments!