Tips for hosting Edu Twitter chats
Twitter chats can be a powerful tool for creating engagement and growing your PLN (Personal Learning Network). These tips will help you host your very own twitter chat:
- Two heads are better than one – Enlisting a co-host or assistant can help share the load particularly in very popular/fast paced chats. They can also help retweet questions and responses as well as tweet out reminders such as to remind followers to use the designated hashtag at the end of every tweet.
- Use more than one device – When I’ve hosted chats in the past, I have found it useful to have several devices at hand e.g. laptop, tablet, phone etc. One benefit of this is being able to glance at your notifications and timeline so as not to miss out on important responses. The other benefit is to always have a back-up in case your primary device decides to hang up on you or you lose your primary connection.
- Use third party tools – Tools such as TweetDeck and HootSuite are perfect for popular chat sessions. TweetDeck allows you to create columns for your favourite hashtags, notifications and direct messages. Top tip: Add a new column for your designated hashtag and drag it next to your notifications column. This will allow you to keep track of all your responses as well as keep track of any responses where the user has forgotten to include the designated hashtag at the end of their tweet.
Keep track of your twitter traffic with tools such as tweetdeck.
Before the chat:
- Get the word out – Once you’ve organised your chat and settled on the questions, the next step is to publicise it. There are several ways you can promote your chat session; blogging about your chat session prior to the event, releasing the questions early through tweets, promoting via Facebook are all ways you can publicise your chat session. Another great way to promote your chat session is to invite key followers to co-host or take part in your chat. Note: Make sure to include designated hashtag when inviting followers / publicising your chat session.
- Welcome your audience – Start your with an introductory welcome and invite your participants to introduce themselves. You could start with an ice breaker question such as “What is your name and where are you from” etc.
- Schedule your tweets – During popular/fast paced chats it can be easy to get overwhelmed and forget to post the next question or not have time to respond to tweets because you’re too busy posting questions. Scheduling questions in advance using tools such as TweetDeck can help take off some of the pressure as well as give you more time to interact and respond to participants.
- Label your questions – Most chat sessions use the Q1, A1, Q2, A2, (question / answer) format. Not only will this help with the flow of the chat session, it will also make it easier to storify/summarise later (See ‘After the chat’).
- A picture speaks a thousand words (or at least more than 140 characters) – Images will make your tweets stand out from the crowd, they can also help you get around the 140 character limit.
- Give time for responses – Provide at least 10 minutes for participants to answer each question (retweet the best / most thought provoking answers). For a 1 hour chat session, I recommend 5 or 6 questions (one released every 10 minutes or so).
- Formally close the session – Finish the chat by thanking participants and announcing upcoming chats (including chat day/time and topic).
After the chat:
- Storify your chat – Once your chat session is over, it is not necessarily the end. A great way to encourage a new audience to take part in future chats is to storifyyour chat session and share with all those who took part in the chat.
- Summarise your chat – Use your personal blog to summarise the key results of the chat session. Remember to use the designated hashtag in the title of your blog post / resource etc.