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5 Strategies for Building & Sustaining A Twitter Chat

I have been following and participating in #blogchat for almost two years, would you mind briefing explaining the premise of #blogchat?

The idea behind #Blogchat is that once a week, bloggers can come together and talk blogging, share tips and ideas with people that love blogging as much as they do. It really helps to bounce ideas and questions off other people that are going through the same things you are, and who have the same point of view.

The thing that I love about #blogchat is the sense of community. People take time to read and respond to tweets. What made you gravitate to a Twitter Chat?

I saw that Twitter was really taking off in popularity around 2009 and the tool was a great way to facilitate real-time interactions and discussions, so it seemed like a better vehicle than another site like Facebook or Google Plus. Some other tools might be better for reviewing a chat after it's over, but I still think Twitter is the best for real-time discussions.

Blogging has evolved over the years. Bloggers are now gravitating towards adding a voice to their message as evidenced by the increase in podcasts and video blogs. Why does the written word continue to hold value?

If nothing else, blog posts are still great for reference. It's just easier to share key ideas when they are in written form, it's easier for me to share a post and point a friend toward a quote in the 3rd paragraph versus telling them to listen to a podcast, especially the point made starting at the 2 minute mark. Plus, we will always love to read good content, that's never going to change.

Do you have any predictions on the future of blogging?

I think you'll continue to see video, pictures and audio more interwoven into blog posts because it's all about using additional forms of media to make your larger point more compelling and interesting.

Would you mind sharing 5 tips for someone looking to start a Twitter Chat?

1 - Figure out what your focus is. What do you want to talk about, who are you trying to reach, and why do you want to connect with them.

2 - What's in it for the participant? You have to know what you want from the chat, but you also need to know what everyone is going to get if they participate. Here's what you get, here's what I get. Answer that and your chances of having a successful Twitter chat go up dramatically.

3 - Pick a day and time and stick with it. Think about who you want to connect with and when they will be available to join you. Now you may have to change days and times a bit at the start, but as quickly as possible you need to get the day and time set. Once people know that your chat is every Wednesday at 5pm, then they can promote it.

4 - Make sure the participants know that it is THEIR chat as well. Give them ownership, empower them to help you pick topics, let them showcase themselves, and especially go above and beyond for the people that show up every week. When people see that you are empowering them to have more of a say in the chat, that encourages them to view it as 'their' chat, and they'll go to bat for you and the chat.

5 - Think about how the chat will be moderated and how big you want it to be. With #Blogchat I purposely lean toward 101-level topics because I want to increase participation. I've learned that most people are smarter than they give themselves credit for, but in order to encourage most people to jump into a chat, the topic needs to be more 101 level so they feel more comfortable sharing their opinions.

As for moderation, most chats are set up so there's several questions posed to the group throughout the chat. I prefer to have fewer questions with #Blogchat, but you need to decide which way will work best for your chat and which way your participants want to go.


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