Kelly Hungerford’s ability to repurpose and repackage content inspired me to write the blog post, how to turn a one-hour Twitter Chat into one week’s worth of tweets. I was not surprised that this blog post was my most shared article in December. Several readers asked me how to prepare for a successful Twitter chat and how do these tactics fit into the overall marketing objectives or purchase journey. I reached out to Kelly again and asked her the following five + bonus questions. Her responses are insightful and AWESOME!
Q: Kelly, how long have you been doing Paper.li’s Twitter Chat? How many have you facilitated so far?
#BizHeroes is still just a baby in the world of Twitter chats. I started the chat back in February 2014. So far we’ve held 42 chats this year and, although it’s a weekly chat, we won’t hit 52 because, like real people, I take vacations! (Pam: Amen, sister!) If you can’t take time off from social media without worrying about follower counts or impressions, your brand has a bigger problem! (Pam: Kelly, I couldn’t agree with you more!)
Q: Why Twitter Chat? What are the inherent or immediate benefits? Can you quantify the success of Paper.li’s Twitter Chat?
When I began researching best practices and social networks for developing brand communities, I was evenly torn between using Twitter or G+ and Google Hangouts. Because this was a non-service oriented community, I didn’t feel obligated to use Twitter only because our largest user base was on active there or because that’s how the majority of people looking for us, find us. (Pam: you go where your users are. Very wise.) In fact, if Paper.li had not sponsored Mack Collier’s #BlogChat back in December 2012, I might have moved forward with GooglePlus as the platform.
I wrote this post summarizing my thoughts on brand chats after our sponsorship. I think we could have done something amazing on GooglePlus as a community, but in hindsight, it probably wouldn’t have been the perfect fit. (Pam: I think you made the right decision.) I created #BizHeroes with two goals in mind:
- Say ‘thank you’ to the people who support us by shining the social media spotlight on them
- Create non-product based brand awareness for Paper.li
I set the goal for impressions per chat by end of 2014 at 10 million per chat. We hit that in the first couple of months. We’ve seen the #BizHeroes community rally up to 35 million impressions in sixty minutes. During our chat with Brian Kolb on Personal Branding, we were trending alongside #AlexFromTarget and the #WebSummit. We were all so excited! (Pam: you go, girl!)
So if we take numbers as an indicator alone, yes, it’s a success. We’re using the @Paper_li account to help put the #BizHeroes community and their insights in the spotlight. The #BizHeroes community in return helps spread awareness of the service through non-product oriented messaging. It’s a win for everyone. Another indicator to me that we’re on the right track is the awesome write-ups from industry leaders such as yourself, Brian Fanzo, Ian Cleary to name a few. There is a heck of a lot of chats out there. It is truly an honor for the #BizHeroes community to be recognized as an up-and-coming chat.
Q: We all know about the purchase journey: awareness, consideration, purchase, and post-sales. How does Twitter Chat fit into the purchase journey? (e.g. Is Twitter Chat a great top-of-the-funnel communication vehicle? Or is it good for consideration? Or is it all over the journey?)
#BizHeroes was created with the top of the funnel in mind: awareness and curiosity or interest. I quickly saw that the chat was also addressing consideration (and re-consideration) so we added a 30-day free trial that we can track and we’re seeing people take us up on it. (Pam: my gut tells me that Twitter Chat is the top of the funnel tactic. A free trial is certainly a great call-to-action to usher potential users to the next stage of purchase journey.)
A Tweet Chat can be used to address any part of the funnel but the success factor is going to be the commitment of the brand to the longevity of the chat and patience. Trust needs to be gained before you can venture from the top down. If you looking at a chat as a campaign or one of many tactics to try out, it will fail and you’ll burn your social bridges, so to speak. Moving beyond Marketing, brands can benefit an entire company, not just marketing and sales. Product Managers can solicit product feedback, test ideas or ask the community to give input on product features. HR can look for potential hires. The sky’s the limit if the intent is authentic, caring and a win-win for both the brand and the community. (Pam: agree!)
Q: What is the process that you follow to prepare pre-chat, during-chat and post-chat?
Pre-chat prep takes the most amount of time. We set up a Google doc for each chat to capture
- topic questions
- introduction tweets for the topic and guest
- promotional/teaser tweets
- tweets, links, and images that we’ll share during the chat
- invitation/reminder tweets for the community
I shoot to have this in place Monday mornings so Magda, my co-moderator, can plan the scheduling of necessary tweets into her routine. During the chat, Magda runs the Twitter account and I come in around the side with my personal account. My job is to greet everyone at the virtual door, take their coats and make them feel welcome. Magda’s job is to send out questions and shine the spotlight on our guests from the @paper_li account.
We communicate via Skype during the chat to make sure everything is going smoothly. We’ll point out new members, tweets to highlight and so forth. It’s a real team effort. I also Skype (either voice or messaging) with the guest host. The chat moves really fast so I like to let them know when the next question has gone out. Plus, it’s fun and it is a social event so… why not be social! Post-chat we immediately send out a Hashtracking summary to the community, thank yous and create a Storify so we can create post-chat content like Slideshares, blog posts or a Listly.
Q: What are three pieces of advice that you would share with brands or agencies who are interested in starting or optimizing their Twitter Chat?
An hour of anyone’s time is a gift, so use that time wisely. I’m a chat newbie so I still set aside 10 hours a week for the chat. At a minimum, it needs about 10 hours for one Chat:
- 8 hours planning and preparation
- 1-hour moderation
- 1-hour follow up
I find I usually spend up to 15 hours. Hosting a chat is like hosting a party and you never know who’s going to show up. Do your best to make a good first impression every time the door opens. Also, don’t leave anything to the last minute. Test your tools before, don’t rely on only one service to monitor your chat, have a few sorted out and tested, have a hard wire on hand in the case your wi-fi chokes and sync with your co-moderator and guest beforehand.
2. Ask the community what they want
No doubt you have goals to reach, but reaching them may involve more collaboration that you realize. Ask your community what type of topics interest them and what type of guests they would like to hear from. Be ready to accept harsh feedback as well. If someone tells you your topics or guests are lame, inquire why and take it as a compliment. People usually give negative feedback because they truly want things to change, not because they have nothing better to do.
3. Hire a professional:
If you aren’t an experienced community builder or Tweet Chat moderator, bring someone on board to guide you. My long-term goal was to build a community as strong and thriving as the #BlogChat community, but short-term I had internal KPIs to meet. I went straight to the source and asked Mack Collier if he would come on board as an advisor. Much of this chat’s success is related directly to Mack’s experience in designing marketing initiatives and ambassador programs that build brand loyalty. With or without outside help, you’re bound to make mistakes along the way. It’s worth investing in expertise though so you can avoid the basic ones and leave room for the truly unexpected.
Bonus question: What is the most chaotic (or most memorable) Twitter Chat that you facilitated and why?
It’s going to sound cheesy, but every chat has taught me a lesson to make the chat in general better. Both Magda and I incorporate lessons learned back into the chat to improve the quality and satisfaction of participants and guests. There are a few moments that truly stand out though, like our chat with Cendrine Marrouat and the feedback she gave me afterward. She said to me “thanks for having me as a guest, but I don’t felt anyone knew I was the guest. You didn’t make it clear”.
Her words stopped me in my tracks and I felt really bad. I reviewed our introduction and she was right. In fact, there was no formal introduction. Now each guest gets a well-deserved and proper intro, as they should.
(Pam: Thanks for your great intro. for my Twitter Chat and thanks for Cendrine’s feedback.)
About Kelly Hungerford: Kelly’s a customer-centric marketer with over 25 years of experience helping special project teams and startups bootstrap operations. She’s a specialist in connecting the dots between content, communications and customer service to grow thriving communities that turn foes into friends and users into loyal, loving brand fans. Follow her @KDHungerford.