Since I was the featured guest at my first-ever chat, I used Tweet deck to do the following:
- Watch the direct message stream in case Shonali had a question for me or needed me to find a question lost in the quickly moving stream.
- Follow the #wgbiz hashtag so I could see and answer questions.
- Look for @replies from people who may have forgotten to use the hashtag.
I also kept my Gmail account open in case Shonali needed to contact me via email or IM.
For an hour, I intently stared at my computer screen, looking for questions, answering questions, retweeting other people’s replies, and welcoming people to the chat. At the end, I felt like I was on Cloud 9. This. Was. Fun.
Where could I find more about interesting chats? Thanks to Erica Holt and Shonali Burke, I found the Twitter Chat Schedule by Robert Swanwick. This list can be updated by anyone and lists chats on a variety of subjects. You can also find chats, or add one you run, to this Chat Schedule, which will tweet out chat reminders.
Soon after my experience with Shonali’s chat, I decided to start my own. As you may know, I am a poet with a book of poetry. Poets are my peeps and my Tweeps. I found poets online yet we did not yet have a weekly poet chat that I could find.
Hence, the #poetparty was born. I invited poets D. A. Powell, Kelli Agodon, Oliver de la Paz, Collin Kelley, Susan Rich, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil to join me. In case you don’t know, the above list of poets includes some of the best poets alive and writing in America now. In SEO, these poets would be equivalent to Rae Hoffman, Ed Dale, Lee Odden, and Matt Cutts. While most of us answered questions and chatted, D. A. Powell took tweets and turned them into a poem he shared with us later. I liked how everyone turned the event into something that worked for them.
I decided to hold this chat partly out of curiosity. In the United States, poets exist on the margins of culture. So, I wondered:
What would happen if we poets all got together to lead a poetry chat?
What would a poetry reading look like on Twitter?
What would we, people used to the paper page, do on Twitter?
We did not know, but we were ready to find out. We each tweeted lines of poetry. We invited questions and answered them. Afterward, people emailed me to say how much they enjoyed it. A few of the poets said they finally “got Twitter” after using it in this interactive way.
What I Learned
Collaborate: One of the reasons our first chat had such a wide audience was due to the involvement of these other poets. They mentioned the chat on Facebook and their Twitter feeds. Robert Lee Brewer, the editor of Writer’s Market, shared the news with a LOT of people.
Have Guests: My first guests were amazing and adventurous. I love them all for their willingness to try the chat without knowing what would happen or if it would be a success. Since Robert Lee Brewer enthusiastically promoted the chat, I invited him to be the guest the following week. This worked for him since he wanted to promote his #novpad project (writing a poem a day during November). My third guest was Reb Livingston, a poetry publisher and editor. Our fourth chat will be “open happy hour.”
Post a Transcript: Claim your chat at What the Hashtag and use that tool to create a transcript. Sharing the transcript allows people who missed the chat to read what happened, and it provides content for your blog. I posted the first few poet party Twitter transcripts on my blog. However, in the future, I will turn the transcript into a PDF and link to it. A blog post consisting solely of a chat looks rather messy. Live and learn!
Offer Questions: Shonali taught me one can get through 4-5 questions in an hour. Participants like to engage, so be sure to ask questions and invite other people besides the guest to answer them too.
Follow Up: By the time the chat ended at 10 pm, the poets continued to chat. As the host, I wanted to respect people’s time and the end time of 10 pm. I sent out thank you Tweets to participants—this would be hard to do in a huge chat— and responded to people who said they’d missed the chat. If someone missed the chat and expressed a desire to come to the next one, I tweeted them the information and let them know about the transcript.
Result: At four weeks of age, my chat is still a baby. I enjoy experimenting with this method of engagement and think it offers this niche group something they did not have before. I am meeting more poets, learning how to run a successful chat, and building community. In our most recent chat, we had roughly 70 participants.
Read more below. What do you do to make a Twitter chat successful?
- Twitter Chat Tips
- Questions to Ask When Launching a Twitter Chat
- 6 Things You Need to Do to Build a Sales Pipeline (from Grow Smart Business)
- Making the Most of a Twitter Chat