The rise of Twitter has resulted in a new campaign awareness strategy and online event known as a tweet chat. Organized around the use of a hashtag, such as#HealthTalk or #PovertyChat, nonprofits worldwide are adding tweet chats to their editorial calendars. Scheduled to occur at a specific time for usually an hour or less, nonprofits use Twitter to have live conversations on topics relevant to their mission and programs. When done well, nonprofits can gain exposure on Twitter, solidify their brand as an expert resource, and increase awareness about the issues they advocate.
Some large nonprofits host tweet chats monthly, while others do so only during the launch of specific campaigns or case studies. Unlike normal tweeting when tweeting or retweeting every two hours is optimal, during tweet chats nonprofits can tweet and retweet as often as they wish—provided that the tweets and retweets are well-formatted, useful, and, of course, relevant to the tweet chat. To ensure a successful tweet chat, nonprofits should:
- Create a hashtag specifically themed to the topic of the tweet chat.
- Schedule the tweet chat at least one month in advance and create a page on their website or blog that details the date, time, and topic and highlights their nonprofit’s Twitter username, the tweet chat hashtag, and special guests that will participate in the tweet chat (include their Twitter usernames and avatars).
- In the weeks leading up to the tweet chat, promote the tweet chat on all communication channels.
- On the days leading up to the tweet chat, promote the event at least once daily on Twitter. In the hours immediately before the start of your tweet chat, post hourly reminders. This will help increase your attendance rate and warn those who do not want to attend that their home feed will likely be inundated with tweets from your nonprofit during the tweet chat thus lessening the likelihood that they will unfollow you for tweeting too often.
- Prewrite at least 10 tweets that you can post during lulls in order to increase engagemen, such as powerful stats, inspirational quotes, and thought-provoking questions.
- Encourage attendees to share resources relevant to the tweet chat and to upload photos and infographics during the tweet chat for a more visual experience.
- Poll your attendees during tweet chats using TwtPoll (twtpoll.com).
- Write a follow-up article or blog post that highlights the 10 most popular tweets from the tweet chat, and list at least three actions that attendees of the tweet chat can take, such as signing up for an e-newsletter, signing an online petition, or making a donation. If you have another tweet chat scheduled, list the details and then promote the follow-up article across all your social networks.