Lately, I’ve been doing more training about running a Twitter chat and having more conversations about my experiences with creating and facilitating #NPMC chat. These conversations always include a discussion of tools, so here are some of the the tools and resources that have been so important to me as a chat creator and facilitator.
About building community through Twitter chats
First, the big picture; it was my experience with #NPCons chat (for consultants to community-benefit organizations) that inspired me to create a chat for nonprofit marketers and communicators. And #NPCons is presented by the amazing people at Creating the Future. If you’re looking to create a chat that supports community building, you’ll appreciate this post: Community engagement planning: starting with the end in mind.
Chat monitoring tools
Tweetchat and Twubs are both tools that allow you to follow only tweets that include a specific hashtag. Essentially they both serve as tweet filters. Both of these tools also automatically add the hashtag that you’re following, ensuring your tweets stay part of the conversation. Unfortunately, I’ve found both services a bit unpredictable, so before every chat I open them both up and pick the one that is working better that day!
Hootsuite serves as a backup/contingency tool for keeping an eye on the hashtag. It’s what I use every day for my social media management and I’ve set up a search for #NPMC that is always running. I also find having Hootsuite open is useful for keeping an eye out for chat participants who are @ mentioning me or replying to me and forgetting to use the hashtag. It happens often!
Storify is useful for archiving chats. You can simply create a search for your chat’s hashtag on Twitter and Storify will bring in everything! It’s easy to sort the tweets and weed out any strays that weren’t actually part of the chat. You can link back to or embed your Storify archive easily on your blog. I choose to dig a little deeper into their options, creating an html file, which I can store offline in my own archive and over which I have more control when it comes to formatting on my archive pages.
NPMC chat home base
If I’ve been talking to you about running a Twitter chat, I’ve probably been talking about #NPMC chat as a case study. Have a look at the #NPMC chat home base if you’d like to see examples of things like:
- Our orientation/about page
- Conversation-starting blog posts
- Archives of past chats, to see the facilitation model I’ve learned from Creating the Future in action
If you’re at the very earliest stages of chat planning, you’re going to need to come up with a hashtag. Short and sweet is ideal, and meaningful is even better. Once you’ve brainstormed some ideas, there are a number of tools such as Tagboard and Hashtagify you can use to research your hashtags and find out if they are already in use. Once again, these tools are not perfect, but they provide a starting point. Don’t forget to simply search for your hashtag on Twitter and in other social networks, especially if you want room to grow your hashtag and use it elsewhere!
Chats for nonprofits
The best way to get familiar with chats before running one is to participate! Kerri Karvetski compiled a monster list of chats that would be relevant to nonprofit marketers on the Nonprofit Marketing Guide blog: Big List of Twitter Chats for Nonprofits (Chat Tools, Too!). While you’re reading the post, you’ll want to check out the embedded Google Calendar created by Lauren Girardin, featuring all of the listed chats scheduled out!
Chat planning checklist
Finally, if you’ve been in one of my recent workshops, I’ve shared and mentioned my Twitter chat planning checklist. This checklist will help you to put individual chats on the calendar, promote them and prepare to facilitate like a boss!
Update: slides from my presentation
March 9, 2015: I’ve added the slides from my March 5 presentation on this topic at the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference. Here they are!
Do you host or facilitate a Twitter chat? What resources and tools would you add?