So you want to be a Twitter Chat moderator?
Here are some tips and best practices!
1. The toughest thing is to filter the conversation — so the people involved ONLY see relevant tweets. The best way to make that happen? HASHTAGS. So, come up with a short, easy-to-remember hashtag. #fitblog, #ageop, #journchat and #realfood are good examples of weekly chats that use the same hashtag.
**Note: Encourage people to use that hashtag to share relevant news, ask questions, post links, etc. during the week.
2. Once you’ve decided on the hashtag, start spreading the news. Depending on your chat, you may even want to set up a dedicated Twitter account, only meant to moderate the topic. @AgeOpportunity is only used to moderate the #AgeOp chat and curate links and news through the week (the chat is now on hiatus but had a great 12-month run); on the other hand, I organize #Fitblog from the @FitBlogChats account but also promote it heavily thrugh my personal @Kwidrick account. Either way, spend some time every day letting people know about the day/time for the chat and tweeting information about ways to take part.
3. Try and find people on Twitter that might be interested in the chat and invite them to check it out. Don’t be spammy — try and @ them and introduce yourself, or if you’re already connected, send a DM. Rally support and excitement through the week!
4. On the day/night of the chat, spend some extra time reminding people about the chat. I *strongly* recommend using Tweetchat.com to take part in chats*. Tweetchat lets you sign in through Twitter, then select the room (or hashtag) you want to join. Once you’re in, you’ll only see tweets that include that hashtag, and you can control the speed, pause tweets or mark specific users as “featured,” so their tweets appear in a different color. Tweetchat also automatically adds the hashtag for you at the end of each tweet!
*After using Tweetchat for several weeks with #Fitblog, we sort of ourgrew the tool. We now have an incredible custom website (FitBlogChats.com), designed by Revive My Blog and powered in large part by the team from Hashtag Social Media. It’s pretty freaking special, and includes a dedicated moderator sidebar, archived chat transcripts, a window for livestreaming and much, much more.
5. The role of moderator is to be a guide, but not a dictator. So, I’m going to share a basic guide for keeping the conversation flowing, and encourage you to abandon the guide if it doesn’t make sense, or if the conversation is fun and fast-paced without your interference.
- 00-05 Introductions (Hi everyone! Please introduce yourself and tell us why this topic is important to you!)
- 05-20 Q1 (after tweeting the question, be sure to remind people about the topic every 5 minutes)
- 20-35 Q2
- 35-50 Q3
- 50-00 Finish/Pitch/Share Links (We have 10 minutes left — please share any links, news or questions you have with the group!)
I tend to over-communicate as moderator — I like to remind people of the current topic and count down to the next topic or question. If somebody asks a question or says something particularly interesting, I do RT it, but tend to stay in moderation (aka neutral) mode as much as possible.
So how do you come up with good topics?
- Through the week, look and see what’s “buzzing” in your niche, whether it’s on blogs, Twitter, news or elsewhere. Make a note of any big events or stories that happened during the week.
- ASK! I spend time through the week asking my community for help — reminding them that they can use the hashtag to call news and stories to my attention. I also give out my e-mail address.
- Especially during the day of the chat, check Twitter’s trending topics — it’s a great way to see what people are already talking about, and bring the conversation into your chat.
- Keep your ears/eyes open. See what people are tweeting (and RT’ing) about.
In terms of staying organized, these chats are FAST, no matter what you do. I remind participants to use the correct Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. so we’re all clear on what question they’re responding to. Some people fall behind the flow or the chat or come in late, and it can be confusing if they don’t spell out what they’re talking about.
That’s my quick how-to guide for moderating chats. I made many of the rules up as I went along, so I’d love to hear your input.