You'd have to be living under a rock to not have heard about the amazing impression social media has had on the world. The association industry is no exception. A very powerful piece of the social media landscape is Twitter, the micro-blogging platform that notoriously forces users to distill their thoughts into 140 characters or less.
Twitter chats are one way to utilize that free, well-established tool. So should your association jump in with a Twitter Chat? Here are a few questions to help you decide whether to push that initiative.
- What is a Twitter Chat?
A Twitter Chat is basically a real-time conversation that takes place on Twitter using a hashtag (any word or phrase noted by a # symbol which has the purpose of serving as a topic.) For example, every Tuesday members of the association world meet on Twitter at 2:00 pmET using the hashtag #assnchat. Twitter chats use a moderator who leads the discussion by posting questions and keeping the conversation going by responding to answers and drawing other users into the chat. They're generally anywhere from a half hour to an hour long on one focused topic at a time.
- How do associations use Twitter Chats?
The same way you would use any open-style forum or meeting. Bat around ideas, share advice, make connections, and update the participants on what's going on in your association.
- Why do this when we can just have a meeting?
The advantage to having a Twitter Chat is that your members can participate from home, from their offices, watching their kids, watching their favorite show, eating dinner and all without sitting in traffic. In other words, it takes away many of the common complaints of why meetings are inaccessible.
- Will members actually participate?
That depends on a couple factors: the time and topic of your Twitter Chat and whether your members are Twitter users to begin with. Like any association gathering, your topic has to be timely and interesting and provide value to your members on a convenient day and time. A quick informal poll should answer those questions.
- How can I get my members to participate?
Market your Chat the same way you would any event. Post reminders in the newsletter and on your AMS and ask them to share with their friends and colleagues. Beforehand, make sure your Twitter account is active and relevant and your users are following you already. If your members are already active on Twitter but your association is not (or you are not) there may need to be a few months lead in time to establish your followers and your validity in the "Twitterverse."
If your members are not Twitter users and have no interest in it, that doesn't mean you should throw in the towel on social media. Social Media platforms are robust, free tools that will only grow in usage and utility. Check out our free guide to social media for Small Staff Associations by clicking below today!