We’ve likely touched on the topic of sharing ideas vs. going it alone as a writer before–and if we haven’t, there’s a first time for everything.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, I’d like to point out that this isn’t referring to authors out there who work together in writing / producing one story (though that too is a fantastic idea to act on if you and some friends have it in mind). No, what we’re talking about is the time for writers to use social media to its full capacity: the wonders of engagement and new beginnings.
What comes to mind when I (and possibly others of you) think of this are Twitter Chats. Before I go any further, I’d like to clarify that while this involves using hashtags (as we do with normal tweets), Twitter Chats are a whole other meal–one we prepare for after eating all those appetizers (everyday tweets) and prepare for the main course (an online conference of collaboration–one that many businesses, for example, are using to their advantages nowadays).
You’re more than welcome to watch the webinar I have listed above over the advantages of Twitter Chats–but if you feel like reading into it, I’m more than happy to instruct you from there.
Firstly, think of what topic your chat will cover. (For the sake of this blog dealing with creative writing, we’ll keep topics within that scope). For instance, you may host a chat over the topic of thriller novels, or personal essays, memoirs, etc. In any case, knowing what your chat will be about before proceeding to phase two is key. Crawl before you can walk.
Once you’ve picked your topic, no it’s not yet time for promotions. First you must know who’s going to be responsible for Q / As. First you must decide who’s going to be the moderator(s). Who? Who? Who…?
You could request some peoples’ help (whether they be professionals in the topic of your proposed chat, or even local Twitter users who share interest in that topic). I would say that friends (or even family) are your best sources–but friends and family may not always have the knowledge required for the topic that you’re dealing with. So it’s important to step out of your shell and go for what’s needed to make your chat work–not to go for what will save you the anxieties of fear or self-doubt. After all, the worst that can happen is a “No thank you”, in which case you’d move onto the next door open and try your luck there.
Don’t give up on finding that essential someone who could help make your chat a success. Who would want to turn down the opportunity of participating in a Twitter chat, for example, where a well-renowned author in your field will show-up?
In addition to moderators and Q / A handlers (yes, we still have another category to cover), consider having a special guest or two for your chat. On the surface, this doesn’t sound quite necessary–but you may think twice about that if, say, your special guest is that well-renowned author we’ve just mentioned. The guest could even be a representative of a well-known literary magazine–such as Penguin Random House, or HarperCollins. Having special guests for your Twitter chat not only serves as a clever strategy in attracting more participants–but it adds to your list of important connections to rely on in the future of your writing career.
Now that you have your mods / Q & A personnel / special guests / etc., the next step is what you believed (or didn’t believe) to be step # 2: promotion. This is where your creative side steps in. You could create videos with tons of visuals that promote the Twitter chat you’ll be hosting. You could even share one fancy poster on Twitter regarding the event. In either case, make sure to include these essential details in describing your event:
(1) what it’s about,
(2) what day / time the chat is taking place (taking into account time zones as well–and letting participants know how long the chat will last),
(3) what hashtag you’re using,
(4) what special guests / mods / ordinary people / etc. may be involved–one or two names, or maybe even the name of a group, could suffice for this.
From here, keep tweeting / reminding potential audiences on other social media platforms / etc. about your upcoming chat. If you only tell us once that it’s going to happen, we could–and especially me–even forget that a Twitter chat is taking place.
On the day of the chat, be prepared and ready to go exactly at the time the chat begins. Have answerers on stand-by to questions that participants will pose–and make sure your moderators are on their toes to help keep the conversation on its intended path.
On that note, one way to keep the chat’s topic on the “intended path” is to have your chat handlers prepared to ask questions relating to the chat’s topic, which in turn will pose for a response from the audience. Take the Twitter chat #10MinNovelists for example, where questions by the chat hosts start with as “Q1”, “Q2”, etc.–followed by participant replies that begin with “A1”, “A2”, etc
Take, for example, the following Twitter Chat about sweets (where even in-between “Q2”–“A2” formatted tweets, there are users who reply to one another and still stay on topic of the subject matter):
(Truthfully, the more-specific term for what we’re talking about is not so much a Twitter Chat, but an Organized or Planned Twitter Chat. For instance, there are many chats for writers out there–such as #litchat and #wip–that take place 24/7 [like ordinary tweets]. However, the planned chats are the ones that take place during a certain period of time, end, and will either take place again in the future or have served as a one-time event.)
#wip is actually a fine chat to use for getting feedback from other artists (such as your self) on your works in-progress (hence the hashtag’s name). (I unfortunately can’t show a screenshot of it as the tweets are filled with drawn pictures by individuals–works that I don’t have the copyright permissions to show. But you are more than welcome to search Twitter for the #wip chat nd see its wonders for yourself!)
Finally, once the chat is over (according to when you said in promotions that would happen), make sure to thank your audience for coming–either one person or many on the board of your chat could do this. The main point to keep in mind: do it (because it’s only polite of you). #Manners
This is also an Exercises For You blog (and a first of my blogs to have more than one category) because you too can host a Twitter Chat. You don’t have to be a big-time CEO, a certified professional in your field, or even an employee of some small company. All you need is to pick a topic that you know the answers to (but certainly not all the answers). Give your audience some lead-way into teaching you while you teach them. The bottom line–Twitter Chats are all about collaboration and the exchange of beneficial ideas to both parties. What you learn in these conversations could greatly help you in the future–not just as a writer, but as a person of any profession you put your mind to.