So You Wanna Throw A Twitter Party? Here’s How

May 6, 2011
By Lisa Barone in Social Media

You’re on the hunt for a new way to reach your audience. But you don’t just want to reach them; you want to rock them. You want to blow their socks off, wow them with your awesomeness and get them shaking with excitement about your brand. Because people don’t share mediocre, they share things that flat-out knock them over. How do you reach your audience in a way that they’ll notice?

Throw a Twitter Party!

Wait – A what?

A Twitter Party is an online event sponsored by your brand that you can use to meet your customers, announce a service, launch a product, or simply get people talking. You pick the time, the hashtag, and people bring into the conversation. Brands love them because they’re cheap, easy to put together and they have the potential to generate hundreds (if not thousands) of tweets about your brand in just a couple of hours. Customers love them because they’re non-intimidating, fun, and they can attend your party without putting on pants. A few years ago you would have held a Meet-N-Greet at your store front. Now, you hold a Twitter Party.

But how do you organize it? Here are some tips to guide you through hosting your first Twitter Party. You have nothing to fear.

What Will The Party Be Around?

You’ll notice that Twitter Parties are often held around events – real-life events, events within your company, or events completely manufactured by your marketing department. All are fine. What matters is your ability to tie it in to your company and get people excited about it.

For example, if you’re Jose Cuervo, yesterday afternoon would have been a great time to throw a Twitter Party before people headed out for their Cinco De Mayo celebrations. The event would have honored the holiday, but it also would have raised awareness about the brand on one of the most tequila-filled days of the year (well, other than the week before your wedding). Holding a Twitter Party where you talk about the day, give away some branded-swag and encourage people to share their plans is a good way to make sure you’re on the radar of folks 21 and older. You know they’re gonna be downing tequila, you want to make sure they’re downing yours.

Or maybe you don’t make money selling tequila. Maybe you’re in the process of releasing a new book. Throwing a Twitter Party on its release date can help you get the word out, introduce you to potential buyers, and give you an opportunity to answer questions and establish yourself as an expert on the topic. You may even want to give away a few signed copies and earn some buzz that way.

Have Something To Offer

You wouldn’t throw a big party at your house and not offer your guests a little something for attending, so don’t leave them alone on the Internet. Offer them a little something. And by “a little something”, I don’t mean an iPad, I mean something related to who you are and the event you’re throwing. If you’re that book launch, then give away a few signed copies or a consulting session. If you’re a larger brand, give away some free swag or products. If you’re a small business, offer them a discount or a coupon that they can redeem in-store. It doesn’t have to be anything that will break the bank, just a little something to pique their interest.

If you can’t think of something clever to offer up, consider partnering up with someone else or bringing in sponsors who will let you donate some of their goods. If you’re a small bake shop on Main Street, maybe you want to partner with local sporting goods store a few doors down or the grocer up the block. There are tons of opportunities here for creative (and mutually beneficial) partnerships.

Designate Your Hashtag

It’s not a Twitter Party until it has a clever hashtag. If you’re throwing a Twitter Party, you’re probably familiar with the concept of hashtags, but if not, a hashtag is a way that Twitter users catalog information on Twitter. By appending a hashtag to your tweet, you make it searchable and easier for someone to follow along in that conversation.

For example, yesterday’s #cincodemayo hashtag identified tweets that were related to the holiday. If you see a #ff hashtag floating around today, that’s a sign that people are participating in Follow Friday. By clicking on the hashtag, you can see everyone else participating in that conversation.

By designating a hashtag for your event and encouraging others to use it, it helps people follow what’s going on. When you’re selecting a hashtag for your event, you want to select something that will be easy to identify, easy to relate to your business, and short enough that it will be easily appended to a tweet. Be creative, but keep it simple.

Getting the Word Out

Committing to a Twitter Party means committing to promoting that Twitter Party. Because it’s up to you to make sure that the right people show up, and that’s going to take some legwork.

How are you going to get the word out?

  • Promote the party yourself by talking about it on your blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, and other social networks that you and your people belong to.
  • Create a Twitter Party landing page dedicated to the event to help you promote it, as well as to collect attendee information like emails, handles, social profiles, etc.
  • Talk about it in-store and through traditional marketing channels like email and flyers.
  • Reach out to bloggers in your space and get them to talk about it.
  • Get any sponsors to mention it.
  • Partner with an establish Twitter Chat to share resources. There are plenty to choose from.
  • Alert the local media, if appropriate.

The more you promote the event, the more exposure you’ll get from it, so let’s get those self-promotional juices flowin’

What to Know For Game Day:

The big day has arrived! What do you do?

Send out reminders: Put up one last blog post, send out one last email, ping your contacts and get loud about it on Twitter so that everyone knows today is the day. The more mentions people see, the more you’ll pique their interest and make them want to check it out.

Caffeine Up: Go grab yourself some energy drinks or a coffee large enough to swim in (you know, like this one) and get yourself fired up. Because once this thing starts, you’re going to launch into overdrive managing conversations, answering questions, asking new ones, and being the most generous host you can. There’s a party in motion and you are the master of ceremonies. Don’t attempt to call it in like Slim Fast. Instead, be there loud, chatty and in the moment. It’s all led up to this.

Track That Hashtag: Your customers are using your designated hashtag to be part of the fun, don’t you dare miss a thing! To help keep track of what’s going on, use a tool like Twitter Search or a third-party entity like Tweetdeck or Tweetgrid to hone in just on that conversation and filter out the rest of the noise. You can also use a tool like TweetChat to focus just on the conversation happening around your party and they’ll actually append the appropriate hashtag automatically to remove any chance of you flubbing it up.

Engage, Engage, Engage: While the Twitter Party is going on, it’s your job to control the conversation and to keep it moving. Answer questions, point people toward resources, connect folks who would benefit from knowing one another, give away freebies, and focus on showcasing your brand’s personality and unique story. What you DON’T want to do is not be present and leave people to entertain themselves. You want to write a script beforehand to help you keep the conversation flowing in a positive direction. Don’t follow it verbatim, but this your day, make sure you’re using it.

Direct Smartly: This Twitter Party is going to allow you to have some super conversations with your audience, but, let’s not be dumb. You’re trying to market to them. Don’t spam, but also don’t be afraid to point people to your blog, to your email newsletter, to a special landing page on your site, etc.

Evaluate What Just Happened

Woah. Okay. So that was pretty intense. After the Twitter Party has died down and you’ve had a chance to catch your breath, take inventory of everything that just happened.

  • How many new Twitter followers did you pick up?
  • How many people signed up for your email newsletter or took some other call to action?
  • How long did the conversation go on for?
  • How did the hashtag do?
  • How many emails/social handles did you collect from your landing page?

Once you have all the data, create a report for yourself (or your boss) that tells a story around what just happened. It will help you tweak things for next time.

And there you have it. Your fool-proof guide to launching a successful Twitter Party.

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