As PR pros, we are wired to think outside the box. Many times, that’s a good thing. But when it comes to tweet chats, be predictable, do less and for the love of god, don’t be creative. After hosting more than a dozen tweet chats for wine clients, I swear by these five tips to organize a successful chat:
- Be selective: Less is more, especially when trying to squeeze your key messages and a virtual wine tasting into a single hour (a good length). Resist the urge to do too much – that applies to the amount of people you invite and the number of wines you taste. A good rule of thumb: Select three wines and ship samples in advance to a dozen people, hoping that eight will actually join the tweet chat. Great if some random wine enthusiast joins the conversation too, but eight-ish confirmed participants with a solid Twitter following are a solid foundation.
- Be predictable: Nothing is more annoying than being clueless about the order in which the moderator will taste the wines. When tasting both red and white wines, communicate the tasting order ahead of time, so people have enough time to chill the whites (and take them out of the fridge at the right time, too).
- Be obvious: By far the most popular industry hashtags on Twitter are #winechat and #winewednesday. Both are self-explanatory and easy to remember. Don’t be too creative when choosing a hashtag for your event. #AintNobodyGotTimeForThat.
- Be German: Germans (and Austrians – trust me, I am one) are widely known for their attention to detail, sometimes to an annoying extent. As it turns out, this trait comes in handy. Always send a tracking number when ordering samples for a participant. Tech sheets are not complete until you include the suggested retail price. Check which local retailers carry the samples you are sending in the markets your tweet chat contributors live in. Shall I go on?
- Be honest: Budgets are tight these days, so it’s ok to be honest about your expectations when recruiting tweet chat participants. In exchange for samples, it’s only fair to ask if they can promote the event to their followers in advance. If they are no-shows at your tweet chat, follow up and ask if they could taste the samples for consideration on their blogs instead. State your expectations clearly and at the very beginning to limit potential misunderstandings.
Don’t bother hosting a tweet chat if you can’t follow these simple rules. Just choose a different tool from your PR toolkit to generate good online buzz. For example, inviting social influencers to celebrate a “wine day” (my colleague Caroline Helper recently wrote about her experience with Languedoc Day) can be another effective method to increase social engagement.