Behind the Scenes of a HootChat
On February 9th, 2017, Mediative participated in our first #HootChat, and I wanted to share our experience of the day!
Our team, consisting of Carolina Rivera, Kitty Yu (me) and Dylan Welch arrived at the Hootsuite offices, at 111 E 5th Ave on a rare snowy day, 20 mins before the HootChat was set to start. Their offices are pretty cool – all alpine lodge themed so there were wooden skis and vintage snowshoes on the walls, and all the meeting rooms are named after Ski Mountains in BC. We were led into our meeting room with 10 mins to start time, and were a bit stressed since we still had to set up and connect to Wi-Fi! There were 11 people in total, us 3 from Mediative and 8 on the Hootsuite team (seven girls and one guy – trust me this is relevant)…. EIGHT PEOPLE for a chat – apparently that’s how you gotta run them!
T-minus 2 mins and the Mediative team had some technical problems!! We did some fast problem solving and were setup with a min to spare. ‘Ready for the first question?’ All hands are hovering over keyboards. ‘First question has been posted!’ It’s 12 noon. Here we go!
The Mediative Team, from the far right: Dylan Welch, Kitty Yu, and Carolina Rivera.
As soon as the HootChat starts, everything is silent, the only the sound in the room of 11 people sitting side by side is keys clacking away on the keyboard. I make a comment that I’ve never been in a room with so many people sitting in complete silence and there’s little wave of laughter through the room. A HootChat require intense focus.
You can feel that everyone is super focused and really busy – the HootChat moves at lightning speed; everyone has a task – moderating, engaging, posting questions, finding potential Hootsuite ambassadors. Hootsuite is giving away a swag bag this week so we’re all told to be on the lookout for really perfect comments that sum up the discussion this week in just 140 characters.
As the chat picks up the team starts relaxing and talking together – sharing remarks that are really witty, hilarious or perfect insights. We’re laughing, chatting and typing all at the same time– everyone is multitasking on their computers and their phones (yes two devices – all that female brainpower :P) and it’s a fun, frantic atmosphere! The team starts discussing some chat participants like old friends – they know the regular participants and their online personalities. It really is a great community of people! It feels like a long hour because we were all constantly on high speed – reading as fast as we could, engaging as fast as possible, thinking on our feet, and typing as quickly as our fingers would allow!
Halfway through some tangent conversations begin floating around in the HootChat and subsequently in our room about #nationalpizzaday and how hungry we all are. Since it’s hosted at 12pm, apparently this happens at almost every HootChat, but being National Pizza Day, the love of pizza this day in particular was strong!
After an insane 50 mins we’re about to start wrapping up. There are 3 candidates for this week’s swag bag. Their tweets are read out loud and the team have a quick group vote on who should win. We’re all super impressed by that succinct 140-character answer.
At 1pm on the dot, we’re done. We emerge from what seems like the most hectic hour ever, totally unscathed and with a new inside look at Twitter Chats. It’s totally crazy, a bit stressful but definitely a lot of fun. It feels like we’ve had a water cooler discussion with a network of industry people on crack. We all had a great time and thank everyone for their support. The team tells us this HootChat was one of the most successful of the year so we take a few seconds to celebrate but there’s no time for dilly-dallying! The Hootsuite team is running off to their next meetings and we say our final goodbyes – what an exciting time to be alive!
Out of this experience, I have crafted a few tips for anyone hosting a Twitter Chat:
- Get familiar with the platform: This was far from my first Twitter Chat so I was good to go, but familiarizing yourself with the platform beforehand is a MUST. Join a few Twitter Chats leading up to your own and get to know the environment and speed of the conversations. I did a platform tutorial with the team a few days before as well and I had setup no less than 5 streams in Hootsuite to help the team filter the ongoing barrage of questions and answers for our session. We used a mixture of the native Twitter platform, Hootsuite and Twitterfall to monitor the discussion but anything that is timely and you are comfortable with will work well!
- Arrive early: There will always be technical problems. Always. (As we learned!) Make sure you get there early because Twitter Chats start and end on the dot!
- Pre-define your roles: Each member of our team and the Hootsuite team had a role for our Hootchat and without these designations you could easily fall into total chaos. Assign people to engage, reply, and answer questions… and please for the love of your sanity, have more than one person hosting!
- Set up for success: Have the answers to your questions all prepared and easily accessible in a document. (Images work very well here.) Twitter Chats move faster than you think and there’s not a moment to lose. Also make sure your computer has enough power, you’ve gone to the washroom, you have a glass of water and you’re comfortable to not leave your seat for the next 60 mins.
- Engage with your community and HAVE FUN! Engage with as many people as you can, start some threads by replying with interesting questions, keep it light-hearted and DON’T get lost arguing with internet trolls (there will always be one). Try not to stress too much and remember, it’s okay to not reply to every single comment. In the end, Twitter Chats are where people come to discuss ideas and banter with others in the community so make sure you have fun!