How to moderate a Twitter chat

moderate Twitter chat
Here’s a one hour video of a Hangout On Air that Jenise Fryatt & I held July 24, 2012 on How to moderate a Twitter Chat.

To decide whether this is a valuable use of your time I’ve listed below the topics and tips we covered from our summary notes.

Introduction – 5 minutes
Jenise & me intros
– poll of participants; brief answers; tweet if watching
– Q1) who wants to start a new chat? moderate an existing chat; chat name?
– Q2) what’s the most important thing you’d like to get out of this hangout?

Set up – 12 minutes
Presence on the web – 2 minutes
helpful to have permanent place for chat on web: wiki, WordPress site
– include schedule, format, rules, chat archives (use Storify)

Chat formats – 3 minutes
fixed or rotating moderators
1+ moderators on busy chats
topic based
pre-announced questions
moderator asks pre-determined questions
to all
to guests first, and then opens up discussion

Choosing a topic – 2 minutes
something that can be usefully covered in an hour
“how to do something”
“tips for doing something”
controversial current topic

Tools – 3 minutes
TweetDeck/HootSuite columns
chat hashtag; mentions; DMs columns
use when you don’t want hashtag at end of tweet
keep as a backup in case Tweetchat goes down/is slow (rare)

Preparation – 2 minutes
gather up topic links in advance
crowdsourced topics
write out Qs in advance so you can paste them into your Twitter client

Publicizing chat – 3 minutes
through SoMe: Twitter hashtag communities, LinkedIn groups, FaceBook pages, G+ circles


Running the chat – 23 minutes
Protocol – 2 minutes
welcome as many participants as you can
encourage first-timers, lurkers to tweet

Welcome everyone – 4 minutes
moderator intro (write out in advance include welcome, your name, who your with, topic for today and welcome guest if any)
participant intros, including ice-breakers
possibilities: names, company, location
ice-breaker question: favorite candy, unusual experience etc.

Heart of the chat -12 minutes
asking questions
concentrate on making them clear (in advance?)
make tweets stand-alone
participants often RT questions
number them Q1), Q2) and ask participants to answer w/ A1) A2)
keep track of time; have a plan for time available to get through Qs you’ve prepared
but be flexible if circumstances dictate
don’t be rushed by anything; don’t feel bad if you miss a tweet or two, we are human; can always go back after the chat & respond then
consider ignoring trollish/annoying behaviour

end of chat – 5 minutes
ask for takeaways
thank moderators, guests
mention next topic/guest(s)/time
describe where/when archive will be posted


Post-chat – 8 minutes
use Storify for archives (login first, click on save regularly, laggy!)
Jenise: can add rich media (videos) to Storify; create threads (subheads, move Tweets around)

Questions on how to moderate a Twitter chat? Ask them below!

Survey results on the future of #eventprofs chat

Earlier today I posted, via Twitter, a five question chat survey to gather opinions about the future of chats. Here it is:

survey #eventprofs chat

I received 23 responses in the following 8 hours—thank you to everyone who took the time to respond! (And a big thank you to several respondents who offered to moderate a chat for the first time.)

The survey responses

Responses to Q2 (changes => more likely)
1x a week would make it easier for me. it was more about the consistency then the times. I used to have them in my schedule then took them out – inconsistent. it has been much better now.
I think it would be good to have some testimonials and do a bit of promotion around that. You know “great chat learned loads and all very useful”
I would rather see it as a once monthly event to look forward to where the whole community was online and more engaged
once a week during the day.
I would prefer a change to the hashtag so that there is less interference during the chat from other users. Reminders via email are helpful (thanks for today’s reminder).
timing is not as important as topic although day time chats are better for me.
Looking forward to that discussion this evening. (Sorry, still pondering.)
mid-weekly chats 8 or 9pm
I am on EST time. The chat on Tuesdays at night never works for me. I try not to work after I leave the office 🙂 I think lunch time is great on Thursdays. Two per week is a lot. I also think that having people from the community is a great way to promote the chats. Wish we could make the community a little more organized in a way. The wiki is ok but having a whole site dedicated to would be cool – chat schedule, topics, past topics, transcripts, list of members, list of moderators and frequency, twitter stats, maybe even syndicate the blog content or have a location that lists all resources everyone is sharing, meetups in your city, links to other sites, etc. Any way you can help the moderators and members promote themselves would get more people to engage and contribute I think. The hashtag is also used very widely know… maybe we should have a sepearte tag for the chats themselves. It would be cool to have an member badge! [Adrian: there is an eventprofs badge!]
I would like to attend on Mondays rather than Thursdays. With my kids 9PM on Tuesday is never doable and Thursday is always a busy day. It would be nice to start the week off with Eventprofs!
Would prefer chats on Friday & Monday instead of mid-week. More convenient times for Europe GMT+1 = end of the afternoon or early evening after 8 pm Less chats; one topic only. Other platform then twitter not to bother no event tweeps to much 🙂 More attendees also like to see more end-users/customers to get their insight
I believe 1 chat per week is appropriate…2 is too many. Plus there is a difference between a corporate event and a special event; a public event and a private event. Someone who plans education for associations does not have the same needs/problems/challenges as someone who plans an awards dinner. Yes, there is some overlap, but… So I believe extremely focused chats are the best solution with the specific audience listed in the promotion of the chat. IMO that is the best way to have successful, solution driven chats.
Once a week during the work day with existing format and a way to filter out sales promotions.
Evenings are tougher for me, maybe a bit earlier in the day would make it easier.
I think once a week would be sufficient. You can rotate between Thursday and Tuesday to hit people with different time zones,
It’s always hard for me, on the West Coast to attend the Thursday chats as they are during work hours. If we could have them at 5 pm Pacific or 8 pm EST, then it would be easier to attend. 6 pm is also a little tough as it is time I normally would be driving home.
I’m usually too busy during the day for the chats, and I’m usually off the computer before the evening chats. I might be able to join more with an early evening time. Timing doesn’t affect how I recommend them, though, as this is just my schedule.
Use of different technology occasionally along with twitter, (Google Hangouts, Skype, Webinar format, video, etc)
earlier times for late chat (due to time difference). format is good. maybe more chats with guests (ask a colleague), or chats about specific events and their challenges. change in hashtag for chats?


Responses to Q3 (changes => less likely)
i like when there are more questions – or more then one – also – they could be posted somewhere before the chat
I should be able to attend on a more regular basis. My problem is working out what time they are happening. A GMT note would be really useful for me
While evening chats are more convenient, I am often busy with personal plans and would rather not use that time as work
I’m on pacific time. Any chats that take place during the night aren’t good for me.
more chats, less chats
Again, topic more important but evening chats ET cut into personal time and that is tough to make each week.
Can’t think of any reason except that maybe if the chats decline in frequency so that you can’t always count on them, or if less people start showing up. I always recommend the chats to colleagues tho!!
Hosting the chat in the evening or in a different format: conference call, webcast or G+ hangout. Most of my colleagues are on Twitter and have yet to embrace G+ fully.
Content is more of a driver than the timing and format, etc.
No not at all. People are very busy having to put forth tons of time and effort for business development. Projects are being assigned with short windows for planning and execution so people have less time.
If they were always just during working hours.
Staying the same week in and week out. Let’s experiment and diversify as much as possible
pushing the time to later in the day or evening – that would make it impossible to join

Summary of survey results

[Warning! Small sample! Apply caution before drawing conclusions!]

Six people preferred reducing the frequency to one chat a week. Five people seemed to imply through their comments that the frequency be kept as is. The remainder did not mention changing the frequency, except for one person who suggested once a month.

Time of day
Five people preferred holding the chats during the day/working hours, while three preferred evenings. Not surprisingly, the three European respondents did not want 9pm EST chats.

Separate hashtag
Three people suggested having a separate hashtag for the chat.

Other suggestions
Promotion: do more, use testimonials, help promote moderators, better website.
Platform: use other platforms besides Twitter.
Content: more guests, post questions before chat, focused topics.


Keeping the small sample size in mind, I have to conclude that there wasn’t an obvious majority in favor of any specific change. That’s not to say we should keep things the way they are. If we tried out a once per week chat, I’d be in favor of rotating the day/time so that people who can’t make a specific date/time combination wouldn’t be completely locked out. I’d also love to improve the functionality/ease of use of the website as some suggested, though I’d need some help to make this a reality (offers welcome!) Finally, I’m still really undecided about changing the hashtag for the chat. Using a new hashtag might cut down promotional tweets (though I suspect they’d invade any new hashtag eventually) but would cut off exposure to the 2+ years development of the brand, such as it is.

Did you miss the survey, or this evening’s chat? Feel free to add your comments below!

How to archive Twitter chats

With the recent demise of the wthashtag service, it has become increasingly difficult to create a text archive of Twitter chats. As the organizer of the popular twice-weekly chats, I have been looking for a replacement. Tweetreports offers a free pdf report, but other output formats cost $9+/month.

So here are step-by-step instructions for using the two-year old TwapperKeeper service, together with a copy of Excel, to create a text archive of your Twitter chat.

Note: Please don’t use TwapperKeeper excessively. Twitter’s Terms Of Service and rate limiting can affect their ability to offer their service for free. Such issues caused wthashtag to shut down. Let’s not inflict the same fate on TwapperKeeper.

To create a #hashtag archive before your first chat (one-time only)

  1. Go to TwapperKeeper. Sign in with Twitter.
  2. Click on the “search for an archive” button to see if there’s already an archive for your chat. (Enter the hashtag for your chat without the hashmark.) If there isn’t, click on the “create #hashtag archive” button to create one.
  3. Once you’ve created a #hashtag archive for your chat, TwapperKeeper will maintain the archive for future use. Bookmark the link for future reference: here’s the link for the archive.

To obtain a text transcript of your Twitter chat

  1. Go to TwapperKeeper. Sign in with Twitter.
  2. Go to the archive link bookmark you created above (it will have the form “” where “xxxxxxxx” is the hashtag for your archive).
  3. You’ll need to enter the start and end time for your chat in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). You can use TimeZone Converter to convert the local start and finish times for your chat into GMT. Enter start & end date and times, change the “View Limit” to a number larger than the number of tweets in your chat, and click on “query”.
  4. Select all of the report that is relevant to the chat, then copy (Ctrl + C).
  5. Open a blank spreadsheet in Excel, with the A1 cell selected.
  6. Choose Paste Special… from the Edit menu and select “Text”. Click OK.
  7. Select all the cells in Column A that contain data. You should be looking at something like this:
  8. Note the first few characters of the rows containing the dates (in the above example, they would be “Thu “).
  9. Now we’re going to delete any rows that contain “tweet details”, the date of the tweet, or blanks by using Excel’s filter command. First, select Filter from the Data menu and then AutoFilter. A checkmark will appear next to AutoFilter in the menu, and you’ll see a small double-arrow scrollbar appear in the A1 cell, like this:
  10. Click on the double arrows and choose (Custom filter…). From the first drop down, choose “begins with” and type “tweet details” into the text box, like this:
  11. Click OK. Now select all the rows shown that start with “tweet details”. Make sure row 1 is not selected. Choose Delete Row from the Edit menu.
  12. Click on the double arrows again and choose (Custom filter…). From the first drop down, choose “begins with” and type the first few characters of the date you noted in step 8 into the text box. Click OK.
  13. Select all the rows that start with the date. Make sure row 1 is not selected. Choose Delete Row from the Edit menu.
  14. Click on the double arrows and choose (Custom filter…). From the first drop down, choose “does not contain” and type a “?” into the text box. Click OK.
  15. Select all the highlighted empty rows. Make sure row 1 is not selected. Choose Delete Row from the Edit menu.
  16. Finally, click on the double arrows for the last time and choose (Show All). Success! Each row contains one tweet from the chat.
  17. If you wish, scan the rows and delete any that contain non-chat tweets.
  18. Select the remaining rows and copy (Ctrl + C).
  19. Congratulations! A text archive of your Twitter chat is now stored on your Clipboard, ready to be pasted into the web page or document of your choice. (Final tip: You may need to use Paste Special to transfer the information so it formats correctly.)

Is there a better way of archiving Twitter chats? Please let us know when you find one—but test it first to make sure that it 1) reliably includes all the tweets and 2) can produce text output.

#eventprofs life-work balance survey results

#eventprofs life-work balance 2799505769_6b61dac85b_b

Having agreed to moderate an chat this evening, I thought I’d whip up a short, anonymous survey on ’ life-work balance. I received 21 responses in the ten hours the survey was open, and here are the results:

1. How many days in a week do you normally work?


2. How many hours in a day do you normally work?


3. How many hours in a day do you spend traveling to work?


4. How do you feel about the amount of time you spend at work?


5. Do you ever miss out any quality time with your family or your friends because of pressure of work?


6. Does your organization offer any of the following options for work/life balance? Are there options you would like your organization to offer?


Other comments:


7. On a scale from 1 (extremely poor) to 10 (extremely satisfied), how would you rate your current work-life balance?


8. Please add any additional comments about your work-life balance here.


Title image attribution: / CC BY-ND 2.0

So those are the results of my informal poll on life-work balance.

What issues make it hard for event professionals to maintain a healthy work-life balance? What has helped you or others ? Feel free to add your own comments!