I held my first Twitter chat the other night. My emotions were all over the place.
The chat itself started off very slowly. It was only me, @DRWillisBooks, and @JewelELeonard at the beginning. @SpartaGus and @Alex_Micati joined in and helped out (thanks, guys!). Then @ceeleeolson and @KaelanRhy popped in as well as @erikafrose (thank you too! It was nice to see you!). After that, there were enough participants it didn’t sound like crickets, and as the chat went on more people joined in.
Yes, the first ten minute were very nerve-wracking, and I saw my whole Twitter chat future go down the drain. I imagined the worst-case scenario rather quickly, but it wasn’t necessary.
Though the chat was on the smaller side in terms of participants, it was my first, so that’s to be expected. I think everyone had a good time, nonetheless.
I understand if people were a bit leery—who really knows what a #smutchat could turn into— but my main goal is to keep it informative and classy. I want participants to have fun, and there were a few naughty jokes mixed in, which is fine as we are romance/erotica writers after all. I don’t see the harm in it as long as for the most part the chat maintains a rep as being informative and fun.
I was pleased to see people answering the questions long after chat closed for the evening, and my phone was blown up the next morning with notifications of people participating in the middle of (my) night and into the morning.
I will try my best to touch base with everyone individually, but I do hope that this chat takes off, and participants are happy to chat amongst themselves about the topics as well.
I was a bit disappointed not many jumped at the book giveaway, but that would have been caused by many things—people missing the tweet, or lack of interest in the book. Maybe people didn’t realize the giveaway is open to all countries. (My giveaways always will be.)
I had to work the next day, so I wasn’t able to answer all my notifications right away, but I will always try.
I think I will always announce the winner of the book and announce the date of the next chat at the same time—provided there is still a want for the chat.
I appreciate everyone who participated in my first chat, and I welcome feedback. Please DM me on Twitter or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some things I learned and mistakes I made during my first Twitter chat, plus tips if you’re thinking of starting your own chat:
- Don’t panic if you get off to a slow start, but definitely have good friends to help get the traffic moving. Plus I did tweet about the chat almost once every day for two weeks before the chat. This will help keep the chat in people’s minds and give them a chance to schedule the time to participate.
- Figure out how you’re going to give your prize away beforehand. I set up a Rafflecopter account and tried the demo before I did my chat. I still made mistakes. When I tweeted about the giveaway and provided the link, I linked to my WordPress.com admin page for my website, not the actual website page. I think this may have caused people who use the WordPress software but are not actually part of WordPress blogging network to log in, which they wouldn’t be able to do. @drwillisbooks had this issue. I realized it in the middle of chat what I did and did eventually linked to the right page, but I may have missed a few people who wanted to enter and thought they couldn’t.
- When I announced the winner, I tweeted a screenshot of the Rafflecopter winner so everyone would know I just didn’t pick someone (this rules out favoritism). Rafflecopter adds personal information to the winner pick that shouldn’t be made available to the public. A kind person on Twitter called me out on it, and I took the tweet down. Luckily it had only been up for maybe 45 minutes so hopefully, no harm was done. I wasn’t impressed with Rafflecopter as a whole anyway, so I am going to look for another way to give my books away during chat.
- Keep a tab open for Notifications and the #smutchat hashtag. Hosting a chat was new to me, so sometimes even I forgot to add the hashtag to my tweets. Keeping both windows open allowed me to keep an eye on both sets of traffic.
- Be actively involved on Twitter and in the community you are a part of. Having friends who supported me definitely helped. I couldn’t have done it without them.
- Try to choose a night that does not host a lot of other chats. I researched a good night for chats, and chose Thursdays. I know nights may not always work for everyone, but you won’t please everyone so you need to choose a night that works best for you, as you are the host and moderator and need to focus on the chat.
- Be prepared to be online for longer than the chat. Late-comers started answering questions almost at the very end of the chat, which is perfectly fine, but if you want to give them a personal “hello, thanks for playing,” be prepared to be online for a lot longer. I may eventually call this the “chat after party” since I was online for 2 ½ hours for a one hour chat.
- Space out your questions. Sometimes I let too many minutes go by between questions. If you stick to a schedule this will keep the chat moving more easily as your participants will have a new question to answer. I don’t think it was too obvious, but sometimes I forgot to put up question because I was busy chatting.
And that is all the tips I have for now. I don’t know how the second chat will go, as I’ll be trying out a new giveaway mechanism, so there will be another learning curve. Overall, hosting the chat was fun, and I have questions already made up for many more. I hope you all join me!