May 15, 2015

I’m all a-twitter about TweetChats

Have you ever been on a TweetChat? Me neither, until last night.

I was a guest on Viveka Von Rosen’s weekly chat on Twitter about LinkedIn – called “LinkedInChat.” It’s held every Tuesday at 6 p.m. Mountain Time, and she gets huge audiences, given that she already has 82,000 followers on Twitter. In fact, records showed we had more than 13 million impressions that evening.

What in the world am I talking about? Yup, that was the same reaction I got from several of my friends and family when I was all a-twitter after our chat.

Today you don’t have to be on a physical stage or at a wooden podium to bring your product or service into the spotlight. You can bring the focus onto your business by taking the lead online. You get potentially bigger audiences (much bigger!) and no preparation muss, fuss or travel needed.

Here are some of the ways you can shine on a digital stage these days: Webinars, TweetChats, Google Hangouts, podcasts, live-streaming shows and screen-sharing meetings. Don’t be afraid to try one – or two!

Webinars

Think of these as online lectures. People usually use PowerPoints to talk from and they explain their slides one by one. They typically last about 50 minutes and then leave room for questions during the last 10 minutes. They are becoming synonymous with “webcasts,” which used to be strictly one-way communication – but with pervasive new technology, interaction is enabled.  Now webinars and webcasts alike provide ways for people to ask questions and even “talk amongst themselves.”

Instead of slides, you can also do a videocast, where you demonstrate something via your computer’s webcam or via a video camera set up in your office or lab.

TweetChats

TweetChats are live discussions that take place on Twitter about a pre-determined topic. Tweets related to the discussion are marked with a hashtag (a word or phrase preceded by the # sign).

TweetChats are where you get to share your expertise with very interested people who jump on to hear just what you are talking about.

There are no slides to prepare; it’s largely off the cuff – but do come prepared with some predetermined questions and answers so there’s no “radio silence.”

Just cut and paste from your Word document when a planned question arises, so there’s no fumbling. Mostly though, be spontaneous with casual replies to questions that often come up right in the moment.

I found it best to have someone at my side to help me field the questions and responses as they came in – and to use a service like Twubs.com, where the chat’s hashtag is pre-embedded in every tweet I wrote.

Every business can run a TweetChat and the numbers are potentially staggering. You can analyze attendance metrics via a tool such as Hashmetrics, which told us about the 13 million exposures we had in one hour. Your Twitter following will certainly rise too.

If you want to get started, lurk on someone’s TweetChat and even pipe in as you get the hang of things. One day your host may get to know your “type” and invite you on as an expert!

Google Hangouts

A private way for up to nine people to gather – with their video cameras “on” (or not) and talk in real time, for free. Want to be public about it? You can sign up for Hangout On Air, and make your event visible to others. You have to link the On Air feature to your YouTube account the first time, and then your Hangouts will be saved in your channel for posterity (or until you take them off).

You can see a schedule of public Hangouts On Air on the left side of your Google Plus page. Or go here. https://plus.google.com/hangouts/onair.

Interesting topics abound. I may get distracted myself by the Veggie Coach teaching how to make a fine Macho Gazpacho today.

Podcasts

Think of this as radio with you as the host. But it’s not at a set time. You record your “show” and then people can play it any time they “tune in” on iTunes or your website.

You don’t just do one podcast; it’s episodic. What can you talk about in a series of sessions? Does your expertise spread over a wide range of topics? Plan out a schedule where you produce a new show every week.

One of the great things about podcasts is that your competitors likely haven’t gravitated to this method of marketing yet.

People can play your podcast in their car or while out running. A podcast is portable, and people are all ears!

Live streaming of events

Let’s say you are running a large event in a convention center or a small one at an Elks Club – and not everyone can attend from out of town. What to do? Live stream the event for people who can’t physically join you. I’ve heard of churches doing their Sunday services this way. Ignite Fort Collins streams its “edu-tainment” events from the Lincoln Center. Apple Computers live streamed its recent Watch announcement. Someone I know streamed her baby shower (thank goodness, not the actual birth). Quarterly financial reports occasionally are presented from a dais right in the company’s boardroom.

How do you get this daunting thing accomplished? Check into U-Stream, FORA-tv or wowza for some great ideas on broadcasting your special event – and turn it over to the experts.

Screen-sharing meetings

We have clients in Toronto as well as “way far away” south Fort Collins. Sometimes it’s just easier to share your research results or your marketing plan over the airwaves.  We subscribe to the Join.me service, and they provide free numbers to call into from anywhere in the world. We have our own URL to share with our clients when we want to hold a meeting. It’s join.me/blueskiesmarketing – easy to remember and announce.

We show our screen and even can share the mouse control with our clients. We can record the meeting, too. There are similar services, including a popular one from Citrix called “GoTo Meeting” where 25 users and one organizer can meet. Larger audiences can be accommodated with more expensive monthly subscriptions.

You even can share your face on these screen-sharing programs via your webcam – but I don’t have plans to do that anytime soon.

Laurie Macomber, owner of Fort Collins-based Blue Skies Marketing, can be reached at 970-689-3000.

Have you ever been on a TweetChat? Me neither, until last night.

I was a guest on Viveka Von Rosen’s weekly chat on Twitter about LinkedIn – called “LinkedInChat.” It’s held every Tuesday at 6 p.m. Mountain Time, and she gets huge audiences, given that she already has 82,000 followers on Twitter. In fact, records showed we had more than 13 million impressions that evening.

What in the world am I talking about? Yup, that was the same reaction I got from several of my friends and family when I was all a-twitter after our chat.

Today you don’t have to be on…

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