Twitter Town Halls Explained: How To Start One

October 26, 2012
Federal agencies can use a Twitter town hall address to specific issues quickly. If you?re planning to start one, gather the people and set the online features weeks early.

Introduction to Twitter Town Hall

Twitter chat is also known as a Twitter #townhall. This is the venue wherein various groups and agencies will invite online users in a public gathering at a specified time. In the given meeting, online users can be free to ask questions and acquire information regarding a specific topic on the social media site. The idea is for interested parties, as well as the public, to gather and share information in a town hall setup. Questions are labeled with a hashtag so everyone knows it's specific to the event. The questions will also be forwarded to the agency so that it can address each one properly. The answering party can make use of various methods to reply to the questions in a way that will be viewable to the parties concerned. The Twitter town hall is unique from regular messaging and posting since specific issues and topics are addressed by the main parties involved. The concerned public can directly delve on related issues and get straight answers from the group or individual. Twitter chat has proven to be an effective and quick-acting tool that helps organizations spread information, as well as get in touch with the public for various objectives and programs.

The Key Personnel

When launching a Twitter town hall, it?s vital to prepare the right people to monitor and ensure that all aspects and phases of the setup are properly done. The people required include the host, co-host, the social media manager, the policy administrator and the general counsel. The host primarily works to look for hashtags and ensure that it is used in the best manner. The host account can be the official account of the agency or an account created by the program leader. The co-host assists the host to categorize questions and issues as the host proceeds to other questions and topics. The social media manager ensures that communication between the agency and public is properly done. The flow of activities will be fixed according to the features and tools available on the social media network. The policy administrator is responsible for research and enhancing the quality of posts and replies. These are further simplified to be better read and understood.

Starting a Twitter Town Hall

When planning to start a Twitter town hall, there are key steps to follow. First, promote the activity by choosing a host and then sharing the information a few weeks in advance. Some of the methods to quickly let concerned parties know about the schedule and hashtag include tweeting regularly, writing blogs and using other social media tools. The engagement should also clearly indicate the objectives and policies. Define the topic well so that questions and discussions will only dwell on the real issues. The co-host can help categorize questions so that only the relevant ones will be forwarded to the agency. Prepare the organizing personnel and keep them updated about recent developments and necessary adjustments. Also have them provide quick information about the developments in their respective areas. The associated risks can be pre-determined by the general counsel or attorney. Before and during the event, live chat must be supported and all the people involved must communicate to ensure that the agency and public only relates to the hashtag. Continue updating the information by posting blogs and related information days before the event. Assess the success of the Twitter town hall by making a checklist of the objectives that were successfully reached, the number of people who participated and the response time. To give you an idea how these town halls go, here's a video of a previous town hall hosted by Twitter for US president Barack Obama in July 2012 using the hashtag #AskObama.

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