Yesterday I co-hosted my first Twitter party, and I have to say, it was a great experience. Stressful, yes (The RSVP list on my Twitter party post was dangerously low on Monday, so I was so worried that the only people who would attend would be the Cardstore.com people and me!). Nerve-wracking, yes (I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to keep track of all the tweets for giveaways and that the conversation would be lame. It's just lil' ol' me, after all, who wants to listen to me or take my advice?). Time-consuming, yes (I spent lots of time promoting the party beforehand on blogging forums, twitter, my own blogs and email lists). Intense, yes (I was gave 110% during the party itself). Fun? Yes! Gratifying? Yes! Succesful? Yes!
I would definitely host one of these again, and if I do, there certain things I would definitely do and not do, based on what I learned from my experience. Not that I'm the gold standard for Twitter party hosts (that would be the fun, amazing and oh-so-resourceful Amy, ResourcefulMom). But I'm sharing with you what worked for me:
1) Let people know about the party well ahead of time. I was asked to do the party less than a week ago, so I felt nervous from the start. I quickly put together a party invite post on my blog and began tweeting out the details. I linked to it on Facebook and various blogger forums, and emailed all the bloggers I know. I included a list of prizes we'd be giving away, with photos, on my party post, so people could see all the great stuff up for grabs and be inspired to attend -- and to tell other people about the party. Word of mouth (or tweet) is key!
2) Plan ahead like you're running a military operation. Decide on points of conversation and questions you'd like to throw out to partygoers. Write out a timeline for the party to keep you on track -- you'll be surprised how time flies! Space out your giveaways throughout the party to keep people interested.
3) Pre-compose some tweets -- welcome tweets, basic info, giveaway announcements, bye-byes, thank you's -- so that you don't have to waste twitter party time typing it all out and making sure they meet the word max. You can put them in a Word or Notebook document, then copy and paste into your twitter app.
4) Speaking of twitter apps, I used Tweetchat, which keeps track of all tweets with your party hashtag, automatically adds the hashtag at the end of your tweets, and refreshes automatically at a speed you set. I actually used 2 machines. My laptop had Tweetchat on it with the highest refresh rate possible -- that's how I monitored all the tweets. I sent all my tweets from Tweetchat on my desktop, with a refresh rate of about 15 seconds.
5) Find something for the kids to do during the actual party. And find someone to take care of them. There will NOT be time for you to step away from your computer during the actual party! If one of your kids spills his milk, have his older sister wipe it up. You can always reward her later.
6) At the party, don't focus solely on asking questions or announcing giveaways. Join the conversation, reply to partygoers, and retweet any tweets that you find particularly profound, funny, helpful or cool! You might just meet a new twitter friend!
7) Relax, and don't worry so much. Twitter partygoers are awesome. They are so supportive, and they will take your conversation prompts and run away with it in ways you can't even imagine.
If I think of anything else, I'll add it here. Good luck, and enjoy your twitter party!