— Senator Kay Hagan (@SenatorHagan) June 6, 2012
Twitter town halls are all the rage this election. An endless stream of presidential and congressional candidates have tried variations on a theme. Many basics are now widely understood, such as creating a hash-tag to organized the event. Yet one question goes unconsidered: where are people watching?
On Twitter, of course! More likely than not, participants will catch glimpses of your event streaming through their timeline. In this case, other tweets get thrown in the mix and the central conversation is quickly lost. Users tend to tune into only parts of the Q&A, then become easily distracted by some other funny tweets or links.
The answer is to create a dedicated page for viewing any Twitter event. We’ve found a primacy/recency effect with Twitter town halls, where tweets introducing and concluding the event get the widest reach. This was true of Obama’s surprise mini Twitter town hall two weeks ago. That means you can direct significant traffic by including a link with the introductory tweet.
Twitter itself provides a search widget that can be used to display tweets for any hash-tag. If you want to respond to questions from Twitter via video, Livestream integrates social media streams alongside your live feed. Afterwards, Storify your event as Senator Hagan demonstrates above, but make sure to embed the result in your website before driving traffic.
You can expect a combination of die-hard supporters and curious constituents to visit events such as Twitter town halls. The key to remember is that people get bored and easily distracted. It is much better for that to happen on your campaign website, where they can then explore your issues, videos, store, volunteering, etc. There should always be an emphasis on conversion of constituents into supporters or supporters into donations and volunteers.
Tweets should simultaneously direct individuals to whatever conversion points you find critical. Governor Buddy Roemer held a couple of town halls while seeking the Americans Elect nomination. We built a dedicated webpage with direct links to “add your support” for Governor Roemer on Americans Elect. Tweets from the Governor also directed the town hall audience to add their support. This coordination is incredibly effective for driving traffic and channeling supporters.
If you’re thinking of hosting a controlled dialogue on Twitter, Contact Us. We develop custom platforms based on the Twitter API that fit seamlessly into your existing website. Some unique features we can provide include multiple streams that segregate the central conservation from public commentary; different modes for before, during, and after the event; auto-updating participant statistics; and our newest creation that I term the streaming FaceWall.