2 Years & 2 Billion Impressions Later: What I’ve learned hosting a popular Twitter chat

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Over the last two and half years, I’ve had the opportunity to host Startup Canada‘s popular Twitter chat #StartupChats as a volunteer.

It has been an absolute honor to be part of it, and to date, I am proud to say that I have hosted over 200 #StartupChats with an average of 10M impressions since January 2014.

I have hosted over 200 #StartupChats with an average of 10M impressions

12 million twitter chat impressions metrics
12 Million Impressions (12,371,698)

For those who are new to Startup Canada, #StartupChats is one of their online programs that takes place on Twitter every Wednesday and Friday at 12 pm ET.

A Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag. This hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and participate in it. Twitter chats are usually recurring and on specific topics to regularly connect people with these interests, with #StartupChats being one for startups and entrepreneurs.

And after all these chats, I feel that is my responsibility to not only celebrate this milestone, as I had no idea how long I would be in the position but to ultimately share what I have learned after 200 billion impressions.

Connecting and Finding Guests

Being an entrepreneur, having a network of successful entrepreneurs around you can prove to be invaluable when you are growing and scaling your business.

Having the ability to connect and contact said entrepreneurs is second to none.  Working with a growing grassroots organization, like Startup Canada, gave me the tools (or excuse), to connect with anyone.  And being on Twitter, location does NOT matter.

I remember in the early days of the program; I wanted to test out and reach out to people who I have never met.  So I thought I would try to reach out to Patrick Lor, at the time, he had just launched Dissolve, a stock video platform.  It was a great excuse to connect as the chat was about video and was related to his service.

Low and behold, it was much easier than I thought!

Other notable entrepreneurs, I had the pleasure chatting with on the program include, but not limited to were Paul Teshima, Sean Wise, and Clinton Senkow.

Creating Inquisitive yet Conversational Questions

During the “early” days of the program, not only was I finding guests, but I also creating the questions to use.  And honestly, it’s not easy coming up with in-depth issues that are appropriate for Twitter.

Twitter being limited to 140 characters, you need to be sure that the questions that you ask can be answered, not only within 140 characters but allow the guests to provide insight and knowledge.

Of course, there is a workaround, using multiple tweets to give a multi-part answer.  The amazing thing about entrepreneurs, given the limitations of the platform, some people started using video.

Lyndon Johnson, Founder of Think Differently & @COMMSBAR, started providing answers, using video.  I thought it was so creative and gave more face-time in a traditional, text format.  Lyndon, bring it back!

Create Engagement and Make it Fun

It’s pretty amazing seeing all the conversations that emerge through #StartupChats.  Whatever the motivation of each participant, whether it is to marketing, to learn something, or to network, almost always, a real conversation is created.

Listening to everyone’s comments is the second most critical of my job.  Although, for some topics, this is easier said than done.  Having a dozen or so people live chatting about a particular subject and answering the same question provides incredible insight.  It’s like a think-tank where everyone provides their best solution, insight, and experience.  The great answers are retweeted, commented, and liked.

It’s like a think-tank where everyone provides their best answer, insight, and/or experience.  The great answers are retweeted, commented, and liked.

The rules do not change whether hosting a real or virtual event; it’s all about the other person.  In a Twitter chat, you can be successful without being an expert by digging deeper into people’s answer.

Followers, real, organic, people

Being a host for Startup Canada, I tweet from the official account.  Even so, I’ve experienced follower growth, not as fast as I would have expected.

Of the times that I’ve joined in as myself, I would get at least ten more followers.

Twitter chats provide you with an avenue to grow your follower base organically with real people.  Take a look at a snapshot of my Twitter followers based on their interest.

Twitter Chat Followers

I am delighted by the numbers as I am a B2B marketer first and foremost, so having the majority of my followers with the right profile is, and interests are key.

Popular Topics

After two years, I’ve come across many topics from marketing to passion.  Outside looking in, it may not be so obvious which topics may be great.  But after all this time, marketing is still the #1 attended chats.

Marketing topics such as on social media, content marketing, and video marketing are popular and received.  The chats are so busy that I find myself not needed to push the engagement as everyone is so pumped.

It makes sense seeing that Startup Canada is a grassroots organization that supports entrepreneurs.  And the number one issue that entrepreneurs are looking to solve, and perhaps the same reason why they are on Twitter in the first place is marketing.

Having said that, I’ve experienced excellent engagement around work-life balance topics.  How to live the life you wanted.

Create a Tribe

I have the usual suspects of Twitter friends who join each and every chat.  And when they are not there, I do notice and pretty happy when they come back.  The pros and cons of an audience of entrepreneurs are the fact that they are entrepreneurs they get busy.

And when they get busy, it’s difficult to get them back onto the chat.  Perhaps the biggest difficulty for any business or campaign is keeping the customer or community coming back.

Some shout outs to my regular #StartupChats past and present Avi Lambert, Janil Jean, Melloney Campbell, Nunzio PrestaKris Borghesan, Jarrod Goldsmith, Patrick Lyver, Colin Weston, Ashley Hobb, Dave Thomas, Kara Morgan, Matt Seniuk, and more.

Working from Anywhere

I have chosen my lifestyle and made sure my businesses fit into my ideal world, so too has #StartupChats.  I’ve had the opportunity to host these Twitter chats from every different location within Canada, United States, and in Europe.

Since hosting a Twitter chat only takes an hour, and the fact that Startup Canada has grown since I took over the program, I have fewer responsibilities. The topics are lined up with sponsors, guests, questions prepared, and Storify is done.  What’s left is keeping the conversation going, and what better than from a coffee shop in Slovakia, New York, and on the train back to Toronto.

Key takeaways – Always Be Learning

As a fellow entrepreneur, some challenges come up every day.  You may have come across the solution in the past, but because it was not the problem of the day, you may have dismissed the solution into the back of your mind, forgotten in time.

Hosting #StartupChats has helped me more often than not with applicable takeaways.  Whether it is to do with tax planning, marketing, sales, or funding, I find some guidance and solution to my problem of the week.

Not only do we attract entrepreneurs, but we also invite subject matter experts from reputable companies like Intuit Canada, UPS, Microsoft, Nudge, Hootsuite, Procurify, FreshDesk, and Trulioo who are happy to share their knowledge with the community.

Lastly, It’s not about ME, it’s about YOU!

The most important thing I learned through the process, it’s not about me, it’s about you.  For those who take the time to join the chat to either learn, engage, and meet other people, my job is to ensure that I facilitate conversation the best way I can.

Like a host at a house party, I make it a point to welcome everyone who has joined the chat.  Ensuring that people feel welcome are so important to foster a conversation.

Special Shout outs to my #StartupChats team, present and past, who helped me through all the countless hour’s chats – Rachelle DeSorcy, Lindsay McPhee, Jordan Stevens, Ahmad Abdalla , Stephanie Alexiou, Shamim Patel, and Sheena Pulapaka.

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