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4 Steps to Launching a Successful Twitter Chat

by Steve Woodruff  |  
October 19, 2010

Lisa Petrilli and I launched the inaugural edition of #LeadershipChat on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 8 p.m. Eastern standard time.

It surpassed our wildest expectations.

More than 180 people from around the world joined in the conversation, and more than 1,350 tweets were sent---stunning for any chat’s first night out of the gate.

But what was much more impressive to us than the numbers was the stratospheric level of the conversation.  There was genuinely smart debate around leadership insights, experiences, and sources---and in some cases blatant and ardent disagreements that were respectful and often laced with humor.

That’s exactly what a vigorous discussion should be like. We loved it!

Lisa says that, having grown up in an Italian family where loud voices and arm waving are not only the norm but mean you’re among family, it felt good to be a part of the chat. It represented our version of sitting around a very large dinner table, perhaps in Tuscany, where every guest has a seat at the table and the conversation is stimulating, vibrant and passionate. For Steve, who grew up in a more restrained New England environment, the free-wheeling type of discussion we experienced at #LeadershipChat is always refreshing.

If there is a “real essence” to social media, this felt like it.

We believe there are 4 key reasons the first #LeadershipChat was so successful:

1. We gave it a lot of thought before deciding to move forward, making sure we were committed and prepared.

We hope that this turns out to be a long-running weekly event, so we discussed our ability to commit to the day and time and our genuine enthusiasm and commitment.  Lisa believes that the fact that she’s been attending #blogchat quite regularly for a year now enabled her to “learn from the best” (Mack Collier) and to understand what it takes to be a great host. Steve has participated in enough chats to gain a sense of what works---and what might work better. We also decided that our promotional approach would be fun and a little offbeat, using video, graphics, and a touch of snark to gain exposure.

2. We tried to make the format unique to the topic and something that would provoke smart discussion.

We’ll learn as we go, but right now we’re excited about the plan to discuss a different leadership article each week, with Lisa posting her perspective on it Monday mornings on her blog, and Steve creating and sharing a “counterpoint” video on his blog every Tuesday morning.  We’ll turn it over to the #LeadershipChat participants on Tuesday evenings to run with it and tell us what they believe.

As we shared when we announced the launch, we see ourselves offering a “chat with a twist.” We’ll be something like your morning DJs, a “he said/she said,” “yin and yang” of leadership with Steve coming from the entrepreneurial and small business side of leadership while Lisa’s experiences have predominantly been with Fortune 500 companies and leaders. And we definitely won’t shy away from controversial topics, with lots of room for diverse opinions!

3. We know a lot of smart people.

What we really mean by this is that connections matter, and we both have always been very committed to nurturing our networks for the long haul.  Anyone wanting to start an endeavor like this wants to begin with an existing base of fans and friends. They helped spread the word for us about the chat and participated wholeheartedly.  In the end, they made the chat the success that it was.

4. We believe in the “why.”

Leadership is a topic we’re both passionate about.  Being leaders has affected our lives deeply and the leaders we’ve worked with have left their imprint, for good and for bad. As new structures of business increasingly rise to the forefront through the instrumentality of social networks, our understanding of what makes a good leader (or what makes a leader at all) is going to be a major topic of discussion and revision. This is a welcome development.

We’re both inspired by people like Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker who had the vision to create something real and of immeasurable value by believing in people and the power of connections, and who took that vision and brought it to life with conviction. We believe that well-established leaders, emerging influencers, and all who follow them have much to contribute to the conversation. Feel free to join us on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. (Eastern time), using a tool like TweetChat or the Twitter client of your choice!

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Steve Woodruff is the world's only Clarity Therapist. He connects people with their purpose, their message, and with other people in order to create new business opportunities. He writes at the

Steve is an unusual hybrid of conceptualizer, strategist, marketer, analyst, wordsmith, semi-techie, and all-around decent fellow, except when there's bad coffee or lousy wine.

Steve can also be found on Twitter, LinkedIn.

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  • by Steven Tue Oct 19, 2010 via blog

    Very interesting. So this whole conversation takes place on twitter using hashtags? That doesn't annoy followers who aren't participating?

  • by Steve Woodruff Tue Oct 19, 2010 via blog

    Steven, we often "warn" our followers that there will be a flood of tweets during such an event. People understand. Sometimes folks set up a separate account for events (I use my @impactiviti twitter account to tweet pharma conferences, for instance) just so that the "main" account isn't swamped!

  • by Kristof Tue Oct 19, 2010 via blog

    This was a great chat (congrats) and look forward to more. TweetChat is a nice app to use (multiple columns in TweetDeck can work too) but, considering the great articles people were posting as reference, I used It's also nice that I can export the chat to PDF.

  • by amodgrl Wed Oct 20, 2010 via blog

    If you are using a Tweet Wall during a conference to display Tweets tied to event hashtag check out
    a visualisation of Twitter messages designed for display in public spaces. We used for last event and it was a big hit.

  • by Amanda Thu Oct 21, 2010 via blog

    Hello, I am very intrigued by the concept of twitter chats. I am a public relations student right now and beginning to establih my voice in social media. I think that what you are describing is a great 'next step' for students to take. Social media offers so many opportunities to network, and students can benefit greatly from learning about that now. Thank you for describing TweetChats here. I look forward to learning more about them and hopefully participating soon. Your post was helpful in drawing them to my attention (as I am somewhat new in using social media). Thanks again!

  • by Marc Meyer Tue Oct 26, 2010 via blog

    Steve and Lisa, great idea and great spin on a topic that should always remain popular and front of mind for all those who attend. I look forward to attending and will certainly spread the word. Congrats!

  • by Steve Woodruff Tue Oct 26, 2010 via blog

    Thanks so much, Marc!

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