“Hello? Is anybody out there…?” How to avoid Twitter tumbleweed

This blog was posted by Selma Willcocks on September 21, 2015 as part of the CultureHive Digital Marketing Academy. You can find out more about the project here.

I recently delved into the world of Twitter conversations. I’ve launched events/funding programmes/festivals online like there’s no tomorrow, but there’s extra pressure when there’s something you think is important to discuss and well, other people might just not care…

Here’s some things I learnt when I orchestrated the Twiscussion (because ‘tweet’ and ‘chat’ would be unfortunate) for The Barometer of My Heart – Mark Storor’s latest work investigating masculinity (which is on now).

I asked the Twittersphere: What is it to be a man today? Asking for responses including #BOMH.


buzzfeedquestion copy1. Ask an interesting question.

Here are some terribly boring questions courtesy of Buzzfeed. My favourite one has to be BBC Wiltshire with ‘Do you have a paperweight? What form does it take? Designed for purpose or something heavy you just happen to use?’ Although having said that they had 31 RTs so maybe there’s something in having a REALLY uninteresting question.

When researching on issues of masculinity I discovered heaps of people were already talking about it from lifestyle to news and of course the arts. My faith in my question ticking the ‘interesting’ box grew exponentially.



2. Don’t let ticket sales be your objective.

Because people can see through that. Have a conversation because the conversation is important. I mean, with time/capacity thin on the ground you’re always hoping that it can slide in as a secondary knock-on objective, but try not to get too click-baity.

The company, artists, performers, us at Artsadmin, the funders and partners all believe that this is an important issue in and of itself (which is why the work is being made in the first place!)



3. Get priming.

Get out your black book and get emailing. Prime as many people as you can, because only a fraction will get involved. From looking at our Twitter analytics each month I can say that usually our top mention is from a fellow arts org – these reciprocals definitely work.

Movember were already primed ahead of the conversation, along with several colleagues from across the sector.



4. Use tools.

My mentor Daniel Rowles flagged up Klout for me – which was a great way to identify influencers in our chosen topic. I’m sure there are many other great ways to push conversations, although I decided against Thunderclap because it didn’t lend itself for conversation. If I’d had more time I would have set up search columns on my Tweetdeck and dug around through some lists too.





5. Direct traffic.

I found it useful to make a blog which detailed a bit about the conversation, plus I added some links out to other people talking about similar things. Links in and links out (plus an already-strong SEO) made us a couple off top of Google for ‘What is it to be a man today?’

I ummed and ahhed about Twitter ads and in the end half-heartedly released some into the ether garnering next to no impact. As for directing people to the conversation from other channels – well the Facebook algorithm hates it if you mention Twitter, but Daniel did have a great idea around Instagram content leading people through to the discussion, which I will definitely build time in to do next time.


successmeasures6. Measure & collate.

I used Tweetreach to measure how far the hashtag went – 230,430 accounts reached apparently – but it’s a bit tricky when so many didn’t use it. I then collated the conversation in a Storify for completedness but also so that everyone gets a bit of a pat on the back (and nudge) for being a part of it.

Orchestrating my first Twitter conversation was a steep learning curve, but luckily the content itself was inherently interesting, which is the beauty of working in the arts – more often than not we’re talking about great stuff. The responses ranged from sarcastic to philosophical and even some who rejected the question all together – which was great. Plenty of food for thought.


Fingers crossed for a future without Twitter tumbleweed!

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