Page 1

A Guide to Running a Twitter Q&A (in the public sector)

Disclaimer The following guide is not intended to cover every possible eventuality of a Twitter Q&A, its impact on you, your organisation or participants. The information discussed here is generic and not meant to cover specific case-by-case examples. Your conduct online remains the responsibility of yourself and your organisation.

Creative commons copyright Copyright (c) 2012 by Alex Talbott. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit


Content Introduction What is a Twitter Q&A? Should I run a Twitter Q&A? How much does a Twitter Q&A cost? Running a Twitter Q&A  Sell in internally  Planning o The topic o Timings o Hashtags o Useful web links  Promotion o Sell-in externally  Hardware o Laptops o Big screen o AVI cable o Food and water  Websites (tools of the trade) o Tweetdeck o Twitter o Tweetchat o Storify  People

Collateral  Evaluation o Tweetreach o Socialmention o Topsy  Mitigating risks and issues

Appendices  Aim, strategy, objectives and tactics sheet  Promoting a Twitter Q&A  Checklist for a Twitter Q&A 3

Introduction Interviews with powerful and/or famous people have always attracted audiences. Sometimes large - think Parkinson’s chat show back in the day, sometimes small - say an interview with a local football club manager. These interviews used to be the only way to get in-depth insight into the life and thoughts of high profile people. With one man or woman in charge of the questions, there was no way you could try and get your question asked. Social media has completely changed this. The invention of the Twitter interview, or Q&A session, has given everyone the opportunity to ask high profile people questions. You no longer need to sit and hope Parkinson asks the one question you would like an answer to; just ask it yourself. Most importantly there is no filter; there is no mediator between the questioner and the questioned. Twitter Q&As give us all direct access to the life and thoughts of interesting people. In the public sector Twitter Q&As build trust by enabling members of the public to engage with public sector leaders who have so often remained anonymous in the past. This guide is aimed at anyone who is thinking of setting up a Twitter Q&A for the interesting person(s) they work for. While it is written from a public sector perspective it also contains generic lessons that will are relevant to the third and private sectors too. The guide covers what is needed to prepare and execute a Twitter Q&A with a level of professionalism which will leave the audience and interviewee in no doubt of the value of such sessions.


What is a Twitter Q&A? Twitter (see Box 1) allows users to send 140 character ‘tweets’ or messages. Anyone can read these tweets and anyone can reply to them. A Twitter Q&A uses this accessibility and the hashtag functionality on Twitter to create an online conversation. The use of a hashtag, for example #twitterguide, enables all tweets tagged with it to be pulled together into a real-time list – making a conversation possible.

What is Twitter? Twitter is a microblogging site. It allows anyone to publically publish short messages of up to 140 characters. The service requires registration using an email address but is free to use. Once a user has a Twitter account they can begin following other Twitter accounts. By following other Twitter accounts you can begin to create a real-time feed of new tweets. For example, If you follow a lot of NHS organisations your feed will be full of healthcare related information.

An exchange of question and answer is shown below. Note the use of the hashtag in each tweet. We’ll come onto how to collate all of these tweets together when we discuss software options on page 16.

Who takes part in a Twitter Q&A? Twitter Q&As work best when the public or a specific interest group are given access to a high profile person. For example the #askboris hashtag is used to enable the public to ask Mayor of London Boris Johnson questions on Twitter once a month. The people who take part in a Twitter Q&A depend entirely on the person being asked the questions. Members of the public, MPs, journalists, people representing interest groups or businesses could all join in. As I’ll cover in the planning section it is very important to ensure your target audience know the Q&A will be taking place.


Should I run a Twitter Q&A? There is no point running a Twitter Q&A if it isn’t going to achieve a stated objective. Twitter Q&As consume some of your finite time at work. Ask yourself, “Will running a Twitter Q&A help me achieve an organisation objective faster and better than anything else?” If the answer is no, don’t run one at this time. If the answer is yes check it by using the aim, strategy, objectives and tactics sheet in Appendix A. What objectives are you fulfilling with a Twitter Q&A? How will you ensure those objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound (SMART)? As anyone who has had the privilege of hearing Professor Michael West speak on the subject will know, ensuring the organisation, teams and individuals have clear objectives is a huge determinant in delivering quality healthcare. This extends to the communications function.

Organisation objective

Team objective

Individual objective

Organisation objective = Improve community diabetes services by seeking the views of service users, carers and the public throughout the year. Communications team objective = In partnership with the service, develop and deliver five engagement events on the improvement of the community diabetes service, by March 2013. Individual objective = By March 2013 develop and deliver an online engagement event for community diabetes service users. 6

How much does a Twitter Q&A cost? Technically a Twitter Q&A is free in monetary terms. The online services used throughout the planning, promotion, delivery and evaluation of the project are all free to join and use. However, great care should be taken in understanding how much time (and therefore percentage of your salary) a Twitter Q&A costs. I’ve termed this ‘capacity costs’. While the Twitter Q&A may only last for an hour the amount of work it takes to plan, promote and report back on a Twitter Q&A is can be as much as 20 hours. That’s just under three working days. This doesn’t take into account any selling in needed to get senior managers and your interviewee on board. So a good estimate of how long a Twitter Q&A will take out of your working week is three days but add another day on if you’ll have to sell in the idea either verbally or by writing a paper. Of course all this assumes you have access to a laptop that can handle the processing required during a fast paced Q&A and can display the websites needed to be successful. If you haven’t you’ll have to either buy one or use your personal laptop in work. Hint: Google Chrome has a clever way of circumnavigating installation blocking controls. As I’ll cover later websites such as Storify cannot be displayed on Internet Explorer 8 so you’ll need to either update to Internet Explorer 9+ or download an alternative browser.


Running a Twitter Q&A Sell in internally Throughout the traditional media social media is getting good coverage, the thrills and spills of Twitter in particular are across the tabloids, broadsheets, back pages and broadcast news. This will have helped raise awareness amongst senior people of what Twitter is and can do. However always start from an assumed position of ignorance. This allows you and the senior team to grow your understanding of social media together, empowering them to think social media use through themselves. Pick your interviewee wisely. Your Chief Executive may be interested in participating in a Q&A but if they are unlikely to be able to cope with cutting down answers to complex questions to less than 140 characters quickly, they are not the right person. If the Director of Estates is likely to be better at it pick a topic that will suit them and their audience instead. Remember the main attraction to a Twitter Q&A for the potential audience is two-fold:  A chance to talk about a topic they are interested in  A chance to ask questions of someone powerful/famous/interesting/topical/all four that they would not normally be able to ask questions of. To run a Twitter Q&A without either would more than likely lead to a slow session. To get a powerful/famous/interesting/topical person to participate often requires selling the idea to them and their advisors. This is a chance for the communications team to show their worth and gain access to the leaders of the organisation (leaders and senior people are more likely to be powerful/famous/interesting/topical). Particular things to bear in mind when selling the idea in are:  Stay away from jargon – introduce jargon clearly it if you need to use it  Allow people to ask questions, and have potential answers prepared  Highlight the potential positives and negatives  Show how you can mitigate potential risks. At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs I will also say this; think about the approach you will take to selling in the idea to your senior managers. Do they like to be approached off the cuff? Will they want a paper first before any meeting? Will they want to try Twitter out for themselves? Can you help them Tweet? What personal interests do they have that Twitter is well suited to give them information about, e.g. following local or national sportsmen and women. 8

Here are two great perspectives from NHS Chief Executives which may help you sell in a Twitter Q&A:  @DrMarkNewbold (CEO at Heart of England NHS FT): Ten reasons why NHS CEOs should use twitter!  @lisasaysthis (CEO at Sussex Partnership NHS FT): Social media for NHS dummies

Planning Planning lays the foundations for the success of the Q&A. By carefully considering your topic and timing you can go a long way to ensuring you’ll have an engaged audience for the Q&A. We’ll deal more with engaging the audience in the promotion section on page 12.

The Topic The topic shouldn’t be too prescriptive so not to scare potential questioners away. It should give the person answering the questions confidence that they know the subject matter. If the CEO is going to answer questions then the topic could be really broad, “The future of hospital XYZ”. If it’s the Director of Estates the topic would have to be narrower, “Find out how we’re redeveloping hospital xyz” (be prepared for PFI questions!). Naming your topic gives you a legitimate way of steering the discussion. If someone asks questions outside of the topic area you can direct them to an email address and move on to the next topic-relevant question. How to deal with these types of questions is considered in the mitigating risks and issues section. A great topic will have all three of the below:




Great topic 9

Do your homework when choosing a topic. Think of a topic and then see if there is an active community online which you could target at the promotion stage. There’s no point in having a great topic if the target audience isn’t online to ask the questions (save that topic and engage offline instead). You may have some changes to maternity units coming up in your area. Is there a pressure group or parents group that already has an active online profile? Doing some homework on the groups and individuals within them will also help you mitigate the risks and issues later on.

Timing When the Twitter Q&A runs has a potentially large affect on its success. Knowing your audience is critical here. When are they likely to be able to participate? If they can’t make the live Q&A can they submit questions before hand? Remember you’ll have to time the Q&A so that where possible any follow up answers or unanswered (topic relevant) questions can sorted out that day. So a 16:00-17:00 chat probably isn’t the best timing. Alternatively you can manage expectations and state in your promotional material that if the Q&A gets really busy unanswered questions will stay unanswered. For similar reasons a Friday or Monday aren’t good ideas either. A Friday means you’ll have no working time buffer to complete any feedback and ensures that the excitement of a Twitter Q&A will have dissipated come Monday. A Monday means you’ve got to have a really engaged audience to remember the Twitter Q&A is on come the start of the week. With more and more people owning a smartphone the lunchtime slot (between 12:00 and 14:00) is a good time to hold a Q&A as even if relevant audiences are not able to access social media at work (e.g. NHS staff) they can via their phone at lunchtime. There are a host of online tools that you can use to help you find out when is the best time to tweet. They look at when your tweets get retweeted the most and when your followers and the people you follow are most active on Twitter. Some of these are free. There is a good list of the different ‘when is the best time to tweet’ services available on Quora, the question and answer website. The service I have used in the past is Tweriod analyses up to 1,000 of your followers for free to give you the best time to tweet (i.e. when your followers are most active) during the week and weekends. It’s useful to know when planning your general Twitter use as well as for planning Twitter Q&As. 10

Five hours after you have finished the Q&A you should aim to have:  Published a Storify on the highlights of the Q&A. Embed this on your website if you can  Reported back to the person who answered the questions on the headline stats – number of questions answered, TweetReach (see page 19), subsequent media stories etc  Reported to the senior management team on the success or otherwise of the Q&A against the agreed objectives  Followed up any unanswered questions  Eaten.

Hashtags Using the ‘#’ symbol to tag a word creates a hashtag. For example, #twitter, #nhs and #nhssm are all hashtags. Including a hashtag in a tweet enables it to be grouped with all other tweets that include the same hashtag – thus pulling a conversation together. When choosing your hashtag things to consider are:  Hashtags can’t include spaces, non-alphabetic or numeric characters, e.g. no !’s, ?’s or &’s and +’s  Is it short enough? The hashtag is part of your 140 characters so a 15 character hashtag will leave you with only 124 character to write with (including a space for before the hashtag)  Is anyone else using your hashtag? Do a Twitter search for it before you publicise it  Does your hashtag spell out something else? Some of the largest Twitter fails have been because a promotional hashtag spelt something entirely different (and often rude) when the spaces were taken out of the phrase – see Susan Album Party for one example!


Useful web links In the planning stage it is well worth going through any potential links you may want to share as part of answers or use to direct to further details during the Q&A. This will save time during the Q&A. Twitter management software such as Tweetdeck auto-shortens URLs over 20 characters long and allow you to link to a account so you can track clickthroughs.

Promotion There is no Twitter Q&A without an audience to ask the questions. By now you’ll have sold in the idea internally so if the Q&A is deadly quiet the interviewee will not see the value of social media to the organisation and a chance is lost. If you’ve ensured you have a great topic (something topical, contentious and understandable) and nail the promotion you’ll bring together a good audience and be able to demonstrate the value of social media. Of course by now you’ll have an understanding of what audiences are out there for your topic. It may be that it is anyone and everyone, that’s fine. If the topic is great and broad and the interviewee high profile enough you’re guaranteed an audience. Nevertheless promotion will still be important. If your topic is narrow, e.g. just on maternity service reforms you’ll have a duty to ensure the relevant groups and people know when and how the chat will be running. Google is the best place to start your research into who is already talking about your topic. Search for blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, pages and groups and look through any comments left on news articles online. Promotion starts two weeks before the Twitter Q&A. That gives you nine working days to promote it and one in which to run it. Things moves fast online and starting before two weeks can mean the Twitter Q&A date, time and topic is forgotten long before it is run. Appendix B is a basic breakdown of to how to promote a Twitter Q&A online.

Sell-in externally Along with the obvious tweets about the Q&A there is a lot you can do to promote it. Contact your local influencers (online, offline, or both) and get them onboard. Your local paper may well run a short article promoting the chat as a way for its readers to engage with the hospital. If you’ve a good relationship with your local paper they may well even partner you on the event and promote it heavily across their on- and offline channels. The Guardian Healthcare Network and HSJ 12

are also well worth approaching. They both run live blogs Monday to Friday on what is happening in healthcare and will often promote Twitter Q&As on them. Ensure you MP and local councillors know about it. They are likely to be active online and can help potential question askers find out about the Q&A. Remember a Twitter Q&A isn’t about controlling the message, it is about showing the organisation and individuals involved to be open and transparent. It gives people somewhere to get the correct information first hand and find out how they can learn more about the topic. Finally, contact any close-by NHS organisations that may have a part to play, e.g. on regional service reform topics, and see if they can help you promote it. Just a retweet can do wonders.

Hardware Clearly you’ll achieve nothing without the right hardware to enable you to setup, promote and deliver the Q&A. Here’s a quick look at what you’ll need.

Laptops Plural. You’ll need more than one laptop I would recommend three laptops. You’ll see why later. They should be able to connect to the internet and have an up-to-date browser on them which can handle,, and Test them all before the big day to avoid any mistakes! You may need to get those websites put on the white list by IT. If your interviewee is senior enough that shouldn’t be a problem.

Big screens and AVI cables If you can only get one big screen so be it but two screens are always better. Linking two laptops to one screen each will enable two people to work independently from each other and highlight which question is next to be answered. It also allows the tweet and the Twitter account it came from to be viewed at the same time, extremely useful when gauging the response required.

Food and water Twitter Q&As are draining. You concentrate hard for an hour, typing and thinking fast. Do not under estimate how much energy you need for that hour. You can be answering upward of 80 questions (the big Twitter Q&As like #askboris have far more, but those questions don’t all get answered). Make sure you have the interviewee’s favourite drink and snack in the room for the start of the Q&A. It’ll not only put them at ease but also help you bond with them. Have something you’d like to eat and drink too. 13

After the end of the Q&A it is a good idea to go and get some food. You’ll have reports to write and more questions to answer for the rest of the day.

Websites (tools of the trade) Once you’ve your hardware set the next thing you’ll need to do is familiarise yourself with the websites you’ll be using. An excellent Twitter management tool. TweetDeck allows you to pull tweets into columns. For example one column may be a search for the hashtag you are using; another could contain mentions of your Twitter handle. The below is a screen shot of the web based TweetDeck platform.

You can also download TweetDeck from but you may have to get an IT administrator to download it for you. If you don’t want the more immersive TweetDeck experience you can use Useful during a Twitter Q&A as it lets you see all mentions of your Twitter handle. Sometimes people will tweet a question or response without the hashtag, they can get very annoyed that they’re not being listened to despite their mistake. Keeping an eye on the interactions page for your account will flag up anyone not using the hashtag. This website pulls all tweets with the hashtag into one place and enables you to easily sift through them with its smart pause function. It is very handy indeed.


Using undoubtedly speeds up response time. This is because it pares Twitter down to just a stream of messages containing the hashtag. Displaying (for most of the time) on the big screens is your best option to get your interviewee through the questions as quick as possible. Tweetchat also automatically includes the hashtag in your tweets ensuring you never forget to use it. The website of choice when collecting tweets together into a narrative report. Storify enables you to drag and drop tweets into a linear narrative of the Q&A. Often tweets will be answered minutes later, during which time more tweets have come in. This leads to a jumbled timeline of tweets on the hashtag, not a neat and tidy question, answer, question, answer format. Storify can clear all this up. Be careful not to make a Storify too long. Pages and pages of tweets and narrative will lead to fewer people reading the whole thing try to get a feel for the Q&A when making a Storify. Create a highlights reel. You can always make another Storify with all the tweets from the Q&A and link to that at the end of the highlights Storify.


Importantly Storify also enables you to get an embed code of the storifies you produce, making it easy to transfer the tweets to your website and promote the outputs form the Q&A far wider than just Twitter. Storify also automatically will prompt you to tweet those people quoted in the storify narrative which often leads to retweets and subsequent promotion. Remember to tell your influencers about the storify even if they aren’t quoted in it.

People I’ve covered the considerations you’ll need when finding the right person to answer questions on a Twitter Q&A. Here I take a look at the types of people behind the scenes who make a Twitter Q&A a success. There are three of them: The tweeter x 2: These two roles are the workhorses of the Q&A. Their job is to ensure questions are logged and answered in chronological order. They control the laptops which are connected to the big screens. They need to work together to get the right information up on the screen at the right time for the interviewee. They should be able to quickly navigate the social web to find out more about the background of people who ask questions and use that evidence to help form an answer.


The interviewee passes them a sheet of paper with the answer to the question written on it; they type it up and make sure it fits the 140 characters (including the hashtag). The paper takes out the need for the interviewee to have a detailed knowledge of Twitter or the ability to type quickly. The aim is always to keep the Q&A as succinct as possible so the tweeters need to be able to edit an answer down to one tweet. If an answer needs more than one tweet use the denotation 1/2 (one of two) at the beginning of the first tweet and 2/2 (two of two) at the beginning of the second. The internal influencer: Questions can come thick and fast and from various sources. Some people will have agendas and many won’t. The role of the internal influencer during the Twitter Q&A is to ensure that the answers the tweeters receive from the interviewee have been sense checked against the news agenda, local events and local knowledge. They should have an understanding of any vexatious complainers the organisation knows of and a good grounding in the agenda of the online influencers researched at the planning stage. As the internal influencer has to help craft the answers they must have a good working relationship with the interviewee and be able to say no to them. Even if it is the CEO this role must be able to advise and guide them quickly in a frantic setting. A schematic of a possible room set up is below. The 1’s are the tweeters, 3 is the interviewee and 2 is the internal influencer. The green bits are paper, the black line a pen, the black rectangles laptops and the arrows AVI cables to the TVs.


Collateral Make sure you make best use of the interviewees time before, during and after the Q&A. If they are powerful/famous/interesting/topical/all four then get them on camera as well as answering questions. For example, film and tweet a short (30 seconds) video of their hopes for the Q&A before it begins. Then tweet a picture of them in front of a laptop to show they are really there. Finally get a round-up 30-40 seconds from them on film at the end of the Q&A. What did they get from the Q&A? What follow up actions will they commit to? This collateral can be used to really add personality to the Q&A. Remember the video doesn’t have to be broadcast quality. A mobile phone camera is good enough to get the quality you need. If the BBC can broadcast grainy Skype calls on their news channel you can use a phone camera or Flipcam.

Evaluation Have a look back at the ‘Should I run a Twitter Q&A’ section and remind yourself of the need to set SMART objectives for the Twitter Q&A. Answer the question, “How is a Twitter Q&A going to help me achieve the objectives of the organisation, team and individual?” The answer to this is the foundation of subsequent evaluation. Social media has been lauded within the communications professional as finally delivering something that is measurable. Gone are the days of advertising value equivalent (AVE), social media gives you figures and graphs, sentiment analysis and hard numbers. There are many ways in which you can measure your work on social media, and I’ll briefly go through a few free services here, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking outputs are outcomes. Aim to measure engagement not just outputs. Measurement of social media continues to be a thorn in our sides. There is a need to look at it with some common sense with the knowledge that human interactions are not based on easy, definable, linear transactions. Emer Coleman, Deputy Director Digital Engagement Government Digital Services/Cabinet Office has blogged on this and I’ll leave it to her erudite points to persuade you: Social media – Must we measure? The following are three free services that can form the basis of your evaluation of outputs, and in some cases outcomes. Tweetreach analyses the last 50 tweets on a hashtag to see how many impressions that hashtag has had on Twitter and how many accounts that 18

hashtag has been potentially been seen by. You can export the report in Excel and PDF format. There is a paid for version which will analyse more tweets.

Tweetreach helps give you the core stats of your Twitter Q&A. It gives headline figures that are high due to the very nature of Twitter. For example, one tweet which is retweeted (RT) three times by three people with 1,000 followers each has potentially been seen by 3,000 + [the number of your followers]. That is a nice figure, but remember it is all just potential numbers. People may not have been looking at their Twitter feed at that time. It is therefore important to remember to try to get a feel for the level of engagement with the Q&A. How many questions were asked and by how many people? How many RTs did you and other participants get? These small social actions prove people where engaged enough to take the time to join in and interact. Topsy offers a mix of both output graphs and search results from across social media platforms.


The TopsyPro option gives you unlimited search terms, multiyear historical data, sentiment analysis, geography & more. There is a handy free trial which you could take advantage of for your first Twitter Q&A. While tweetreach gives you a good feel for how widely shared your hashtag was it doesn’t tell you whether that sharing was positive or negative in sentiment. Socialmention takes it that one step further and gives you a positive:neutral:negative sentiment ratio. Socialmention also gives you a percentage of strength, reach and passion for your hashtag. If you have many people using the hashtag your passion may be low, as they may only use it once or twice. However many people using the hashtag is no bad thing so be careful how seriously you take these type of measurements. Hover over each measurement to find out how socialmention calculates them.


Mitigating risks and issues Here’s a general list of the types of risks and issues you may come across when planning and running a Twitter Q&A and how to mitigate them. One Twitter account tries to take over the Q&A If one Twitter account tries to take over the Q&A, usually by tweeting a question, getting the answer and immediately tweeting a follow-up question, you can direct them to an email address to which they can direct further questions. Setting the ground rules for the Q&A, best done with a link to a webpage, also will help you manage expectations. For example you might include a line such as, “While we will endeavour to answer all questions asked within the [duration of Q&A] we may answer some of your questions after the Q&A to ensure we get back to as many individuals as possible within the timeframe.” A vexatious complainer uses the Q&A to complain Many public sector organisations will have a number of vexatious complainers that are known to them. These individuals have often gone through every complaints process possible and despite this continue to complain. They will often have a single issue they want to raise. If a vexatious complainer enters the Q&A off topic you can rebut them by asking them to email the designated address as their query if off topic for the Q&A. Remember other members of the audience will also understand that the vexatious complainer has picked the wrong channel so don’t shy away from a strong response. An account hijacks your hashtag Similar to the last two issues this is where an account or more than one account uses your hashtag to post tweets which are obscene/aggressive/threatening/promoting products/promoting malicious links etc. If it is only one to a few accounts doing this ignore them, they will most likely go away in time. But remember not to dismiss someone who looks like they are trying to hijack the hashtag with someone who has an honest complaint or perspective to air. If you have many people hijacking the hashtag to promote potentially malicious links well done, you are probably trending and the annoying hijacking accounts are spambots. Tweet the real people who are involved in the chat to remind them not to click on any of the links.


A journalist asks a very detailed time consuming question Once again make sure there is a line on this in your expectation setting webpage. The journalist may just be using the Q&A as an easy way to lodge a complex question instead of going through the usual channels. Reply by saying that you can’t get the answer in the next five minutes but will follow up with them after the Q&A. Direct them to the press team’s email address. There are no questions coming in If this occurs you probably haven’t got the foundations of the Q&A right. Have you got a great topic and high profile enough interviewee? To deal with it on the day make sure you have a few staff accounts lined up to ask questions just in case.

Someone uses abusive or foul language during the Q&A Respond by stating that you will not speak to them if they continue to use that language. Twitter crashes before or during the Q&A There is nothing you can do about it and the audience will be affected by the same thing. Set up the Q&A for another time. Your interviewee has to pull out of the Q&A Unfortunate, but it can happen for justifiable reasons. Apologise, give a reason why and state you’ll set up another time for the Q&A, perhaps one week later. There are just too many questions to answer Tweet that this is the case during the chat and make a decision on the day as to whether you have enough capacity to answer everyone. There may be duplicate questions which will make your life easier. You may want to direct all participants to an FAQ or further information webpage you have on the topic.


Appendices Appendix A – Aim, SMART objectives, strategy and tactics Aim (The overarching reason for the communication programme)

SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely steps that benchmark your progress): 1.



Strategy (The general approach taken to achieve your objectives):

Tactics (The specific methods used to achieve the strategy):


Appendix B – Promoting a Twitter Q&A Working days before

Promotional activity

Target audience

Tweet the date, time and hashtag for the first time.

General, staff and targeted influencers. For example, your local maternity reform pressure group, MP, councillors or the local paper(s).

Link to a webpage setting out the topic in full with instructions on how to join in the Q&A. 9

Target people who are influential online may mentioning them on Twitter. Place a short update in your news section.





4 3 2 1


Promote internally via staff newsletters, emails and meetings. More tweets. Include links to any prereading you’d like your audience to consider Suggest possible questions. For example, “Would you like to know what will happen to maternity services here in the next year? Join in our Twitter Q&A 00:00 on 00/00 #hashtag”. Link to webpage setting out the topic. None Promote internally via staff newsletters and meetings. Link in with any other online channels. For example a Facebook page or pressure groups blog/Facebook page. Suggest possible questions. Link to webpage setting out the topic. None “Two days before our Twitter Q&A with X on Y... #hashtag” Tweet influencers once again asking for a RT. Link to webpage setting out the topic. Lots of general tweeting from the off to ensure you capture as many people on the day as possible.

General. General.

General, staff and targeted influencers.


General. Targeted influencers. General.

For example, “Just one hour to go before XXX is up on Twitter to answer your questions on changes to maternity services”. 24

Appendix C – Checklist for a Twitter Q&A Deciding to run a Twitter Q&A

Set SMART objectives The right interviewee A great topic The right time A good hashtag

□ □ □ □ □

Promoting your Q&A

Identify online influencers Connect the on- and offline worlds (face-to-face or phone call) Discuss possible partnerships with pressure groups or local paper Schedule your tweets for the two week promotional period Promote to staff through internal channels Laptops – check website compatibility Big screens AVI cables Food and drink Learn to use them Learn the definitions of the metrics and how they are measured Tweeters who can easily navigate the social web Tweeters who can edit an answer into 140 characters An internal influencer who can say no to the interviewee An internal influencer who knows the local media and political context Promote heavily before the start Tweet a picture of the interviewee with laptop Remind people throughout the Q&A to include the hashtag Follow up any unanswered questions Write the initial report (see evaluation) Go back to your SMART objectives and evaluate form there Concentrate on the level of engagement not just outputs Use the report to educate staff about social media Publish a public version of the report for others to see and learn from




On the day


□ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ 25


A Guide to Running a Twitter Q&A (in the public sector)  

This guide is aimed at anyone who is thinking of setting up a Twitter Q&A for the interesting person(s) they work for. While it is written f...