Today we have a guest post from Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Bryan runs #SFFWRTCHT (Sci-Fi writer chat), a weekly twitter chat that interviews science fiction and fantasy authors. He blogs about the event's origins here, and today, he shares some tips about how to run social media events.
In late October 2010 at World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio, I found inspiration for utilizing social media and my past experience in entertainment and journalism to bring authors together to discuss and learn about the craft and business of writing Science Fiction and Fantasy. Knowing I wouldn’t likely attend many conventions the following year, for budget reasons, I decided to bring the panel to us and created SFFWRTCHT, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat. My little idea grew within months to a major platform and has cemented my reputation and network in the industry, leading to opportunities I had only dreamed of. So Livia asked me to blog a bit about how to do a social media event, and I offer the following tips.
1. Manage Social Media Events Like A Professional – Whether your intent is a casual setting or a formal one, run your event as professionally as possible. This means start early with planning and get organized. Promote it well and enlist the help of others in doing so. When it’s occurring, be professional in keeping things flowing as much as possible. Keep people on topic, avoid trolling, and generally steer things by using your comments to redirect discussions and set the right tone. For #sffwrtcht, I write out all my 140 character questions in advance. It saves stress and time during the fast moving chat, allows me to send them to guests if requested, and enables me to adlib follow up questions and interactions with guest and attendees during the live event without having to stress about questions.
2. Do Your Research – Others are doing Social Media events. Study up. Lurking is an acceptable SM past time, so use it to watch what others are doing and how they do it. Especially look for events similar to your own in theme and/or approach. Make notes if necessary. It’s always good to learn from what works and what doesn’t by observing it in action before you take it on yourself. Also, don’t be afraid to find out what people enjoy and want by asking those you know or even those you don’t. The SM community is usually more than happy to engage about such things and good research helps you hone your event for greater success. Additionally, research the guest, their work, etc. The more knowledgeable you are, the better your event will be.
3. Community Is Key – Being organized and professional should not prevent you from sticking to the core draw of Social Media: community. It’s called “social” for a reason. Don’t be too stuck on your plans or too rigid in your expectations. Be prepared to take charge and guide things when needed but be flexible to accept if they unfold differently. I started the chat like a TV interview with me asking most of the questions. I found that people were more interested if they could participate, so I made the change. I still ask most of the questions but others get involved and interest has really grown. It’s also a lot more fun for everyone, including the guests.
4. Promote Early And Widely – Don’t just promote your Facebook event on Facebook, make use of every outlet you can find from other Social Media outlets like Twitter to blogs and more. The more interest you generate, the more fun the event tends to be for everyone. And it’s never too soon to get the word out. Just be sure you don’t overdo it. Obnoxious publicity is worse than none at all. Here’s a few tips I offer on Promoting With Social Media. Still, to be successful, people do need to know about your event so start early and promote as many places as you can.
5. Prepare Guests – Part of being organized and professional is making sure your event guests are also prepared. The more relaxed they are, the better your event will be. They will also enjoy it more. If you’re doing an interview, offer to send questions in advance. Make sure they understand the format. Accommodate special requests when possible. Be warm and inviting and help them feel at ease. All of this will make your event shine and go smoothly.
6. Rest Up – Try and plan your event at a time when you can be relaxed and ready. Build some time prior to the event into your schedule to review notes, research, and even just relax quietly so that when the event starts, and things get crazy quick, you’re at your best. Especially with live events, things move rapidly and it can be hard to keep up. It’s even worse when you’re already tired or stressed. So don’t set yourself up. Rest Up and prepare.
7. Network, Network, Network – Social Media are the best networking tools invented and part of your success depends on your network. You need others to help spread the word, to attend your event and to help point you to potential topics, guests and research. Start early with this and when the time comes, you’ll have built in resources. Promote other people and they’ll promote you. Spread the word about their events, and they’ll spread the word about yours, often without you needing to ask. Some of the best PR I get for chat and my book has been from people who took it upon themselves to help me just because I helped them in the past. Being a good Social Media citizen is key to your success in every aspect of your Social Media activities.
Well, there’s a few tips to get you started if you’re considering a Social Media event. There’s plenty more. Perhaps you can suggest some in comments. Livia and I would love to hear from you. If you’re interested in learning from Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat, we have a blog here or you can search the #sffwrtcht hashtag on Twitter. Thanks for reading. And best of luck with your events!
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog. 1 5-star & 5 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindle
or Nook $14.99 tpb