Joining a conversation on twitter

Jamie Woolley shares learning from Greenpeace UK's experience joining in online discussions of UK TV programmes.

Twitter is becoming a way for people to discuss programmes as they're broadcast, and broadcasters on both sides of the Atlantic are tapping into it. As you'll have seen – many shows broadcast a suggested hashtag for viewers to use to share comments and thoughts.

At Greenpeace, we've done a small amount of live tweeting during TV shows to join in the discussions happening on social media and hopefully capitalise in a small way on interest generated by the show.

Make sure it's relevant

It's worth choosing the programmes or events you want to jump on with some care - not just to avoid the appearance of bandwagon jumping but also to keep it novel and fresh for your followers.

The shows we've chosen have all been relevant to our key campaign topics - such as Channel 4's Fish Fight and the BBC's Frozen Planet and that's vital in making it worthwhile. Forcing a campaign message into a discussion that isn't relevant is going to turn more people off than it attracts, and will be blatantly opportunistic, like jumping on an irrelevant trending topic. (Ok, it's opportunistic anyway!)

You can see a selection of our tweets in this #frozenplanet Storify.

Bring something to the conversation

We've learnt to avoid having campaign messages or links in every message. Instead, talk about what's going on on-screen, respond to comments made by others, be part of the audience. Humour works well, and links to related content can also be well received - links to Greenpeace images from the Arctic went down very well during Frozen Planet. Perhaps leave your campaign ask until the end of the programme - 'if this has made you think, why not do something about it?'

For Frozen Planet we were lucky enough to have two activists involved who had just returned from an expedition to the Arctic. This meant they had fresh information to contribute, and could tweet with real authority.

Make sure you're well-resourced

It's surprisingly difficult to watch TV and maintain a Twitter presence at the same time. You don't really get to see much of the show, so it might be an idea to watch with someone else who can fill you in on the bits you miss.

Plan ahead

Lining up a few messages or links to push out is very useful, so you're not scrabbling around for them during the live tweeting. It also gives you more space to think about what would be most useful or popular.

Getting in early is also a good tactic. Just before the final episode of Frozen Planet, we posted "We <3 #FrozenPlanet (and Sir David Attenborough) RT if you agree" which got over 400 retweets, placing it in the top tweets for the hashtag and making Greenpeace a prominent voice in the discussion. Cheesy, but it worked.

Think about records

Twitter is ephemeral by nature, but if you want to keep some information about what you've done, for internal reports for example, you might want to use a service like Storify to allow you to take note of the highlights.

Jamie Woolley is Web Producer at Greenpeace UK.

by Jamie Woolley published Dec 12, 2011,
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