Live chat best practices

It’s a dreaded fear among us digital types who try to engage readers by doing live events or live chats on our websites: The fear that NOBODY will ask a question or make a comment. I’ll admit there have been a few times that I’ve filled an hour virtually talking to myself, rambling on (live blog style) and adding videos and polls in a desperate attempt to fill the time. As a colleague of mine would say, CRICKETS, is the worst.

Luckily, I’ve learned from my chat successes and failures using Scribblelive, our liveblogging platform. I thought I’d share a few tips with you.

1. Pick a good topic. This sounds obvious but it can be hard sometimes to find the right issue to really grab readers. Topics that are timely (i.e. current events, wildly popular TV show), universal (i.e. shared experiences, such as weather, traffic) tend to work. Open topics that a lot of people tend to like (i.e. wine, music, movies) have also worked well for us here at Sun Media’s national online desk.

2. Bring in guests. Including experts gives credibility to your chat and increases the likelihood of people asking questions.

3. Set it up early. Give yourself time to write a catchy intro. Be sure to clearly explain how people can participate. i.e.) Comment below, custom Scribblelive email, hashtag.

4. Promote it. Talk about it on Twitter, Facebook, etc., post it to your website in advance so people know the event is coming up. Give it a plug in print.

5. Make it easy for people to participate. I like to give people several ways to get involved, including through the live blog, email and Twitter. The more ways they can give involved the more participation you’ll have.




Reddit explained in less than five minutes

This video helps explain how social media site Reddit works. Reddit can be a great source for story ideas and to boost content if you can navigate the complex world of up votes/down votes, subreddits and links. It’s a whole new social language that you’ve got to learn to speak before getting any traction on the site.

Here’s another useful Reddit story from a few weeks ago: Stanford researchers crack the math behind successful Reddit submissions. There’s some good info here.