How to Host a Global Twitter Chat

When you’re a funder with a global grantee base you’re naturally in a convening role and often act as hub for resources. You are in a unique position to foster cross-regional and cross-sector conversations that can provide new perspective and growth to participants. 

One great way to bring together thought leaders and advocates from across your field is through a Twitter chat. If you work as much in Manila as you do in Mexico City, though, a one-hour Eastern Time Zone-friendly Twitter chat isn’t going to cut it. 

We were recently faced with this problem when a client decided to host a Twitter chat during UN Global Road Safety Week. While we wanted to engage with philanthropic and nonprofit influencers in Europe and America, we also wanted to build community and foster learning between grantee organizations that were scattered across Asia, Africa, and South America. 

So, we decided to host a global Twitter chat that would start as Asia was waking up and last throughout the day across the globe. We were worried that without a consolidated time frame we wouldn’t get momentum to build participation, but we ended up with over 500 messages throughout the day. Here are some of the lessons learned. 

Prep your grantees ahead of time. While Twitter chats have the air of spontaneity, you want to prep a core group of partners/grantees ahead of time, both to ensure participation, and to ensure that that participation is high-quality and strategic. By sending your grantees the questions ahead of time, grantees can put some thought into how best to engage with the chat to strengthen their policy goals.  

Don’t be afraid to use a little bit of advertising money. You’re spending a great deal of time and resources to organize your chat, match that effort with a small advertising budget. 

Tie into an existing calendar hook. You can host your Twitter chat whenever you want, but coordinating it with a major calendar event will give it a deeper hook, letting you tie into a greater conversation.

Have country-wide coalitions log-in at a set time: While your chat may be global, you can have individual country coalitions log-on and start regional conversations at set times. That way you can ensure real-time engagement throughout the day lead by different regions, while still encouraging inter-regional conversations.

Build your chat around the policy priorities of your grantees. A chat isn’t just a capacity building opportunity. It’s also an opportunity to organically create content that can further a grantee’s policy agenda. For example, in our chat, we asked organizations to highlight a leader in their local government or civil society, creating an organic way for grantees to engage with key decision-makers and influencers. 

Build on your existing capacity building programs. In our digital capacity building programs we’re always trying to improve the ability for coalitions to engage and learn from another. What are grantees doing in Nigeria that grantees in India can learn from and vice versa? A chat is the perfect way to encourage learning across countries. We built our chat based on the best practices of our training program, asking grantees to share their challenges and successes with one another.

Use the chat to build relationships with potential new funders or partners: Direct outreach to potential funders/partners can often feel forced if there isn’t an organic reason for the interaction. A chat is a great opportunity to form new relationships, and its important to strategically build a chat around your target audience and top influencers you’d like to engage. 

Ready to host your own Twitter chat, but not sure where to start. Sign up here and we’ll follow up with more information, including a Twitter chat checklist that can walk you through the process step by step.