11 Lessons on Running a Twitter Event

Recently I helped organize and host #Write4Life, a big charity fundraiser to benefit Sarah, a writer who has a rare illness. Whether you plan to host a book launch, a charity event, or something similar, here are some tips and tricks from my own experience on running a Twitter event:

  1. Pre-Plan Your Tweets. I pre-wrote all of my Tweets and had them posted in order in a Google doc. I also had all of my images organized to attach to those Tweets. This freed up time to handle other things as they came up. This works best for heavily-scheduled days. Note: avoid scheduling Tweets. They could muck things up for you easily.
  2. Simple is Best. The more complex the event, the more complications you will have day-of, and the more likely you will scare donors away because they don’t understand something. Do your utmost to simplify.
  3. Know What Sells. Most of our Genre Hours (donation windows categorized by genre) were under-attended… except for our YOUNG ADULT and SPECULATIVE hours. These are actually pretty big on Twitter! We might have made the same amount or more if we had narrowed the event down to just these genres, or to just age categories, and promoted to a more niche group.
  4. Limit Your Prizewinners. I figured we’d have a ton of people joining in, and that telling them they could win more than once would keep them in attendance and engaged. Unfortunately, we actually had more prize donations than donors in many categories, and we had to place an emergency cap of three as the total number of prizes one person could win. One small prize and one grand prize might work; no need to limit it to just one prize per person. But do set a limit.
  5. Put Clear Stipulations on Activities. I posted more than six games during the course of #Write4Life, and they were very popular… to one person, who won almost all of them. This is disheartening because now several people have to give prizes and critiques to this person, which is great for the winner, but feels redundant for the donors. I should have posted a note limiting activity winners to a single prize, and also been more clear that the prizes were only intended for those who donated to the cause. Yes, this may reduce participation in the activities… but it’s worth it.
  6. Have a Backup Twitter. Late the night before #Write4Life, my host account @writevent got flagged for spamming the #Write4Life hashtag, meaning none of @writevent’s posts showed up in the event feed. And we didn’t discover this until we actually started the event! I had to post from my personal account for an hour or two while my team worked to fix the issue (and it was a miracle it was fixed so fast). On that note:
  7. Things Will Go Wrong. This is inevitable. I made several  semi-big mistakes (like having to revoke prizes for drawing names from the wrong pot! eek!) and didn’t cover several bases. When you face the day of the event, try to handle issues that come up with a level head and don’t get frustrated. You honestly can’t be too prepared.
  8. Expect Low Turnout. Hopefully this won’t happen, but have a plan if it does. We actually ended up over-complicating some parts of our event due to low participation. It would have been better if we’d made a backup plan.
  9. Give Yourself a Break. Mark out time for yourself to eat, rejuvenate, take a walk. Automate stuff in the interim if needed. This is especially a big deal if you run an 8-hour long event like I did! Phew.
  10. Plan on Another Day. You may need to spend an entire additional workday wrapping up the event. Plan on this. Two weeks after #Write4Life, and I’m still wrapping stuff up for it!
  11. Incorrect Emails. If you are using an outside site, such as GoFundMe, for any sort of data collection, be aware that users often give fake or defunct email addresses when signing on to donate (or whatever they’re doing). This isn’t to be mean, since they just want to avoid spam from the site, but remember not to use emails gathered this way as your main contact method for participants!

I hope this gives you some insight into running your own event! If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section.


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