We love Twitter Q&As. They make it easy for a lot of community members (and even folks you’ve never interacted with) to follow along or join the conversation as it’s happening. And because they're so visible, with a full-blown chat taking place in public, people get a closer look at which topics you have top-of-mind.
They're also a great way to learn more from community leaders, which is why we were so excited to host one with Sarah Guo just last month, and plan to host more in the future.
But we learned that while the platform and premise are simple enough, the coordination gets a little trickier, so we’re back with a checklist we put together for next time that could also help you plan one of your own. Check it out and read on for more details.
✅ Find your answerer
✅ Set a date and time
✅ Get the questions to your guest
✅ Promote the Q&A
✅ Figure out formats
✅ Mention relevant people and orgs
Find your “answerer”.
Decide which subject you want to cover and find a leader in that space — community management, DevRel, community-led growth, whatever you and your own community would love to learn more about, there’s someone out there who can offer quality insights. Consider people in your existing network. Do you have community members, customers, investors, or other advisors who would be willing to spare an hour for some answers?
We put this item first because your guest has to be available for the actual Q&A, so you likely won’t have a date figured out until you have someone who can commit to a day and time. This is one area where you can’t work ahead.
Figure out a date and time.
A lot factors into this one. Assuming you want to get questions to your guest in advance, you want enough time to field those questions from your community and give the guest time to consider their answers.
We recommend giving your community at least 2-3 days to get their questions in, assuming they aren’t checking Slack, Twitter, and Discord 24/7. Depending on your guest’s schedule, they’d probably appreciate at least 3-4 business days to check out the questions and prepare their answers. When you do that math, your Q&A will likely take place at least a week to 10 days from when your guest signs on. Not a bad spread.
Get the questions to your guest.
Bonus points if you can give your guest plenty of questions to choose from. Assuming you get several submitted by the community, you likely won’t cover all of them, but it gives the guest a chance to choose which subjects they feel more comfortable covering, and they can prep answers in advance to give the whole Q&A a good pace.
We ran into a couple of instances where we thought the question asked one thing, but the guest assumed another, so we needed a quick regroup with the community member who submitted, just to make sure we got them the answer they needed. Highly recommend giving yourself that grace period.
This also gives you more time to knock out Step 4.
Promote the heck out of your Q&A.
This isn’t just to get people tuned in and engaged with the tweets, but also to give them a heads-up that they can (and should!) submit their questions. Plus, the more time you can build into this promo phase, the better chance you'll have high visibility once the actual Q&A takes place.
That’s the thing about doing this on Twitter: Timeliness is everything. If people hop on too much later, their timeline could look completely different and they may never see a single question or answer.
Figure out formats.
This is big, as it determines both the overall flow of your Q&A and how it’s archived. Maybe you want all replies in text form. Awesome! They can be ready at their keyboard. But if you want to mix up the media — like we did with Sarah — figure out which answers would be best via video, voice, or with attached photos ahead of time so they can prep.
You’ll also want to figure out how the guest will attach their answer to each question. In Sarah’s case, a lot of the text replies were longer than a single tweet, so we determined it made more sense to build a thread on the original Q. One tradeoff to this is anyone who follows Sarah but doesn’t follow Common Room wouldn’t see her replies, because they start with our handle. To offset that, we asked her to quote tweet a couple of answers, that way all of her followers could see she was answering something, and hopefully click into the thread or visit our timeline for more context.
The great thing about Twitter is there’s always a way to cross-promote a given tweet. If the guest quote tweets every question with their answer, you can simply retweet into your own timeline to close the loop before asking the next Q. If they don’t want to make every answer a new tweet for the sake of sharing with their followers, they can announce their involvement before, during, and after to drive new followers your way. It’s all about eyeballs, which brings us to another key item...
Be sure to @ relevant people and orgs.
The more experts you can loop into the convo, the better. If your guest mentions a colleague or product they love working with, have that handle at the ready — and make sure it’s the right handle. A mis-mention means the original recipient may never know they could’ve joined in!
We slipped up in our Q&A with Sarah, forgetting a couple of underscores. Once we realized our mistake, we made sure to loop in the right friends, but that was after the convo continued without them. As much as we wanted to make good time with the Q&A, it wasn’t worth excluding those voices. Lesson learned — but let’s not forget the final step.
It’s a Twitter Q&A! With someone your community respects and admires! Enjoy the opportunity, absorb all the info they choose to share, and don’t overthink any part of it. Your community will benefit greatly from all your hard work, even with a missed period or delayed answer thrown into the mix.
If you’ve hosted your own Q&A before and have any other tips ahead of hosting, let us know! We have one under our belt and more on the way, but can always learn more — and who better to teach us than the Uncommon community?