7 Steps to Successful Twitter Interviews

social media how toWant to expand your Twitter business network?  Looking for a way to get to know someone better before connecting with them outside of Twitter?

Twitter interviews are the answer.   Twitter interviews are simply interviews where the conversation is carried out entirely in tweets. Here’s a few of the benefits of Twitter interviews:

  • You learn more about the people you interview.
  • You show your Twitter audience whom you are interested in connecting with.
  • You give others the opportunity to share more about themselves.

Twitter interviews can be fun for everyone when you do them right.

Live Twitter Interviews

Jay Baer has been doing “live Twitter interviews (aka twitterviews), long before George Stephanopoulos popularized the concept by chatting with Senator John McCain in 140 character bursts.” Here is Jay Baer’s compilation of his Twitter interviews.

Want to learn how to do great live Twitter interviews?  Here’s a 7-point checklist.

#1: Determine Reasons for the Twitter Interview

First, you need to have a clear understanding of why you are conducting your live Twitter interviews.  This will help you choose the best people to interview and the right questions to ask to get the most out of your interviews. Here are some possible reasons:

  • To provide valuable or unique insights to your Twitter audience
  • To have a bit of fun and share it with others
  • To network with others and get to know them more
  • To help someone promote his or her latest book or services

#2: Make Pre-Interview Contact

You need to make sure the person you interview understands the reasons why you are conducting the live Twitter interview and agrees with this.  If you want to provide valuable insights to your Twitter audience and your Twitter interviewee only promotes his or her services, the experience will not be a good one for anyone.

Send a pre-interview email outlining what to expect and how it will take place.  Don’t assume everyone is as Twitter- or web-savvy as you are; they may appreciate the extra information you can give them.

#3: Decide on a Hashtag

Hashtags make it possible for everyone to follow the Twitter interview.  So you’ll need to come up with an easy hashtag to use.

Jay Baer uses #twt20 for his Twitter 20 interview series and I use #ckinterview for my cross-cultural Twitter interview series.

You’ll want to let people know what your Twitter interview hashtag is so they can follow along or search for it after the event.

#4: TweetChat

Of course, you can simply post your tweets as you usually do, but this only gives you a limited view of the conversation.  The Twitter monitoring tools you use to follow hashtags can also help you follow the Twitter interview.

I like using TweetChat to follow and tweet live Twitter interviews for a variety of reasons:

  • It’s web-based, which means everyone can access it easily.
  • It’s easy to sign in with your Twitter account.
  • All you need to do is enter the hashtag you are using—without the “#.”
  • With TweetChat you don’t need to add your hashtag each time you tweet. TweetChat does this automatically for you.
  • You can use the reply button in TweetChat so others can see the question.
  • You have a live stream of everyone using this hashtag.
  • You see all of the live conversations, including any comments from your audience.
tweet chat

Simply “sign in with Twitter” and “enter hashtag to follow” in the top box.

#5: Decide Direction of the Interview

You’ll want to think about the number of questions you want to ask and the ideal average length of time for your Twitter interview.

As you can see, Jay sticks to 20 questions in his live Twitter 20 interviews and this takes about 90 minutes.

After trial and error I found my audience and interviewees enjoyed 30- to 45-minute interviews most with about 10 questions.

You’ll need to find the right fit for your audience.

two part twitter interviews

You can also split your interview into two parts: a written interview in a blog post published before your live Twitter interview and an updated blog post with the transcription of the live interview.

#6: Come Up With Interview Questions

Do you want to adapt your questions to each interview? Or do you want a set of questions for all of the people you interview?

When you prepare your interview questions, try to make them suitable for your Twitter audience.  There’s only so much you can do in 140 characters.

When your Twitter audience finds your questions fun or intriguing they will want to jump in and enter the discussion too.

#7: Advertise Your Twitter Interview

Let people know about your upcoming Twitter interview through your usual communication channels: your blog, newsletter, Facebook and LinkedIn updates and whatever relevant methods of communication you use offline.

Tweet about it prior to the live Twitter interview:

  • The day before
  • A couple of hours before
  • Half an hour before
  • A few minutes before

Find what works best for your audience.

half way through twitter interview

Remember to let your Twitter followers know what you are doing during the live interview.

Keep the Conversation Going

Once your live Twitter interview is finished be sure to put up the transcript on your blog and share it on your social media platforms.

When you do a series of live Twitter interviews it’s easy to collate the different interviews and rebroadcast the information in different formats.  As you can see at the beginning of this post, Jay made a presentation of his Twitter 20 interviews.  I created separate blog posts for each of the 10 questions in my cross-cultural Twitter interviews.

If you think about how you’d like to continue the conversation before your live interview, you might find questions to ask to make it easy to do this.

twitter interview conversation

Ask how you can help them connect with others and continue networking after the Twitter interview.

Above all, remember this is a networking exercise.  Have fun and try to make it easy for everyone to jump in and follow the Twitter interview.

Are you ready to use Twitter interviews to develop your network on Twitter? Please share your comments below.

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About the Author, Cindy King

Cindy King is the director of editorial for Social Media Examiner. She spent 25 years abroad in international business development and then built her own international business from scratch by using social business networking. Other posts by »




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  • http://twtrcoach.com TwtrCoach

    Hi Cindy.

    Absolutely brilliant article. I knew from following your Cross cultural Twitter interviews that you are one of the authorities on the area.

    Your insight and info that you share here is some of the most valuable Twitter info I have seen in a long time. Everyone should pay attention and take notes here.

    Bookmarked and article will be Tweeted from me :)

    Cheers.. Are

  • http://www.wchingya.com wchingya

    I have had the honor to hop on a couple of Cindy’s Twitter Interviews back in the days. Her guest was sharing his experience about cultural differences in other countries, and it was a fun ride following the tweets (thanks to hashtag which made it all easy). This is something I attempt to do in future as well. A challenging task which require detailed planning like any other writings. Cindy, if you don’t mind me asking, how do you manage to control the flow of the interview so well? Any unexpected challenges during the interview that we should be aware of, say when the guest is distracted by audience ‘tough’ questions? Since this is a live interview, must be a lot we need to consider or am I thinking too much? Love to hear your opinion. Thank you in advance. :)

    Brilliant article by the way, timely!

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Thank you Are! Glad you like the articles on Twitter. I’ve had lots of fun with the Twitter interviews, and everyone I interview enjoys the experience too. Well…except the first interviews. I tried to ask too many questions in the beginning and the interviews were way too long. I learned the hard way :)

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Hi Ching Ya, great question. Of course there were a few hiccups. Twitter was extremely slow once and my guest and I were in different chat rooms once.

    I learned quite quickly that some people are not as savvy on Twitter as others, so I like to keep Skype on and tell people to shoot any questions through the Skype chat window there because I see it immediately and don’t get it mixed up with the Twitter interview going on at the same time. (But I don’t use “voice” on Skype. I manage best when everything is kept to writing & reading.)

    A few people have appreciated having this extra chat window open and it’s helped to keep the flow going over the occasional glitch.

    Hope you let us know when you do one!

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    Thanks Cindy. Great post! I love your easy to follow recipe. For me, most important part is to have your questions figured out. You have to keep Twitter interviews moving fast, or participants and viewers get bored. I don’t follow a script per se, but I usually have 25 questions ready for a 20 question interview, and ask many of them, mixed with on-the-fly questions based on responses.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Hey Jay, it’s interesting that you have to pay attention to the pace. That’s not been an issue my end. I wonder why? I think the call we do prior to the live twitter interview might help. I do say in advance that we do 10 questions and it usually takes 30 minutes, sometimes 45 minutes if others join in. And also having the Skype chat window helps. It’s easy to ask if Twitter is slow or not.

    But 20 questions would be too many for my cross-cultural interviews, although I might be able to do 15 if I came up with great questions.

    I’d definitely do a few trial runs before scheduling an interview with someone important.

  • Erken

    Oooh you just made me discover something! I didn’t know Twitter interviews existed! It’s a very interesting idea and if I need to recruit someone I think I may give it a try. ;) Thanks!

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    I don’t interact with interview subjects in advance. They don’t know what the questions are, or anything like that. Thus, it might take them a little longer to answer that for your interviews. I have found 20 questions to be 75 minutes, in my case. Although the social media types I interview often send 2-4 tweets per answer, so it stacks up!

  • http://www.b2bbloggers.com Jeremy Victor

    Great Tips Cindy – Tweetchat is a really great application to use.

    For the Twitter Interviews I’ve conducted for #B2BBookclub (http://www.b2bbloggers.com/blog/lets-talk-books/) – I typically prepare about 30 questions or so to fill the hour. It is probably overkill, but it gives me greater flexibility as the interview moves along. Also, as Jay mentions, I also will add questions based on the Interviewers response.

    The pace can be an issue for me as well. You never know how quickly someone can type, right?. I have had on occasion sent the questions prior but prefer not to. Thanks, Jeremy

    G

  • http://warrenwhitlock.com/social-media-expert Warren Whitlock

    we use twitter interviews when we wrote Twitter Revolution.. quickly learned that it’s good promo, and even better when you lead tweeps to a longer version.. We settled on “Twitnterviews”.. any audio of video under 140 seconds or a short blog post to summarize the exchance

  • http://twitter.com/foxygknits Lois Stifel

    Very informative, as usual. You set high standards and never disappoint! I did a twitter interview of myself for a blog post and got quite a good response from it: http://www.foxygknits.com/?s=twitter+interview

    I do quite a few interviews for my blog, but I must say that this was one of the easiest subjects with whom I have worked!

  • http://twitter.com/kathyswanson Kathy Swanson

    Great article, idea and concept. Thansk for sharing!

  • heatherwhaling

    This article is so timely! I’m co-moderator of the #pr20chat (shameless plug: Tuesday from 8-9 ET). To switch things up a bit, we conducted a “twitterview” last night with @prCog. We identified questions ahead of time, and incorporated additional questions from the chat community. With about 800 tweets posted during the hour (from the intervewee, interviewer and chat participants), it was very fast paced. Looking back, a couple things I’d change: Make sure the interviewee and the rest of the participants can tell the “official” questions from those just being posed more informally. On our chat last night, there were so many questions flying around, it was hard to keep track. All in all, it was a great opportunity for our chat community to connect with another PR person and to see the benefits of a twitterview. I think we’ll definitely do it again — and I’m sure we’ll incorporate some of the tips from this article.

    Heather
    @prTini

  • eninac

    I am just in the gathering stages and am trying to learn as much about twitter as I can before I jump in. But I have to say that your ideas are inspiring me and are making me very impatient to get started. Thanks!

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Hi Erken, the cross-cultural twitter interviews I do are mainly a networking exercise. Reading through the comments here, it’s obvious there are different objectives to conducting the twitter interviews. I haven’t heard of anyone doing a twitter interview as part of a recruitment process yet.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Hi Jeremy, thanks for sharing the link and info about your twitter interviews! They look interesting. Do you publish a transcript of the Twitter interview at all?

  • Erken

    I think it would be interesting to try. Obviously the decision to recruit someone cannot be based solely on a short twitter interview and a face to face interview would still be needed, but it could helpful as a “pre-interview”, especially if the job is social media related.. I’ll let you know if I come across such thing or even if I start one myself ;)

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Warren, love your Twitnterviews and leading people to the longer versions! I did something similar, the cross-cultural interviews are actually in 2 parts:
    – First a standard short blog post interview where the guest gets to share whatever he wants.
    – Second the live Twitter interview with 10 set questions
    The blog post is published earlier the same day as the live Twitter interview and the transcript of the Twitter Interview is added to this blog post about 30 minutes after it’s finished.

    Your comment also highlights the different reasons why people do Twitter interviews and how this can lead to different variations. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Hi Lois, thanks for sharing! This is the first time I’ve seen a Twitter interview like this. Love the blog post too.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Heather, it sounds like you had a great twitterview! Thanks for sharing what you’d change. With 800 tweets I can imagine it might have been difficult to follow the questions.

    I’ve thought of numbering the questions, but haven’t done this yet. There are always people who will be challenged when following a Twitter interview. This is why I initially started putting up the transcript. I do reorganize the order of the tweets to make the transcript easy and put participant chats in pullquotes in the blog post.

    During the interview it’s never easy to manage the order in answering the participant questions. Some guests are more tuned into this than others. Plus there are days when Twitter is slower in publishing tweets and this complicates multiple-way conversations.

    Please let me know if you come up with a way to make this part easier.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    It’s interesting you say this. My primary objective in doing my cross-cultural twitter interviews is to network one step further with the people who interest me on Twitter. This is a quick and easy way for me to get to know them more and identify deeper networking opportunities.

    So I use the Twitter interviews in a similar way, except I’m looking for potential business partners or people I can refer business to. It’s more like a “pre-interview” for long term strategic networking and not to find someone to fill a job.

  • http://www.b2bbloggers.com Jeremy Victor

    Cindy,
    Yes – I have them in my editorial calendar for publication in the coming weeks.

    A couple of points.

    1. It is a bit of work to edit the transcripts due to the fact that many times answers span multiple tweets. It really turns out to be great content though and a way to archive the conversations.

    2. Twitter’s search only looks back a short period of time – I think two weeks. So immediately after the interview, I save the transcripts to an HTML file so I can get back to it later. Once the content is no longer searchable on Twitter, it is really *lost*. It’s best to get that content and publish it.

    Here is an example of my interview with Gord Hotchkiss:
    http://www.b2bbloggers.com/blog/the-buyersphere-project-an-interview-with-gord-hotchkiss/

  • http://warrenwhitlock.com/social-media-expert Warren Whitlock

    I’ve started looking at every interview as an opportunity to cross promote. I retweet the guest, comment on their blog posts and tweet about them, write them guest posts and suggest that they do the same. I get more readers for cross promoted posts so it’s an instant payoff.. even before the radio show.

    Now it’s time to talk about this on “Profitable Social Media” Would you like to be a guest on our show?

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Love the cross-promotion and how a simple Twitter interview can lead to more extensive networking.

    Sure! Let’s talk further on “Profitable Social Media”, I’ll email you.

  • Allan Schoenberg

    I’ve been doing Twitterviews for the exchange for more than a year (http://www.stocktwits.com/symbol/EXCHTALK) and have found that the hashtag (#3 listed above) is one of the most important features. Since we’ve partnered with StockTwits our # has been converted to a $ sign. This is an excellent post with some very helpful tips and reminders.
    @allanschoenberg/@CMEGroup

  • http://twitter.com/foxygknits Lois Stifel

    Thanks, Cindy. I will probably never find a more willing interview subject. Why, I could almost read her mind!

  • Maxiosearch

    Great article Cindy, thanks for sharing! I didn´t know about the powerful effect of twitter interviews. I see it as a great way to engage more people that shows interest in the interview and increase your network. Another interesting way of engaging people is creating conversations on sites like Startups.com Q&A where you can place business questions for experts out there to answer and can conduct a great conversation about a particular business topic.

  • http://twitter.com/gthead Gavin Head

    Great idea! I wish I would have thought of it myself! I’m definitely going to do this. Thanks for the advice and tips/steps to do it.

  • Véronique Schyns

    Very interesting. I’m going to try this and let you know!

  • http://www.brettwidmann.com Brett Widmann

    I use twitter a lot so any extra tips are very helpful to me. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/Wiesenhofer Wiesenhofer

    Very interesting post @CindyKing. I like the idea of open interview very much and will try to adopt this in future. Thanks!

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  • Dee

    Amazing article. I didn’t know how I was going to do something via Twitter that complimented my publishing company. This is perfect! Thanks so much! http://www.serenitypcinc.com

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