How to host a tweet chat when you’ve been dead for 52 years

Can a Twitter chat with the late “Father of Europe”, Robert Schuman, engage more eurotweeps than a live chat with a European commissioner who isn’t dead?


[UPDATE JUNE 2018: We’re doing it this year for the 4th time. I’m pretty sure it will be the biggest #AskSchuman so far.]




Let’s find out.


To celebrate his 129th birthday on 29 June, Mr. Schuman took over the @happeningo Twitter account in his first ever tweet chat. For 60 minutes he answered any question that wasn’t offensive or related to his self-imposed celibacy.


Here are my live updates of the process, starting 30 days beforetime (June 2015).


30 DAYS: Find help to plan and promote your tweet chat.


Ask Schuman live chat announcement


When you’re the Father of Europe and want to engage with your offspring in realtime, don’t leave it to chance with some social media ninja guru agency.


20 DAYS: Let the digital agency do its thing.


Since the live chat will be a takeover of the @happeningo Twitter account, Mr. Schuman won’t need his own @AskSchuman account. We still registered it though, so that this would appear when people search “Ask Schuman” on Twitter:


Ask Schuman Twitter Accounts


15 DAYS: Add the happening to a soonfeed.


To bring people to a tweet chat in realtime, embed a soonfeed widget on your website beforetime. Announce the live chat there, so anyone can discover and get an alert as it starts. [EDIT 25 OCT 2017: We’ve stopped developing the Soonfeed widget, the timing was wrong. But I’d like to build a mobile app that enables you to discover, share, discuss and get alerts to live content before it happens. With a partner this time. Know anyone?]

12 DAYS: Let a couple of keen Brussels observers know what you’re planning. 



7 DAYS: Post a time lapse house of cards video thingy on the day of an emergency EU summit.



5 DAYS: Ask 10 friends to tweet their question at #AskSchuman


Twitter activity beforetime


Because people are more likely to join in when other people start the conversation for them. And the more questions there are beforetime, the less room there is for trolls or negative sentiment to corrupt the hashtag feed.


3 DAYS: Practice condensing your wisdom into tweets of 100 characters or less.


I’ve already taught Mr. Schuman how to do this. He’s still not sure what “the twitters” are, but that doesn’t matter at this point.


1 DAY: It’s Sunday.


Dozens of questions have already been tweeted to #AskSchuman, so there are many answers to prepare. But Mr. Schuman is a deeply religious man. He shall not be working today.


D-DAY: How did we do?


Despite European Commission President Juncker hosting a big press conference at around the same time, we managed to engage 130 Twitter users and to reach over 120,000 users, which is pretty good in terms of vanity metrics. In fact the #AskSchuman hashtag trended in Belgium for most of the live chat. So it’s just as I suspected. A tweet chat with Robert Schuman can engage more eurotweeps than a European commissioner who isn’t dead.


Belgium Trends on Twitter


Richard Medic is founder of happeningo communicators and Soonfeed Media.