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 2016: We’re doing it again this year!]

 

happeningo-schuman-soon

 

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 a digital agency 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 a social media ninja guru. Only a team of happeninjas can turn an EU live chat into a “happening” online.

 

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 your 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. Mr. Schuman doesn’t have his own website so I added his chat to our home page soonfeed.

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 people to tweet a 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. 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 Chief of Happenings at happeningo digital agency and founder of Soonfeed, the first timeline of what’s happening soon on the web.