Running Online Town Halls by Beth Becker

By at December 18, 2012 | 2:14 pm | Print

Running Online Town Halls by Beth Becker

Beth Becker

I’m often asked which I think is a better forum to do live Q&A via social media: Facebook or Twitter. While I love Twitter for all kinds of things, for this particular endeavor Facebook gets my hearty thumbs up. Doing a town hall via Facebook allows for a less chaotic conversation, and, given the longer shelf life, a Facebook event has the potential to be seen by more people over time.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Define the time span for the conversation. Facebook isn’t as fast moving as Twitter, so a town hall done on Facebook can be done over a longer period of time. There are a few options for how to run this. You could take questions live and respond right then and there, or collect questions over a set period of time in advance and then post each question and the answer as an individual post.
  • Use all of your communication channels to promote the conversation. No social media platform is an island. Get your Twitter followers and email list to join you on Facebook gives you one more way to communicate with them (note of caution: remember that the more your audience is following you on multiple channels, the more you need to make sure your content is channel-appropriate).
  • Don’t just answer and run. Actually have a conversation. Follow up to make sure your answer actually answered their questions, ask some questions of your own. 
  • Most importantly, have fun! Take pictures of what’s going on behind the scenes of the town hall so people online can feel like they are there with you. This goes for any type of online town hall you run (It also helps to validate that the person responding is the candidate or other high-profile person.)

Whatever forum you choose to do your online town hall, remember that it’s an opportunity to engage directly with fans, followers, and the general public. Make good use of the opportunity!

Originally posted as NOI (New Organizing Institute) Tip of the Day

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Beth Becker is the managing partner of Progressive PST, a social media consulting company that helps campaigns, elected officials, unions and other organizations incorporate social media into their long term overall strategies.  She is also the Online Communication Manager for and serves as an advisor to several smaller non profits on the strategic use of social media. Beth is a regular contributor at and Daily Kos

Twitter @Spedwybabs        212 642 2675


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