Twitter-pated to Twitter-Stumped and Back: the Evolution of my Museum TweetChat

Today’s topic (as you, my dear intelligent readers, may have guessed from the title) is related to Twitter. Ohhh Twitter.

Over six weeks ago, my supervisor at the Firefighters Museum of Calgary suggested a grand idea: why don’t we host a TweetChat for all Alberta summer students working in public history arenas?

“Oh. My. Gosh,” I thought, “that’s a brilliant beyond brilliant idea!”

To be honest, I didn’t actually know what a TweetChat was when she first suggested it, but once I found out, I thought it was even MORE beyond brilliant – past the land of awesome and heading into the planet of extraordinary, if you will.

A TweetChat, for those like me who don’t already know, is a scheduled “tweet-scussion” (tweet discussion) that falls under a pre-determined hashtag. So anyone can tune in to that hashtag when the conversation is happening and follow along or add their input (being sure to use the common hashtag so the tweet is linked to the discussion). COOL, amIright?!

Not only was this a great opportunity for my resume,  to say I organized such a thing, but it was the first I’d ever heard of a small Canadian museum taking on a TweetChat initiative.

And so began the researching process.

First, I looked into exactly how a TweetChat worked (this YouTube video was particularly helpful) and different ideas for chats and advertising.

With background research, my supervisor and I started floating ideas. I suggested taking the chat beyond Alberta and inviting students working in heritage across Canada to participate.

With this in mind, and a date chosen for the first chat (Thursday, June 27th from 12:30-1 MST), my supervisor e-mailed a posting about the chat to the Alberta Museum Association, as well as the Canadian Museum Association.

I began posting about the chat on Facebook and Twitter. I also e-mailed the director of the public history program at Western University and asked her to post about the chat on the Public History Alumni Facebook page.

She Tweeted about the event and suggested another Facebook group called Emerging Museum Professionals, so I joined this group and spread the word on their page.

My supervisor and I had created the hashtag “#museumchatter” (which I registered on Twubs) as a common feed for those interested to follow and find out what each week’s topic would be.

BUT! This hashtag couldn’t function for an actual TweetChat because it didn’t give any hints as to the weekly topic. Thus, I began pondering a topic for the first chat and a catchy hashtag to accompany.

I figured the first topic needed to be broad so everyone felt they could participate and there wasn’t too much pressure to think and be, well, deep about one’s tweets. Something like “a day in the life of a museum worker” or “behind the scenes at the museum”… But how to make that a hashtag?

It had to be short so it didn’t take up too many of those pesky 140 characters…

It had to be “hip” since I clearly need to look cool…

I thought about “#museumlife”…

And then I thought about “#muselife”…

And then I went even hip-per and took it to “#muselyfe”. And there it stayed. A chat about cool or interesting things one has seen or done so far at their heritage job. Post pictures, stories, links – I was open to all mediums.

When the first chat came, I was ready with everything organized through TweetDeck and my first tweet composed by 12:25, my curser hovering over “send tweet” on my computer screen, ready to click come 12:30…

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Just kidding, there’s more to say on the topic, but I think I’ll save it for another post. You know, preserve the mystery.

Stay tuned and until then, my friends!