Running a livechat: Top tips

Livechats are an often-overlooked content-marketing tactic that can bring new people to your site, and help establish your organisation as a thought leader and curator of debate on key topics. Here’s how to run one…

 Running a livechat: Top tips

When planning a livechat as part of your content marketing, start by thinking whether it’s the right format for you, and what you want to get out of it. 


Livechats are good for:

✓ positioning your organisation as a thought leader and promoting your in-house expertise
✓ generating interest around a topic that’s both of interest to users and mapped to your business goals
✓ generating debate and turning those findings into future content (like a takeaway on social media best practice)

But livechats are maybe not so good for:

✘ trying to communicate a central message or control the conversation – livechats are about discussion, not you dictating an overarching theme
✘ promoting products or services – if people sense that the event is just a disguised plug, they won’t find you credible and won’t come back

Livechat planning: focus points

If you decide a livechat is right for you, what do you need to think about? Here are some focus points.

Strategy 
Think about:

  • How will you measure the success of the event? 
  • How does the event map to your business goals?
  • Which segment(s) of your audience are you trying to reach? What do you want them to think, feel or do as a result of participating? 

Content
What will you actually talk about?
Think about:

  • topics that people will actually be interested in hearing about, not just things you want to say
  • themes that address people’s pain points, tell them something they didn’t know, plug into a trend or issue that’s topical in your world 
  • social media-friendly subject matter – content that people will want to share 
  • developing a narrative arc for the chat, so you’ve got topics and points you can move on to, to keep up the momentum

Participants
Ideally you want a good mix of participants from inside and outside your organisation.
Think about:

  • sending them plenty of information to ensure they’re well-briefed
  • attracting an industry name who will help to generate interest and anticipation  

Practical considerations
To make sure the livechat runs well, make sure you:

  • start to invite participants early – say 8 weeks in advance
  • appoint a moderator – someone to keep an eye on comments 
  • have enough participants to make the livechat work and keep it flowing
  • inform your IT team so they’re on hand should something go wrong

Build-up to the event
Put some thought into promoting your event.
Think about:

  • building anticipation by pushing it on social media and blogs in the preceding weeks
  • announcing interesting participants as they confirm 
  • launching an email marketing campaign 
  • encouraging your team to promote the livechat through their own channels 

Follow-up
After a livechat ends, there’s no reason to let it stop there.
Think about:

  • using your findings to create new content eg ‘5 things we learned about x’
  • putting a replay online for people who couldn’t join
  • keeping in touch with external participants – ask for their feedback and invite them back for future chat
  • review your metrics to assess the event’s performance, and think about what you’d do differently next time