December 19, 2012

Twitter Chat? You bet!

By Sandra Balzo

When my publisher, Severn House, asked me if I'd be willing to participate in  a Twitter Chat last month, I said, "You bet!" Then I–a former publicist–promptly went online to find out what the heck a Twitter Chat was.

I have issues with Twitter. A 140-character maximum? I mean, really? I write books for a living, remember?

Happily, Severn's publicist, Alexandra, walked me through the process. She'd be hosting the chat, which would last a mere 45 minutes. Heck, I could survive anything for 45 minutes, right?

Alex went on to explain that she'd start things out and then invite others to chime in. Still, I didn't quite understand the nuts and bolts. How would people know this was happening in the first place? And once they did, how did they "attend"?

Turned out the "how" was Twitter and social media, of course. Severn tweeted the chat's date, time and hashtag and I did likewise, as well as put it on Facebook, Linked In, Goodreads, etc.

As for how people "attended," at the appointed hour they would simply search the hashtag "#severnchat" to see the associated tweets and, in turn, include that same tag in their own tweets.

Alexandra also directed me to the site At the top of the home page I would be able to enter #severnchat, hit "go" and voila: All of the #severnchat tweets would show up as they came in, without the clutter of other tweets. Plus, the hashtag would automatically be added to my tweets so I wouldn't have to bother.

The night of the chat, I poured myself a glass of red wine, sat down at my computer and dutifully signed into TweetChat. Moments later, Alexandra popped up to let me know she was there. Then a few more people chimed in, and we were off to the races.

Alexandra had warned me that it's easy to get frazzled and overwhelmed, so I just tried to answer each tweet as it came in even if questions and answers overlapped. All in all, I had multiple questions from nine or ten different people--plenty to fill the fastest 45 minutes of my life and allow me to deem my first Twitter Chat a success.

The chat was both fun and frantic. My one and only disappointment was there's no way of knowing who followed the discussion unless they actually spoke up.

That aside, I'd definitely recommend a Twitter Chat as an effective way of connecting with readers. Even better, the chat can be archived on something called "Storify." That means that while your chat ends after 45 minutes, your ability to use it for promotion goes on and on.

In fact, you can put the link on your website, Facebook and various author pages, Linked In, or . . . a guest blog! :-)
Sandy's SevernChat:
Sandra Balzo is an award-winning author of crime fiction, including nine books in two different mystery series from Severn House--the Wisconsin-based Maggy Thorsen Mysteries and Main Street Murders, set in the High Country of North Carolina and featuring journalist AnnaLise Griggs.Balzo's books have garnered starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, while being recommended to readers of Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris, Harlan Coben, Joan Hess and Margaret Maron.
Find Sandy online at, Pinterest (, Facebook (Sandra Balzo Mysteries) and Twitter (@SandraBalzo


  1. Welcome back to Southern Writers Magazine's blog, Sandra. I'm so glad you gave us your experience with your Twitter Chat. Merry Christmas and I can't wait to read your latest book in 2013.

  2. Hello There. I found your blog the usage of msn. That is an extremely neatly written article.
    I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your helpful info.
    Thank you for the post. I'll certainly return.

    My weblog: learn more here