With networks working overtime to harness the realtime conversations happening about their shows on Twitter, the kings of the Second Screen have written a guide to facilitating the chatter.

The basics:

  • Choose & promote a single, simple hashtag for your show
  • Show the hashtag at least once between commercials & especially during dramatic moments
  • Get people responding with “madlib” sentence-starter hashtags that invite jokes
  • Pair hashtags with a call to action or a question, to provoke opinions
  • Show the Twitter name of show stars, hosts or guests onscreen so fans can interact directly
  • Have the host, star or guests livetweet and take questions during the show
  • If your show is national, livetweet during the Eastern viewing
  • If you show tweets onscreen, feature visual stunners & on-air talent’s behind-the-scenes access
  • Show tweets on a display on the set, rather than as a graphic overlay on top of the footage

As for timing, Twitter says, “Tweeting around TV follows a fairly predictable pattern: first, anticipatory Tweets appear 15-30 minutes before the show airs on the East Coast; then, the Tweets surge during the episode (with sharp spikes in response to surprises and reveals); finally, there’s another 15-30 minutes of post-show buzz and reaction.”

These guidelines can work outside of broadcast tv, to—apply them to webisodes that are released on a schedule (to take advantage of a concentration of audience) and try placing them in YouTube videos (even though audience size at a given time will probably be less than broadcasts)—you may not get a live conversation going, but you can certainly prompt viewers to ask questions, interact with talent, and follow you for future interactions.

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