This post is advice from one livetweet host to others.
I created this blog more than two years ago to accompany the livetweet I had begun hosting on Sunday evenings. I still host and enjoy doing so for the small group that joins in for #BNoirDetour. I learned to be a good host by spending about six months participating in the livetweets of others, including such long-lived weekly events as #TrashTue, #DriveinMob, #BMovieManiacs, and #Riffotronic. Each of these and similar livetweets has a unique identity and viewership, some audiences overlapping and some folks just showing up for their favorite one.
For those who don’t know, what I mean by “livetweet” is shorthand for watching a film (usually free to view on YouTube, achive.org, or other similar site but sometimes via DVD or rental or, in the case of the huge 24/7 #TCMParty, watching a cable channel), and anyone who wishes joins in, starting the film at the same time and tweeting feedback (from humorous riffing a la MST3K to sharing trivia to posting screenshots with witty commentary). We see each others tweets to the film by using and following a common hashtag for that particular shared screening.
Today, there are so many livetweet hashtags and splinter groups that there are few hours from late afternoon to the wee hours when you can’t find some group (in the US) displaying their hasthtag and showing their flicks. That’s wonderful in the sense of sharing the fun, but there are problems too. There are almost as many hosts as viewers, it sometimes seems, and many of the newer livetweets on the block lack what I loved best about my early days as a riffer: a clear, unique concept and an experienced, polite, consistent host. Let me break it down with a series of questions that I recommend for consideration by all livetweet hosts and wanna-bes.
Questions for Hosts
(Developed in consultation with several hosts who are far more experienced than me, and through discussion with a few viewers who are leaving livetweeting because they don’t enjoy what’s being offered.)
- What is your brand, your unique idea for your livetweet that will let anyone who sees your hashtag know immediately what they are getting, what they are not getting, and why?
- What about you is suited to hosting said brand as a livetweet?
- How long have you joined in other successful livetweets to learn what works and what doesn’t in terms of a brand and a host for that brand?
- Once you get your livetweet up and running, are you consistent, sticking to your brand or idea or theme closely? If not, why should viewers attend, especially if you seem to be winging it, expecting others to like what you like and changing preferences when you change yours?
- Are you respectful of viewers and fellow hosts and livetweets? Are you careful not to overlap with an established livetweet time? Do you ask other hosts if you may post an ad for your livetweet during their event(s)? Do you host one well-conceived event a week or just grab slots because a certain hour is open? (This takes us back to question 1.)
These aren’t requirements. of course; there are no official livetweeting rules. Twitter is a lawless wilderness with many a troll at every turn, as we all know. But I think these questions offer good guidelines and advice that I take seriously myself. And they explain why I still enjoy #BNoirDetour every week and am going to stop joining unfocused, inconsistent, or disrespectfully hosted livetweets from now on.
A Final Note on Livetweet Etiquette
Being a good host or viewer is also about thinking about others when you tweet during a livetweet, as this video explains:
In writing this post, my motivations are sincere and somewhat selfish. I want to enjoy livetweeting more and more rather than less and less. Here’s hoping this post does some good. At very least, it lets me feel like I’m doing something active, something other than just bitching or withdrawing.
Thanks for reading. Your comments welcome.