November 07 2012

Why Begin a Twitter Chat?: A Guide for Architecture and Urban Planning

With the rise of Twitter chats being implemented within the fields or architecture and urban planning, and as a participant to many, I recently interviewed a few coordinators from my favorite chats: Joe Peach from This Big City (#citytalk), Alexa Mills from MITCoLab (#citychat), Sybil Barnes from the American Institute of Architects National (#AIAchat), and Matthew Franklin from #ArchChat.

Across all of the interviews conducted, the common themes, or reasons for starting a twitter chat were engagement, sharing, idea-generation, and networking. It seemed that from participating or hearing of other twitter chats, these coordinators became inspired to start something more regular of their own. Overall, they found that past experiences on twitter chats were rewarding enough to produce something more consistent for their organization, whether it be a blog, educational or professional organization, non-profit, or for-profit firm. Perhaps their responses will serve as inspiration for creating a twitter chat for your firm or organization. And stay tuned, as the series reveals the technicalities of how they successfully operate their regularly-scheduled chats.

  • #citytalk

Joe Peach, of This Big City (#citytalk), began his twitter chat from hosting occasional chats in the past. He “enjoyed the opportunity to discuss issues relating to sustainable cities. However, there wasn’t a regular tweetchat covering this topic, so, along with the South African media movement Future Cape Town, [they] decided to start [their] own. The purpose is to get a global perspective on issues that affect cities, sharing best and worst case examples, and learning from each other about suitable approaches for solving urban challenges and new opportunities for cities.”

  • #citychat

MITCoLab’s twitter chat, coordinated by Alexa Mills (#citychat), was originally inspired by her MIT colleague, Stephanie Hatch. After reading Stephanie’s article regarding the benefits of joining twitter chats she became increasingly excited. “It seemed like a great new way to talk with the city planning community on twitter, and to get new ideas on certain planning issues. The primary goal for #citychat is engagement. Twitter is often accused of being empty – a bunch of people shouting but nobody listening. In many way, this is a fair criticism. We wanted a twitter chat that was the opposite of all that. We’re striving for a chat environment where people engage with us and engage with one another, find new peers, and begin long-term collaborations or conversations.”

  • #ArchChat

Matthew Franklin, from Ask The Architect, hosts Ask Architect (#ArchChat). The chat “began so that industry professionals [could] join Ask The Architect in a way that would not put off members of the public using [the other hosted chat]. There is no aim or goal for the chat, just a platform that is available for use as part of Ask The Architect for professionals. [Matthew] also hosts #AskArch, which is the tag for free design clinics on twitter, as part of Ask The Architect.

  • #AIAchat

The American Institute of Architects National (#AIAchat) office began a twitter chat during their National Architecture Week event in April 2010. What began as a one-time activity has turned into a monthly chat “to facilitate an online dialogue among architects on a variety of issues within the architecture profession.” Sybil Barnes, the coordinator of the chat, facilitates the chat. “The goals for AIA Chat are to facilitate an online conversation around issues within the architecture profession and to help AIA members and prospects network with each other online.”

Whether you host a blog, operate an educational or professional organization, non-profit, or for-profit firm, the why of starting a regularly-scheduled twitter chat is as important as the how. So whether you are motivated similarly to those interviewed, such as increasing engagement, sharing, idea-generation, or networking, or for alternative reasons, discovering your why is essential.

So, why do you want to start a regularly-scheduled twitter chat? What motivates you and your firm? What are your goals? Once you have discovered these answers, you are well on your way to sorting out the technicalities of how to implement a twitter chat, which will be covered in the next post.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Renée van Staveren

Renée van Staveren is the Founder of Global Site Plans. She holds a M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She also holds a B.S. in Sustainable Community Development from Prescott College. Prior to establishing Global Site Plans and The Grid, Renée van Staveren was an Assistant Planner for A-M-M-A Transit Planning and the Program Director for Planet Green. In June 2014 Renée moved from Istanbul, Turkey, where she'd lived for four years, to return to the beautiful city of San Francisco. She is now a Manager at the Urban Land Institute's San Francisco District Council. You can find her at one of their many events, so pop in and say hello.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 at 5:05 pm and is filed under Architecture, Internet Marketing, Landscape Architecture, Renée van Staveren, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “Why Begin a Twitter Chat?: A Guide for Architecture and Urban Planning”

  1. Twitter Chat Frequency, Topics, and Promotion: A Guide for Architecture and Urban Planning | The GRID | Global Site Plans Says:

    [...] before you run out and start a twitter chat of your own. After establishing your unique why, previously covered, you should consider what kind of commitment you are willing to make and how to implement it. [...]

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