Virtual Town Hall Meetings

John Hope-JohnstoneGood day: I enjoy writing to you each week about social media at the 45,000 ft level, but I have to confess that I am not as comfortable writing about the day to day use of the social media platforms. I have wonderful people working with me who are far more knowledgeable about creating good facebook pages etc.

However, a friend of mine is trying to develop a town hall meeting format for his constituents and it made me wonder which social media platforms would work best for him?

Preaching to the masses:

People using social media for town hall gatherings sometimes consider that facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc., are mass media, which they are not! They are designed more for a rifle approach.

I am not speaking about your 2,000 friends on facebook or your 1,400 followers on Twitter. A shout-out about something like a town hall meeting would certainly hit a lot of people but you are preaching to the choir.

For most of our sermons, (to follow the preaching analogy), this is fine, but if we want to hit a bunch of folks we have never met before and have them join us in a one time conversation, it doesn’t work all that well.

I expect you have been doing social networking all your life. You most likely have belonged to a civic club or a young professional’s organization, something that allows you to meet new people and develop business contacts. These are great, but would you call them “mass marketing”? All that the new social media, powered by search technology, has done is placed your civic club on steroids, that’s all.

If you are going to want to reach the masses and ask them to have a dialogue, you are going to need to begin by using mass media, (TV, Newspaper, e-newsletters etc). You will use it to announce your intentions to have a town hall meeting and ask them if they would like to join you this Sunday at 3pm and to please send questions.

President Obama advanced the concept of virtual town hall meetings by using video streaming and perhaps it is one of the best ways to have a town hall.  A simple way of doing it is via using a simple Web cam and laptop and it can be shared on facebook and other social media platforms. Questions can come in via phone or via text (suggest text, easier to edit).

However, you still need to shout-out to the masses that you are going to be on- line, unless you just want the choir.

Preaching to the Choir:

If preaching to the choir is exactly what you want to do (and not the masses), how do you develop a reasonable number of followers?

I add 10-20 new friends or followers onto my social media platforms on a daily basis. How do I find these new people? I am madly in love with  this is the advanced search engine for twitter and allows me to find tweets that related to social media strategy. I can even drill down and only find people who are asking questions about social media strategy, then I can help them.

If you know of someone and want to follow them, and have them eventually follow you, then Twellow Pages from Twitter is a great search tool for you.

After I give a speech, I will quite often search for key people at the conference via Twellow pages, or facebook’s search , or, although it’s rather unfriendly, facebook’s advanced search.

 I hope you have found this to be of some small use. Please leave a comment or a suggestion for a better way to reach the masses for a town hall or build you own critical number of followers.

Next week, Public Relations and Social Media. I really appreciate you reading this blog and hope you will come back again.




  1. Aida Spennato says:

    Pur essendo convinta che i social network siano degli importantissimi mezzi per la comunicazione e le relazioni sociali e pur apprezzandone le qualità come sistemi per comunicare velocemente e in tempo reale,temo che l’eccessivo uso di tali mezzi possa causare un impoverimento della comunicazione stessa che potrebbe venire a soffrire della mancanza di apporto “umano”realmente utile ed efficace nella relazione con gli altri.Spero che Lei non consideri il comunicare via facebook,or twitter etc.piu’ efficace di un bel discorso a quattrocchi!

  2. aditya452010 says:

    All great ideas but I would also add another item to it: consider doing a virtual event/meeting. Virtual events and meetings are a great way to stay in front of customers, generate new leads and help close business already in the pipeline. These solutions are being deployed so rapidly by companies that the market is projected to exceed $18 billion by 2015. If you are interested in how you can use virtual environments attend the Virtual Edge Summit Feb. 22-23 (virtually or in-person if you are in/near Silicon Valley). There is no registration fee if you take a short survey.

    Virtual Edge Summit 2010 is the only event that focuses exclusively on providing education, training and solutions for planning and producing virtual events, meetings and communities. Over 2 days, 80 experts will share their experience with you, and be available for one-on-ones. The event also offers a rich program for featuring experts from Cisco, Stanford, IBM, Disney SAP, Oracle, Intel as well as top virtual technology and service providers like InXpo, ON24, 6Connex, Stream57, CGS VirtualEvents365, George P. Johnson, Unisfair and Digitell.

    When: February 22-23, 2010 8am until 6pm

    Where: At the Santa Clara Convention Center in California and virtually in browser based virtual environments offering 2D and 3D experiences.

    Register at

    • buzzmaster says:

      Wish I could attend, sounds like a great conference. I am speaking over those days otherwise would have tried to make it. Good luck with the conference. John

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: