What is the #CollabTalk TweetJam?

If you’ve just started following this blog or my social profiles (@buckleyplanet), you’ve probably seen all of my #CollabTalk posts and wondered to yourself: “What is the #CollabTalk TweetJam?

Here’s the short version: it’s a monthly community discussion on Twitter that focuses on various collaboration topics, and that anyone can join.

The long version

In January 2012 I had an idea: as the Chief Evangelist for a leading SharePoint ISV (Axceler), I wanted to create a vendor-neutral, community-based discussion around the hot topics of the day. I’ve always had friends and acquaintances across the Microsoft ecosystem, including within all of our competitors. The idea was to host the discussion on Twitter so that it was open and transparent to everyone participating — and allowed for anyone to jump into the conversation. At the time, I had a fairly large network of contacts that I could invite to the discussion, and I had just surpassed 200 videos in my “One Thing” series in which I asked MVPs and community members to share “the one thing that people need to know about SharePoint.” With that first event, I didn’t keep the records that I do today, so I can’t tell you who participated or what we discussed, but based on the output — great discussion, dozens of ideas for new content, and a fresh perspective on the topic at hand — I decided to make it a monthly event.

Over the next 2-3 years, I experimented with the model, including:

  • Changing the time of day, and day of week
  • Changing the number of questions asked
  • Trying small panels (10-15 people) versus large panels (40-50 people)
  • Simulcasting the tweetjam alongside a live stream video (I can walk and chew gum, but sitting and typing does not make good video)
  • Scheduling multiple tweetjams in a single week (we did 5 tweetjams in 5 days for one Microsoft Ignite event, then 3 in a row the following year)
  • Attempted to do live video interviews, asking the in-studio person the same questions that were being tweeted (see previous comment on what makes a good video)
  • Worked with paid sponsors on targeted topics (they could influence questions, but every tweetjam has always remained independent/neutral)

What we landed on is now the template that we’ve followed for at least the last 5 or 6 years:

  • Always at 9am Pacific (sorry APAC, but your participation was always meager when we experimented with times)
  • Usually on Tue/Wed/Thur unless some other event/circumstances forces us to move to a Mon or Fri
  • Always 7 questions asked. This is just the magic number for us: fewer questions seems to lag, more questions don’t give people enough time to respond
  • I have canned instructions that I share every month to help newbies get up to speed, and to remind panelists on how to behave
  • We have stuck with a monthly cadence, allowing us to cover important topics of the day. I’m not sure I’ll try the multiple tweetjam schedule again (but never say never)

About the sponsorships

I’m grateful to have the ongoing support of both tyGraph and AvePoint. AvePoint was a paid sponsor a few times over the years (along with Microsoft, Colligo, Exclaimer, KanBo, the SharePoint Conference, Commsverse, and several others), but now that I have joined the company, their sponsorship means that I have their support and promotional help. Actually, AvePoint is super-supportive of the community activities for all of our employees, which is a major reason why I worked with them as a client, and why I ultimately joined the company last year.

tyGraph (made by UnlimitedViz) has been directly involved for 6 or 7 years (or longer). Fellow MVP and CTO John White (@diverdown1964) had been participating regularly in the tweetjams since the early days. After each event, I would write up a blog summary and share some metrics and charts that were provided by a paid social measurement tool. It wasn’t expensive — maybe $25-40 each month, depending on the size of the data — but it was out of pocket. And then the vendor I was using tripled their prices while also reducing functionality. I shared my frustrations with John, and after a quick look at the reports I was paying for, he told me “I can do that.” And then he built it. And then he expanded it into what is now the tyGraph for Twitter solution, which you can purchase for detailed social stats for any online or in-person event you host.

Since then, tyGraph has been the one continuous sponsor of the CollabTalk TweetJams, and I am grateful for their support and participation (and really encourage you to go take a look at their tyGraph for Twitter tool, as well as their Microsoft 365 offerings).

Benefits of participating

The big question people want to know when they hear that I’ve been hosting these monthly events for almost a decade is “What are you getting out of all of this?

I guess you could say that I am a collaboration fanatic: I am passionate about the technology that enables collaboration and information management systems, I am fascinated by the social/behavioural impacts of these technologies on information workers, business/project teams, and corporate culture (I almost pursued a PhD on this topic), and at the end of the day, I am an extravert and have a “connector” personality. Running a monthly event that focuses on collaboration and discusses the impacts, while associating/connecting with people from all over the world hits every button for me.

From a more quantitative perspective, these events each month:

  • Provide me with at least 10-12 ideas for blog posts, feature-length articles, ebooks or videos
  • Keep me in touch with thought-leaders and influencers within the community
  • Introduce me to new people, companies, and products/services
  • Allow me to shares my ideas and promote my content
  • Generate inquiries about my content and/or my company

In January 2022, we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the #CollabTalk TweetJam — and I’m looking forward to 10 more years (will Twitter still exist in a decade?). If you have not yet joined one of these community discussions, join us tomorrow, September 22nd at 9am Pacific as we discuss The Evolution of Community,” or block out the time to join us October 20th at 9am PT as we cover Staying Productive in a Multi-Tenant, Multi-Cloud World.

Subscribe to the blog or check back regularly for the post that outlines the questions + our panel of experts. To join the discussion, just log into Twitter and search for the latest #CollabTalk hashtag mentions, and refresh regularly. It’ll be the fastest hour-long ever you’ll ever attend as hundreds of tweets fly by. Don’t let the pace scare you off — it’s highly engaging, informative, and a lot of fun.

Hope to see you tomorrow!

Christian Buckley

Christian is the Microsoft GTM Director for AvePoint Inc., and a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He hosts the AvePoint Office 365 Hours (#O365hours) series, monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the #CollabTalk Podcast, and leads the monthly Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) live stream. He is based in Lehi, Utah (Silicon Slopes).