But along the way I have learned some lessons. Very valuable lessons that I take with me into each brand new party I prepare for. I thought I would share them in case you want to start hosting these parties yourself.
1) Have clear guidelines on how people can win prizes.
This was a lesson learned the hard way. My very first party someone called me out towards the end that I had contradictory rules on my blog post about how people win prizes. I was imagining a sudden stampede of angry people at my door demanding a redo of the entire party when that happened. I apologized and explained this would be fixed. All was well, but I realized I couldn't let this happen again.
So as you are describing rules on how people can win prizes, make sure they are clear! Do people need to RSVP? Do they follow you and someone else? What people aren't eligible? Make sure that is obvious on wherever you are announcing the party.
2) Choose a short hashtag.
This may not seem like a big deal, but hashtags are imperative to a successful twitter party! Everyone will be using them too - you, the author (or company you are promoting), the participants, etc. With each tweet, a hashtags must be added to tweets so people can follow along the party and see all the tweets of whoever has joined in.
So if you have a long hashtag, let's say about 15 characters, that's taking up a lot of tweet space. And you want enough characters left on twitter to promote, ask questions, announce prizes, etc. Make sure you select a hashtag that is unique, but short enough so it gives you room to say what you want to say.
3) Simplify how people reach you for prizes.
I once asked people to PM (private mail) the author on Twitter if they have won a prize. This wasn't a mistake exactly, but people kept asking me if the author could follow them so they can send their info. This caused confusion and way too much back and forth. I've also tried asking people to send me emails and that ended up with me continuously checking if people emailed (some said they did, but I never got an email).
I've simplified it now so people people PM their necessary information to me and I send it all to the author at the end so they can easily send out prizes. It isn't always perfect but it sure is less of a headache than many other scenarios I have tried.
4) Try all kinds of promotional methods for your Twitter party event.
You'd be very surprised about the ways you can promote your Twitter Party! There's twitter party calendars you can list on. There's social media promotion. There's sending messages to your email subscribers. You can trade favors will fellow bloggers and friends to help you promote your party. You can send tweets to people who have participated in the past. Tweet people who RSVP'd early before the event starts in case they forget.
But attempt only one method of promotion and you won't have much attention at all. This was also a lesson learned the hard way when I naively thought I didn't need to do THAT much extra promotion leg work. Well, I did need to and it wasn't a successful event (at least not in my opinion). So put in the extra effort and it will pay off.
5) Be prepared. For anything.
I always plan my tweets in advance and since twitter parties can move fast this preparation saves me plenty of headaches.
But because of how my twitter parties work, I invite people to ask authors questions! This sometimes results in someone taking one of my prepared questions, which creates difficulties on my part as I scramble with a new question to replace the one I had prepared. So my advice here is to prepare things in advance. I have extra questions to ask in case this happens and always try to do digging on the author's previous interviews to see if I can find something unique to ask.
Overall, twitter parties can be a successful and fun way to promote your company or your book. There are a lot big social media companies out there who will do this for you and create all the buzz you need, but if you are trying a DIY approach on marketing your book, you may want to keep these tips in mind.