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Twinterviews: How To Conduct An Interview On Twitter

10 Aug 2012
By Eleanor

Why conduct a Twinterview? Working on the premise that social media starts with giving people things they like, Twinterviews tick every ‘like’ box we could think of. They deliver exclusive information. They are new enough to be exciting as a format in themselves. Unlike normal interviews, they pose challenges to the twinterviewee of brevity (140 characters…) and the pressure of a real-time twitter feed. Move over, Jeremy Paxman. Twinterviews make people think on their feet, and don’t allow space for waffle. This snappy format generates a good deal of humour, something else people tend to like. Twitter users can put their own questions to the expert, hero or celebrity being twinterviewed. In return for their interaction and engagement, they might receive valuable advice, insightful opinions, or a juicy piece of gossip.

Fun aside, tangible benefits of running a Twinterview include an increased social media following, which can be translated either to hits to your site and/or greater awareness of your brand. Page Ranking brownie points will surely follow. On top of the great publicity Twinterviews provide in the Twitter world, they produce exclusive, original publicity material that can be recycled for use elsewhere, whether this is on your main site, on Facebook, in a newsletter or even in print.

What is a Twinterview?

‘Twinterview’ is a portmanteau of ‘twitter interview’, for the etymologically challenged.  It’s an interview that takes place over Twitter.

How To Set Up A Twinterview

First, find a twinterviewee. There are many ways of doing this. You can look for a high profile figure within your field. Celebrities, writers, musicians, and CEOs are all fair game. If there’s no obvious person to approach, ask your social media followers who they’d like to hear from, by asking outright or setting up a poll. You’re ticking the engagement box straightaway, and getting your research done for you.

Once you’ve got your twinterviewee, ensure that they have a decent Twitter following, otherwise your best efforts will be in vain. You should also make sure that they are competent tweeters. A large following does not always translate across to twiteracy. A quick glance should tell you what you need to know:

A Twinterview is no place for a rookie. Sorry Dr Who.

This is true of any interview, but bear in mind that a focus to your twinterview is important, whether this is an upcoming event, the release of an album or book, or a current (trending?) topic.

Some things you may not know about Twitter

  • Peak times are lunchtimes, early evenings, and weekends. Schedule your Twinterview at these times for optimal reach.
  • You need to use a unique hashtag for each Twinterview. This makes the Twinterview searchable. A failsafe formula is to use the twinterviewee’s surname plus ‘qa’ i.e. if Serge Brin was the twinterviewee, #brinqa (we can dream).
  • Your twinterviewee needs to know three very important things:
  1. to use the hashtag in every tweet
  2. to reply to questions from your Twitter account only, or things get messy quickly
  3. to use a ‘.’ before your Twitter handle when replying e.g. .@atom42. This opens up the twitter conversation which is otherwise automatically classed as ‘private’ and only shared with those who already follow both you and the twinterviewee. Read more on this trick here.


To get the ball rolling, publicise your upcoming twinterview on Twitter, Facebook, and any other outlets available to you and your twinterviewee prior to the event. Don’t forget to invite questions in your publicity tweets from the Twitter public. Make sure they know to use the hashtag.

Conducting the Twinterview

The simplest way to conduct a twinterview is over Tweetdeck. You’ll need to set up the following lists:

  1. Your own interactions feed where the conversation will take place
  2. Live hashtag search: for tweets using your chosen hashtag to catch incoming questions from the twitter public
  3. Your twinterviewee’s twitter feed in case you miss something/they forget to use the hashtag or your handle (= social media disaster)
  4. Optional: an extra column where you can check the main twitter feed for hashtag trends etc

Publish with Storify

The story doesn’t end with your final tweet. Storify is a simple tool that collates and publishes the Twitter transcript for use beyond the twittosphere. Once you’ve set up an account with Storify, click ‘create story’ to begin. Select ‘Twitter’ from the media sources. Search twitter by user or hashtag and then simply drag and drop tweets from your feed in order of time ascending or descending into the Storify box. Add a title and a description, click ‘Publish’ and send out your storified twinterview to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, WordPress and more.

Users can ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on your twinterview in Storify, and your twinterview can now be exported, embedded, shared, and read outside the clutter of the twitter feed. It could even be published in a newspaper or magazine… but maybe check with your twinterviewee first. Last but not least, don’t forget Twitter’s golden rule: tweet others as you would like to be tweeted.

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