Twitter as chatroom – Growing Bolder’s experiences

In a guest post, Katy Widrick of Growing Bolder talks about how they used Twitter to create a live chat aimed at the 50+ demographic

Six months ago, if you asked me about all the ways I try and spread the message about Growing Bolder, I would have listed some well-known tools: Digg, Facebook, e-mail campaigns, etc. The name Twitter wouldn’t have appeared on the list, and to be honest – I probably couldn’t have told you what it really was, or the best way to use it.

Today, it’s a different story, and the rise of Twitter is itself a story in viral marketing success. 

The company I work for, Growing Bolder, is – among many things – a social networking Web site, with one major asset that sets it apart from all of the others … content. Our staff is made up of former TV news employees, and we are, in a nutshell, storytellers. But instead of the 6pm news, our platform is the Internet.

So, to that end, we heartily embrace all of the tools that are at our disposal. Here’s what we’re doing with Twitter.

Because Growing Bolder is targeted to the active-lifestyle, 50+ demographic, we all have a keen interest in news that affects that audience, and a desire to stay up-to-date on stories that our members and friends are talking about. In brainstorming ways to reach out and help smash stereotypes about the age wave, we decided to start a think tank – independent of but coordinated through Growing Bolder. The best think tanks include people of various backgrounds, ages, and interests, and where could we find a better group than on Twitter?

We started a Twitter account called The Age of Opportunity, and asked people to join us on a Thursday night to talk about everything from entertainment and media to health, sports and more, all through the 50+ prism. We sent out tweets, e-mails and more to get the word out. We held our breath, and signed on for the first live chat. What happened?

The Good:


  • People not only came to the chat, they participated in a stunning way! We were prepared to moderate the discussion as needed, but the community did an amazing job of keeping the conversation going, even though many were “meeting” for the first time in the chat. There were life coaches, health experts, bloggers and more, representing different age groups, countries and more.
  • The Age of Opportunity Chat, or #ageop, quickly became one of the hottest and fastest-growing trends on Twitter on its debut night. People from all over saw the hashtag being used to filter #ageop tweets, and many came into the chat room just to see what the buzz was about!
  • Tools like and make it easier for people to take part in the chat because they filter out any tweets that are unrelated to #ageop.


The Not-as-Good:


  • Because Twitter is still a relatively new tool, and many of the users don’t fully understand the technology, there is quite a bit of explanation and teaching needed to help people who want to chat, but are afraid of jumping in. I think that as more people get involved, the less of a challenge this will be.
  • It can be tough to share information in only 140 characters, so we’re working to get other contact details for the people who take part in the chats. But since there’s no Twitter directory (yet!) this is proving to be difficult. Spreading the word about upcoming chats, letting people know about updates times/topics, etc. would be easier with a directory.
  • The speed of the chat! Not that we’re complaining, because the goal of #ageop is to foster discussion and meaningful conversations, but we’re finding that it can be difficult to keep track of questions, topics, etc.


The biggest lesson that we’ve learned, and continue to learn, is that you need to show up to the chat with a plan, but be nimble and ready to change that plan at a moment’s notice. We have now had three live chats, and each one has included different people, different topics, and has ended with big ideas for the future! Those plans include:


  • A weekly blog carnival or meme. This week, we posted this question: “The internet is the greatest bridge ever built. If only we will cross it.” Anyone who makes a blog post or tweet about the topic will be included in the Age of Opportunity Chat archives, found at
  • Charity outreach or fundraising campaign.
  • Guest hosts to answer live questions, lead the discussion.
  • Using video and live streaming tools.


For more information, go to, follow at, or e-mail me:


3 thoughts on “Twitter as chatroom – Growing Bolder’s experiences

  1. Pingback: Why the ‘New Facebook Pages’ means you can now forget about Twitter : Kasper Sørensen

  2. Pingback: Twitter as Chatroom - Growing Bolder's Experiences - Growing Bolder

  3. Pingback: Twitter as Chatroom — Growing Bolder’s Experiences - Growing Bolder

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