Sun Media's national media manager Monique Beech shares some of her tips for live blogging and keeping readers engaged. 

By Monique Beech, national community manager for Sun Media 

It’s a dreaded fear among us digital types who try to engage readers by doing live events or live chats on our websites: The fear that NOBODY will ask a question or make a comment. I’ll admit there have been a few times that I’ve filled an hour virtually talking to myself, rambling on (live blog style) and adding videos and polls in a desperate attempt to fill the time. As a colleague of mine would say, CRICKETS, is the worst.

Luckily, I’ve learned from my chat successes and failures using Scribblelive,our liveblogging platform. I thought I’d share a few tips with you.

1. Pick a good topic.This sounds obvious but it can be hard sometimes to find the right issue to really grab readers. Topics that are timely (i.e. current events, wildly popular TV show), universal (i.e. shared experiences, such as weather, traffic) tend to work. Open topics that a lot of people tend to like (i.e. wine, music, movies) have also worked well for us here at Sun Media’s national online desk.

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2. Bring in guests. Including experts gives credibility to your chat and increases the likelihood of people asking questions. 

3. Set it up early. Give yourself time to write a catchy intro. Be sure to clearly explain how people can participate. i.e.) Comment below, custom Scribblelive email, hashtag. 

4. Promote it. Talk about it on Twitter, Facebook, etc., post it to your website in advance so people know the event is coming up. Give it a plug in print.

5. Make it easy for people to participate. I like to give people several ways to participate, including through the live blog widget, email and Twitter. The more ways they can give involved the more uptake you’ll have.

This column was originally published on Monique's Morning Minute

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.