A Twitter chat is a real-time discussion where Twitter users tweet about the same topic or event using the same hashtag (#) for a designated timeframe. Not only are Twitter chats a great way to promote your brand or business, they also allow you to engage with new and existing consumers in a meaningful way, connect with influencers in your field, and establish your brand as a leader around a particular topic.
The cool thing about a Twitter chat is that anyone from around the world can join. The premise of the Twitter chat is simple; the moderator begins discussion by asking participants questions built around the topic. However, like any promotional or marketing strategy, you want to make sure you’re getting the biggest reach, engagement, and best results as possible.
We came up with six tips to make sure your Twitter chat is a success.
Most Twitter chats last 30–60 minutes. The topic and anticipated number of participants can affect the amount of time you schedule for your chat. If there are a smaller number of participants, you may not need an entire hour. If the topic has a lot of substance, the chat might run over an hour. However, be careful not to touch upon too much in one chat—oversharing information can hurt the focus of the discussion. You also want to be mindful of your participant’s time. You can always schedule more or have an ongoing series.
Choose a timeframe when your followers are most active. Make sure your target demographic is able to participate during the designated timeframe. Take into account time zones and work and school schedules.
Structure Your Chat
Successful Twitter chats have a seamless flow and are easy for participants to follow and engage. The components you want to include are: topic introduction, moderator and participant introductions (depending on the size of the chat), question and answers, summary, call-to-action, and conclusion.
You should spend about 5–10 minutes on each question, depending on the length of your chat. Don’t spend too much time on one question; move on to another if participants are less engaged with a particular question. It is the moderator’s responsibility to keep a consistent flow.
Summarize main points throughout the Twitter chat. It goes by quick, there is a lot of information being presented, and participants may join the chat late. It is also nice to highlight great questions or comments from participants.
Crafting thoughtful, engaging questions are important to the success of your Twitter chat. The purpose of the chat is not only to educate participants but also to generate excitement around a topic. Pictures, GIFs, short videos, and other forms of rich media make for great sharable content.
Mark questions clearly with the letter “Q” followed by the question number, example: Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. Encourage participants to answer questions using the same format, but instead using A1, A2, A3, etc.
Prior to the start of your Twitter chat, draft canned answers to common questions so you are not spending a lot of time coming up with responses during the chat. Anything can be asked during a live chat; however, you should be able to respond to most of the questions quickly through preparation and having sources on hand. You may not have time to get to every question. Focus on those that provide the most benefit to the entire group and connect with participants after the chat if you were unable to get to their question. To stimulate conversation, before the chat, arrange for specific participants to answer specific questions. This is especially helpful for your first few chats and keeping the discussion focused.
Promote and Prepare
Even with a large following, you’ll want to prepare and promote your Twitter chat. If you have never hosted one before, it is a good idea to participate in a few first. You can host your own Twitter chat or use a moderator. If a moderator has a big following, they can bring in more participants. Just make sure they are fully briefed on the topic’s content, and have a few people from your organization, separate from the moderator, assisting with questions and engaging with participants.
Make sure your hashtag is brief, clear, and catchy—it’s going to be used over and over again throughout the chat and the promotion period. If you can, relate the hashtag back to your brand, company, or product. Make sure participants are aware of the hashtag and are using it in their responses. Unless responding to you directly, the hashtag is the only way to track the discussion.
For a more successful chat, don’t solely promote on Twitter—promote the chat on other social media platforms, blogs, podcasts, and newsletters. Personally invite influential people within your niche. Make sure everyone at your company or organization is aware of the Twitter chat. Employees are a great source for promotion. After the chat is over, use all of the great content to retweet and share throughout your social media platforms and other marketing channels.
Be a Good Host
Just like in person, you want to be a great host to your guests. Introduce yourself, your topic, key participants or influencers, and—if you have a smaller chat—your participants. Avoid overpromoting your business or products. The purpose of the Twitter chat is to share knowledge about a topic.
Throughout the chat, make sure you are liking comments, sharing resources, and connecting participants. Using one or two assistants will make it easier to promptly respond to questions, engage with participants, and keep up with the flow of the chat. Follow up with participants afterwards. Like any posts you may have missed during the chat and search the hashtag regularly for a week after the chat to keep the conversation going.
Most importantly, have fun and let your brand personality show. This is your chance to bring your company or organization to life and connect with consumers on a more personal level. Show your participants why they should care about the topic or event you are promoting. People want to engage with brands that are more personable and support common interests.
Like any social media strategy, the more time and effort you put into your Twitter chat, the better your results will be. After the chat, take advantage of your metrics. Analyze the content and discussions that received the most engagement to make your chat an even bigger success the next time around. Use these tips and you’re on your way to hosting a buzz worthy Twitter chat!