Hosting a Twitter Chat is an excellent way to build avid followers, elevate your social media engagement, and position you and your company as an expert in your field. Once you have set up your Twitter profile, established a following, and are actively tweeting, retweeting, and replying with relevant content within the Twittersphere, take your Twitter account to the next level by hosting a Twitter Chat.
Ten Steps to Twitter Chat Success
- Participate. Before you host your own chat, participate in others. Take a backseat approach, familiarize yourself with the structure and see how others are doing it in your industry. To find relevant chats, comb through your news feed or search via relevant keyword hashtags and keep a log of what chats are occurring and when. Jump in. Examine how the Twitter chat works by paying special attention to how chat participants respond to each other and how the host engages with the attendees. You may also wet your feet by co-hosting, sponsoring, or being a featured guest on another party’s Twitter chat.
- Theme. Determine your objective. Your Twitter chat theme sets the stage on how you want to be positioned in the industry and helps you identify the key components to a successful chat. Who is your target market? What days and times are most optimal to your attendees? What topics would they like to discuss versus what you want to focus on? Make sure the theme is enticing to the audience you want to attract.
- Hashtag. Develop a concise hashtag that resonates with your audience, conveys your overall chat theme, and, ideally, is not already in use. Research existing Twitter chats to determine the optimal hashtag. Then BRAND it as your own. This hashtag reinforces your brand and can minimize the instances of Twitter chat crashers who may inadvertently attend your chat thinking it’s another.
- Save the Date. Based on your ideal attendees, determine how often you’ll host your chat, and whether a specific date and time of day works best. Will it be weekly or bi-monthly? Will each chat be 30 minutes or 60 minutes? Does it coincide with other popular chats? Once a date and time has been determined, schedule your chats with consistency to better establish a loyal Twitter chat following. Other questions to ask are: What will be your format? Will you be the sole host or will you have co-hosts or guest hosts?
- Schedule. With your overall theme in mind, create and schedule topics for each session to create an overall calendar. This will better enable you to flag and piggyback off key industry events, holidays, and company news. Draw from past, present, and future experiences and trends. If you’re tackling a challenging subject, consider whether it could make for a good Twitter chat topic. Chat audiences often are grappling with similar issues and your chat could provide an opportune time for both parties to brainstorm and find new solutions. Schedule your topics with your internal team.
- Promote. Promote, promote, promote! As great as your topics are, people cannot attend your chat if they do not know about it. Promote your chat via all channels: Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks, email, company website, blogs, and more. On Twitter, create a Twitter chat “preview” by teasing your audience with the subject theme. In addition, develop a list of top industry experts and invite them via a direct message (DM) or “@” reply. Encourage retweets of your chat invitation. To boost your promotion, create a Twitter chat invitation image that provides an overall branding for your chat with more visual appeal.
- Plan. Once your overall schedule has been defined, it’s time to delve into the details. For each topic, draft eight to ten questions that will engage the audience. Create lively questions that illicit more than a yes/no response and can spark valuable discussions. Post your hashtag, chat image, and questions on Facebook for cross promotion.
- Lead. Effectively host your chat by making sure that you and your audience use the #hashtag. Utilize a service, such as TweetChat, which automatically adds the hashtag and creates a running stream of the chat conversation. Keep attendees actively tweeting. Ask follow-up questions and comment positively. Reply, retweet, and favorite their tweets. Pay close attention to newcomers and those who are not tweeting as much as others. They may need a helping hand. Don’t let them sit on the Twitter chat sideline. Like a grand party, the host makes everyone feel welcome.
- Thank. Everyone knows the phrase “time is money.” Your participants are taking a chunk out of their day to chat with you and fellow chat participants. Make sure to recognize their time and contributions. Invite them to the next chat and tweet to them often! Consistency and two-way engagement are key in developing a loyal following.
- Assess. Analyze your chat, attendees, strength of questions and answers. TweetBinder is a handy platform that encapsulates your Twitter Chat statistics. Identify areas for improvement. Tweak your next chat as needed. Repeat these steps for each new chat.
ZirconTools hosts its own #diytrends chat every other Thursday. Catch our upcoming one on Thursday, May 21 at 11 a.m. PST. You’re invited! Learn, share and engage with us!
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