Twitter chats are ideal for brands. That is, unless organic promotion, providing helpful advice for your customers, establishing your brand name in the industry, and building a loyal follower base isn’t really your thing. The best part? Setting up a Twitter chat is really easy and more importantly, free! All you need is a set date, a theme, and a unique hashtag. A great reason to make them part of your regular social media marketing activities.
But a successful Twitter chat doesn’t happen by accident. Getting a high level of community engagement requires a little bit of preparation. Here’s everything you need to know about running the Twitter chat everyone wants to be at.
1. Pick Relevant Themes Your Community Care About
It’s no good starting a conversation about football if everyone wants to talk basketball, so don’t do the same thing for your Twitter chats. You need to focus the chat around a topic that your audience are going to want to talk about. For inspiration, look at what your community is saying, listen to the things they want help with, or what your most popular blogs were. Once you’ve got some topics, create a page on your website of what you’ll be talking about and when, including details of any special guests who may be joining.
2. Consider Inviting Industry Experts To Co-Host
An independent industry expert as a featured guest will be able to add a significant level of insight, entice more people to the chat, and help to give greater credibility to the chat. Make sure you promote their appearance in advance. You could even give details of why they are such a useful fountain of knowledge that your community should be bathing in.
— Buffer (@buffer) June 24, 2014
3. Be Consistent With The Details
How often would you catch your favorite TV show if it was on at a different time every week, with a different name and you had to guess when it would be on? Probably not as much as you would if it were the same channel, day, and time. If your chat isn’t a one-off, it’s best to stick to a set time, day, and hashtag so people know when to expect it and can fit it into their routine if they become fond of it. If you’re unsure when to hold your chat, you can discover your Best Time To Tweet for your community as a whole, or for specific segments using a tool such as SocialBro. Also, check that nobody else is already using your chat’s hashtag!
4. Set The Level Of Advice
Nobody wants to feel out of their depth, but at the same time nobody wants to set aside an hour of their week to be told novice level stuff they already know. That’s no fun. In advance of your chat, decide whether it will be beginner, intermediate, or expert level. Include these details (maybe even color code them) wherever you list your upcoming chats.
5. Use A Tool To Help Organize The Chat.
If your chat is particularly lively it may be difficult to keep up with all that’s going on using Twitter’s browser platform alone. A tool such as Tweetdeck or a chat platform such as Nurph can help you to monitor the chat, reply, and keep up to speed with what’s happening in real time, among other things.
6. Share The Best Bits To Promote The Chat
The choice chunks of wisdom or insight that come up in a good chat may be useful to your followers who aren’t involved. By quoting or retweeting these posts you keep non-chatters in the loop and at the same time, hopefully encourage people to get involved with your chat to find out more. It also demonstrates that you’re paying attention to what’s being said, that you’re interested in your community, and you’re committed to listening to them.
7. Avoid Hard Selling
Ever been to an event that looked like it could be cool, but turned out to be a sales pitch? It’s boring, so don’t subject your followers to it. A Twitter chat is not the time or the place to heavily push sales of your product, it adds no value to a conversation and people may decide not to come back. You’re doing this to build your social community and engage with people who may be interested in your brand. Staying on people’s radars is the aim of the game.
8. Sum Up The Conversation
Not everybody is going to be able to make your Twitter chat. You don’t want them to miss out completely, do you? Save the best responses to your questions and pop them into a Storify and/or create a blog out of them.
9. Find And Connect With Users Joining The Chat
Putting your chat hashtag into a Twitter analytics tool such as SocialBro will allow you to see who took part in the chat and discover the key unifying interests among them, that can help you to keep them interested in the next chat as well. You can also discover the most influential members of the chat, and look at contacting them for further involvement if they have a real social clout among your target audience. This potentially unlocks thousands more people who may want to join in with your Twitter chat and increase their awareness of your brand.
10. Use The Chat To Inspire Content Ideas
A Twitter chat doesn’t have to be a static event, it can be used to inform your content strategy going forward. What caused the most debate? What did the majority of people want to know? What points were made that you’d never heard before? All of these questions could be used to inspire future blogs, infographics, future chats, seminars, or interviews.
11. Reward The Champion Chatters
Take the time to celebrate the people who make the chat click. The best Tweet of the week could win a prize, regular contributors could receive small gifts for their continued support. Examples of prizes could be a book by the guest, a voucher of some sort, or a month free usage of your service. It doesn’t have to cost much, but it lets your community know you appreciate them.
12. Have A Familiar Face
While your chat should be run by your primary account, it doesn’t do any harm to have a couple of people from your team regularly partaking in the chat where appropriate. They can tease more detailed answers out of people, provide positive feedback to newbies and regular contributors, help to keep the conversation flowing, and give your brand a human presence.
These tips should help to make your chats a more engaging experience for your community, and ultimately more successful for you. Have you hosted a Twitter chat before? How did it go? What advice do you have to share? Let us know in the comments below, we look forward to hearing from you.