9 Tips for Hosting a Twitter Chat
November 21, 2016
As a marketer, I’m always looking for creative and effective ways to get my clients more exposure. Even if a brand has found their “groove” in a particular marketing channel, it’s important to try new ways of leveraging common tools to grow brand presence and increase revenue. One of the tactics that I’ve grown to love is the Twitter chat. While Twitter chats are certainly nothing new, they’re an often overlooked tactic that can actually lead to significant growth on social media. Below are some tips for successfully hosting your first Twitter chat.
- Do Your Research
If you’re thinking about hosting a twitter chat, one of the first things that you need to do is research and have a deep understanding of the interests of your target audience. The only way that an online discussion on any platform, especially Twitter, will be successful is if people are genuinely interested in the topic. For example, a car insurance company hosting a chat on different policy options probably isn’t going to go well. A car insurance company hosting a chat on unique tips and tricks for road trips will most likely be better received. When choosing the topic for your chat, it’s important to make sure it is broad enough to appeal to a wider audience, but relevant enough to your brand that participants will able to build association with it.
- Schedule a Time
This sounds straightforward but choosing the best time to host your Twitter chat isn’t just about checking our your own calendar. Use Twitter’s analytics dashboard to understand the days and times when your followers are most active. It’s important to keep these in mind when scheduling your chat so that you can optimize engagement and reach. Just because you’re free on Friday night doesn’t mean your consumers and other influencers are.
- Find Influencers to Amplify Your Message
The whole purpose behind a Twitter chat is to get your message, your product or your brand in front of a new audience. While you certainly could rely on your followers to share or retweet some of your content, chances are that engagement will be pretty limited. As part of the planning process, identify social media influencers within your niche who would be able to take part in the chat as well. Getting other influencers on board can expand your reach exponentially and help you tap into a customer base that was previously out of reach.
It’s important to dedicate time to this step in the planning process, as not everyone you reach out to will hop onboard to help you promote your brand. Recognize that you’ll need to reach out to a handful of individuals. And when you do, make sure you show them the benefits they’ll be reaping from participation, rather than framing the focus on your own business.
- Choose Your Hashtag Carefully
The hashtag is the most central part of the twitter chat and will be associated with your brand and your product during the chat (and beyond). Therefore, it’s important to choose carefully. Choose a hashtag that is easy to remember and relatively short – remember, characters are precious on Twitter. Once you narrow down some options, do some searches to make sure the term is not already associated with another company, or worse yet, tied to offensive slang. Take note from these twitter hashtag fails and don’t find yourself in the same position.
- Promote. Promote.
Hosting a successful twitter chat doesn’t just requiring signing on when the chat is taking place. Promotion of the event, just like any live event, is important as well. Prepare a press release announcing the topic, date and time of the chat. You can also share the news with your email subscribers and your followers on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Lastly, leverage Google+ by posting about the chat in relevant Google+ groups. These items can significantly increase participation and engagement.
- Don’t Wing It
By the time the twitter chat gets going, things really move at lightning pace. That’s why its best to make sure that you’ve prepared the questions that will be part of the chat, as well as some answers, ahead of time. Share these questions with the influencers who’ve signed on to participate so they can be informed as well. This will help the chat flow well and help to avoid any confusion. Of course, it’s also important to organically engage in conversation as it arises in the chat. Don’t simply put your answers on autopilot and take a lunch break.
- Don’t overdo it.
You’d be surprised how fast an hour can go by. Trying to fit too many questions or too much content into the chat can stunt the flow of the chat and abruptly end conversations and topics that could blossom into more. A good rule of thumb is to release a question every 8-10 minutes. So, if you’ve allotted 1 hour for the chat, prepare 6-7 main talking points to cover.
- Engage – like, share & retweet posts
By nature “chats” can’t be one-sided. It’s important to make sure that you engage with the Twitter chat participants, by commenting on their tweets, re-tweeting and liking their posts. This not only makes the consumer feel recognized and appreciated by the brand, but helps to keep the conversations going, even after the chat has officially commenced. It’s yet another opportunity to connect with your target audience and get your name in front of new followers.
Now that you’ve successfully hosted a Twitter chat, it’s important to capitalize on the things learned and the connections made during the chat. Follow-up with some of the most engaged chat participants and offer them further incentive to connect with your brand, perhaps a free product sample or a discount on their next order. At the end of the day, individuals like recognition and appreciate being paid attention to. Following up to thank the user or offer incentive can leave a great brand impression and help you gain a lifelong customer.
Next time you’re looking for a unique way to earn some additional followers and interact with your audience base, consider a Twitter chat. And, if you’re a seasoned chat host yourself, share some of your own tricks and tips in the comments below!