I’ll admit it, when I first got onto Twitter, I was intimidated. But, I embraced it. I wanted to know what all the hype was about, so I dedicated myself to tweeting. It didn’t take long before I was lurking on Twitter chats, following the conversation without participating myself. When I sat down to participate in my first Twitter chat, I was nervous. It was scary enough just saying anything on Twitter for anyone to see, much less participating in a group of experts on a topic.
Through participating in chats, I’ve learned a lot. Moderators and other participants are a great way to crowd source relevant and reliable information. Setting up your own chat is one way to show your expertise and prove your brand is an industry leader while promoting your social media presence.
What is a Twitter chat
A Twitter chat is a group of people tweeting together on the same topic at the same time using a hashtag. There is typically a moderator presenting questions to those following the chat (via the chosen hashtag), and tweeters respond to the questions and to each other.
Twitter chats typically last for one hour. If the conversation is really flowing, they can go longer (without specific, moderated questions).
How to set up a Twitter chat
Pick a topic
You want to be relevant to your industry without duplicating an existing chat. Pick something you know a lot about and your followers will be excited to tweet about. What answers can you provide? What pain points can you smooth over?
Pick a time and date
There are a lot of Twitter chats out there. Make sure you aren’t overlapping another chat that your same audience is interested in, or starting up right before or after. You’ll get better attendance at yours if there is no conflict, and avoiding that conflict is just plain courteous. If you aren’t sure what time is good, ask your followers.
Create a unique hashtag
You’re going to need a hashtag. Create a hashtag that meets the following criteria:
- Easy to remember and type
The hashtag will be used in every tweet during your chat, so you don’t want it taking up too many characters or be complicated. Be sure no one else is using your hashtag; it needs to be unique.
Create a list of question
Ten questions should easily take tweeters through an hour-long conversation. These ten questions are just to get things going, you’ll want to keep up and add in additional questions and comments as the conversation flows.
Let your followers know you’re hosting a Twitter chat. You’ll want to use cross promotion, talk about it on all your channels. Find out who’s already talking about your topic on Twitter and personally invite them to share their ideas in your chat.
Twitter chat etiquette
If you’re running a Twitter chat, be sure you are prepared to be online monitoring and responding to conversation for the full time. Don’t let batteries on devices die or fail to respond to tweets. You should be fully engaged, asking follow up questions, adding comments, and retweeting throughout the whole chat.
I recommend having additional moderators to help you keep up. There are also tools that can help you keep on top of the conversation.
As you ask questions, be sure to start with Q1:, Q2: etc so that it’s easy to distinguish where the new topic questions are in the tweet feed. Ask participant to retweet the questions to be sure everyone sees them.
When people join your chat, greet them. Ask them to introduce themselves to the group. Thank everyone for coming at the end, and encourage them to share contact info. You don’t want people to self-promote during your chat, but it is a good way to make connections with like minded professionals, so do encourage people to share how they can be reached outside of Twitter as the chat is wrapping up.
Twitter chat examples
If you’re still not sure what to do, the best way to learn is by lurking on some people doing it really well. Check out these chats:
- #SEOChat a discussion about improving search engine optimization
- #LinkedInChat a discussion about all things LinkedIn
- #blogchat a discussion about business, professional and personal blogging
- #socialchat a discussion about social media with a different guest each week
- #smmanners a discussion about bringing back civility to online communication
Twitter chats bring tweeters together on a specific topic from all around the world. Chatting on Twitter will connect you to a community of thought leaders interested in learning more and driving conversations. They can be a great place to learn from others as a participant or to show yourself an expert in your industry.
Are you into Twitter chats? Which are your favorites? If you’re not into Twitter chats, I say join in! It’s lively engaging conversation. You have a lot to gain.