The micro-blogging social network, Twitter, is famous for its 140-character limit. At the beginning, its detractors claimed it was a network where people shared information of little value. Twitter has played a major role in crisis communication, breaking news, and customer service. We’d like to teach YOU to harness the power of Twitter to build your brand through a fast paced, engaging, and diverse Twitterchat.
Twitterchats are conversations managed through Twitter, identified by a topical hashtag that makes it easy to follow a particular chat. Already there are hundreds of Twitterchats at all times of the day across a large variety of topics. Some of the largest chats include hundreds of users, and are led by a chat moderator. With the right participants, promotion, and moderation, chats can provide a lot of value by crowdsourcing insights, resources, and expertise. Here’s a nice long list of Twitterchats to give you an idea of what’s out there.
Hosting A Twitterchat
Where do you fit in? Twitterchats are a great way to establish your interests, passions, and expertise in a particular industry or topic. Using a site like Twubs or Hashtags.org, you can try a list of creative hashtags and see if they are in use. You don’t need permission to launch a Twitterchat, just the ability, desire, and drive to engage with an entire community looking forward to talking with you. Perhaps now is the time to consider hosting your own chat. Here are a few key points you’ll want to keep in mind prior to launching:
Identify Your Topic
Choose a topic that you know will provide the best value for your audience. Great places to start are: your FAQs (#howto), general information about your services (#consulting), what’s trending among new business leads for your industry (#sustainability). Try running a survey, or informally asking your best customers some questions. Identify a need and develop a plan to solve it.
Once you know the topic, you must decide what Twitter hashtag you’re going to use. Be specific. For example, we are a digital marketing agency, but we typically focus our conversations on web, mobile, social. If we used #digitalmarketing, the chat would likely be diluted by other conversations, because the hashtag is too broad.
If we were to use something more unique that no one else is using, it would be easier to filter out other conversation from the Twitterchat at a later date. The dilution chances are greatly reduced using a unique hashtag like #360digital.
Create A Calendar
Don’t fly by the seat of your pants. People will be investing their time to participate in the chats, so be sure to take time up front to organize. Plan a few weeks in advance. Have a topic or a guest lined up in advance and be sure all parties know what roles they are playing.
While hosting your Twitterchat, be sure to keep the conversation upbeat and positive. Constantly tweet to and retweet your audience. Lags in conversations are signs that you are not prepared or the audience is not interested in the topic. Act fast and be flexible. It’s important to gauge the mood. Imagine yourself giving a public presentation. If you see people falling asleep or not paying attention, wouldn’t you do something to get them engaged? Same principle applies here.
The Value of Chat Summaries
After every Twitterchat you’ll likely have a list of tweets full of great resources that many others would find valuable. It’s common practice for hosts to provide a chat summary within 24 hours of the chat for all participants. Using a chat summary tool like Storify will make the process easy. The transcript can be posted on your company blog (driving traffic) and will searchable, making it a great resource for people who may not have been able to attend or who didn’t know your Twitterchat exists.
Promote Your Twitterchats
Like anything else, you’ve got to get the word out. Promote Twitterchats on all your social networks, promote the hashtag as well. Cultivate a list of attendees and if you have the time, invite them personally when the day comes. Most Twitterchats repeat weekly, and regular chats means that people can plan on a weekly basis. But until your chat is common enough, you may need to nudge invitees with a few reminders.
Mileage Always Varies
Many of the Twitterchats that we’ve seen are popular and have a large following. Some are so popular they’ve popped up on the trending topics list on Twitter. But just like anything else, there are also chats that flounder, some have even closed shop. Our best recommendation is that you first participate in a few Twitterchats to get a feel for how some of the more successful ones are run. Don’t try during the Twitterchat, of course, but most hosts would be happy to help if you reach out, engage in some friendly chatter, and ask questions.
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