Monday, August 10, 2015

Tips For Hosting A Twitter Chat

Twitter is one of the most powerful social channels for businesses. Not only is it handy for social customer service, but it’s also great for brand building and awareness.

Twitter chats are a popular choice among individuals and businesses looking to help build their brand exposure, while also gaining new followers and interacting with people. All too often Twitter is used as a one-sided sales funnel, and people seem to forget the interaction side of things.


I’ve just recently wrapped up one of the most interactive Twitter chat’s I’ve been a part of (#AdvTravelChat), and let me tell you, that was intense.

I’ve hosted Twitter chats several times now, and seem to learn something new each time.

Today I wanted to share some great tips on how to host a Twitter chat:

1. Know your purpose

I was recently asked to co-host a Twitter chat with some travel industry experts. This week’s chat was about road tripping, which is the subject of another blog I run. My area of expertise in that blog is specifically focused on road trip tips, and our various road trip experiences. So it was no surprised that I was asked to co-host a Twitter chat on road tripping.

Once you know your specific focus on your chat, this will help narrow down your questions you want to ask during the chat, who you might want to co-host the chat with you, and if this is a new chat you’re starting – what your chat hashtag will be.

Tip: If you’re new to the world of Twitter chats, you can use tools like Tweetreports.com to search for existing Twitter chats. It’s a good idea to participate in a few chats to help get the feel of how things work.

2. Pre-schedule your questions


One of the best ways to prep for a Twitter chat is to pre-schedule your chat questions in advance. I like to use Hootsuite to pre-schedule my questions. This will give you more free time to interact with others and respond to people’s answers to your questions while the chat is taking place.

Tip: include images in your chat questions. It’s a great visual aid that will help get the attention of not only chat participants, but also draw in the attention of newbies to your chat as it`s taking place.

3. Promote, Promote, Promote

Prior to your chat starting, it`s a good idea to promote your chat as it helps encourage people to participate. I personally like to write a featured blog post about the upcoming chat, give people the date, time, hashtag to use, and a rundown of the questions we`re going to be asking so they know in advance. This also gives me a link to tweet out to followers in advance with detailed information.

Here’s an example of a pre-scheduled promotional tweet:

Join us tomorrow from 12pm - 1pm as we chat about #_________. Details here (include a link to your blog post).

Pssst … our #_______ chat begins in 20 mintues. Join us

4. Go live with your chat
 
Once the chat gets started, be prepared to hit the ground running. Twitter chats can be a bit overwhelming the first few times you run them. I like to have two different tabs open during the chat, one being the notification tab, and one being a search page for the Twitter chat hashtag. I find, as much as you’re supposed to respond in a Twitter chat with the chat hashtag, not everyone does so. Some I find just reply to your tweets. This is a great way of monitoring responses from the hashtag, as well as replys from people on Twitter.

5. Thank people for attending
Once the chat is over, it’s a great idea to thank people for participating in your Twitter chat, thank your co-hosts (if you have any), and if you have an upcoming Twitter chat, this is the time to remind people to mark it down on their calendars so they can also participate in your next chat.

6. Measure results

It’s always a good idea to measure the effectiveness of your Twitter chat. The majority of people who use Twitter chats have some sort of marketing purpose behind the chat. I like to use Hashtracking to gain insight into the number of times my Twitter chat hashtag was used, the viral reach, and how many participated in the chat.

7. Learn from your experience

Social media is really about trial and error, and Twitter chats are no different. Once you’ve measured the effectiveness of your chat, you can then look at what you think worked, what didn’t work, and what you can learn from the chat moving forward. This will help with the planning phase of your next Twitter chat.

Lastly, the most important thing to remember with running a Twitter chat is to have fun with it. Social media in general should be fun, and your brand should have some sort of human element to it.

Did we miss an important Twitter chat tip? Leave a comment below and share your best tip with us. 
 

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