Image courtesy of Roberta Cortese/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Roberta Cortese/Flickr.

A Twitter chat can be a great way to market your business. Getting people to interact with your business and engage in conversations will help you raise awareness of your brand and encourage people to see you as an expert in your industry. These chats can also help you reach out to your market and better understand your customer base.

What exactly is a Twitter chat? It is basically an online meeting that allows Twitter users to discuss specific topics. Usually there is a moderator who starts the chat, asks questions and encourages discussion, and then ends the chat.

Choose a Topic and Schedule

First, decide what you want your chat to be about. Think strategically and choose a topic that will help you promote your business, get more customers or learn more about your market. Then, decide when to hold your chat. Keep in mind that you may have participants from different time zones, so account for that when you set up a schedule.

Some businesses host regular Twitter chats, holding them monthly or even weekly. This approach can enhance your social media marketing strategy, so think about ways this could benefit your business.

Plan Questions and Choose a Hashtag

The most successful Twitter chats are made up of questions. Your moderator needs to be able to tweet the questions, so keep them short but insightful. The idea behind having questions is to spur discussion and give your chat some substance, so make that the goal as you write them. Usually chats are about an hour long and include five or six questions, allowing for enough time for answers.

You also need to choose a hashtag that will tie all the tweets from your chat together. Choose a hashtag that is unique and do a search on Twitter to make sure it isn’t already being used. You may also want to choose something that relates to your brand or includes your business name.

Publicise Your Chat

Now you need to tell your market about your chat. Of course, you should use Twitter to promote it but you can also use other channels, like your other social media accounts, your blog, your marketing emails and your website to tell people about your chat.

If you plan to hold the chat on a regular basis, keep in mind that your participants’ tweets will help you publicise it and hopefully, as your chat becomes more established, more people will know about it, helping it become bigger and more helpful for participants.

You can also include industry experts or ask a well-known person to host your chat. This can help create some excitement and entice people to participate. Giving people the chance to engage with popular Twitter users can make people more excited and more likely to participate.

Hold a Successful Chat

When the big day for your Twitter chat arrives, you’ll want to do everything you can to make it successful. Make sure you prepare well in advance, have your questions ready and test the software you will be using.

Start by introducing yourself as the moderator, telling participants what the theme for the chat will be, and introducing any special guests. Then, explain the format and hashtag so that people can easily follow your chat.

Most chats use “Q1” to designate the first question, and continue labelling each question the same way. Participants than respond with “A1,” and so on, so that everyone involved in the chat can follow the discussion.

Other tips to help you hold a successful chat include:

  • Give people enough time to respond before asking a new question.
  • Retweet questions and answers when appropriate.
  • Give participants time to ask guest tweeters questions.
  • At the end of the chat, announce your next chat date, time and topic.

The key to a good Twitter chat is to maintain a stream of questions, answers and general engagement.

Follow Up after the Chat

After the chat, continue to follow your hashtag to see what people are talking about. Stay involved where you can and use the conversations during and after the chat to help you come up with topics and questions for future chats.

If you plan on hosting another chat it can be good write a blog post and social media posts thanking contributors, recapping the chat, and telling your audience when the next one will be.

Twitter chats can help you connect with your audience in a new way, give you insight into your market and help you promote your brand. Use these tips and start planning a Twitter chat that will benefit your marketing campaign and your business!


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