8 Steps to Hosting a Successful Twitter Chat

    by Maurice Rahmey

    Date

    November 21, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Tweet ChatA TweetChat is a virtual meeting or gathering of people on Twitter to discuss a common topic. Companies like Cisco and FedEx have hosted their own TweetChats to engage with their audiences on a more personal level, and it's a great inbound marketing tactic for your social media strategy.

    For B2B companies, hosting TweetChats are an amazing way to get a better understanding of your fans, customers, and leads while also allowing you to grow your Twitter reach. But hosting a TweetChat also requires some thorough planning in order to be successful.

    Below are 8 steps you can take to plan a TweetChat for your business and ensure it's a success.

    HubSpot will also be hosting its first-ever TweetChat tomorrow, November 22, from 3:30 - 4:00 PM ET. Join us as we discuss what Google+ means for your business' inbound marketing strategy! The hashtag to follow along is #InboundChat.

    8 Steps to Hosting a Successful TweetChat

    Step 1: Monitor other chats and fill a void. Before you even think about starting your own TweetChat, it's important to take note of how other groups are conducting their chats. How do they interact with their followers? What are they discussing, and what types of questions are they asking? Monitoring other TweetChats will also allow you to refine your choice of topic for your own chat. Try to identify a topic in your industry that is getting talked about a lot but hasn't been represented yet in a formalized TweetChat. This is a great way to choose an appealing topic that generates interest from your target audience. There's a great Google Doc you can access to determine what other TweetChats are out there. Attend a few that interest you, and learn from what worked and what didn't.

    Step 2: Determine your topic and make it the theme of your chat(s). You may either decide that you want to run a one-time Twitter chat or that you'd like to host one every week. Either way, it’s important to have a common theme to guide your chat. For example, FedEx's TweetChats are always about some issue related to small business trends and issues.  They stay core to their focus throughout the chat and don't segue to other issues that don't relate to their core theme. Make sure that when you pick your topic, you stick with it throughout the chat. This keeps things focused and organized.

    Step 3: Choose your hashtag. Now that you have your TweetChat topic/theme figured out, the next step is to pick a hashtag so people can follow your chat. You may want to use your corporate name in the chat, but it’s more important to make sure that the hashtag reflects what the chat is about. People want to get a sense of what they'll be participating in -- be straightforward with them. And if you're hosting a weekly chat based on a particular theme, consider making the hashtag more general so it can be used for future chats. For example, HubSpot's TweetChat tomorrow is about how Google+ fits into a business' inbound marketing strategy, so we appropriately chose the hashtag #InboundChat.

    Step 4: Pick a date and time. It's important for you to choose the timing for your TweetChat based on what's accessible to both you and your followers. Try to find a time that doesn't conflict with another chat that may overlap with your specific topic. For example, if you noticed that there is a #SocialMediaChat, you probably wouldn't want to schedule your #FacebookChat to occur at the same time.

    Step 5: Create engaging questions for discussion. Now that you have your topic, date, and time nailed down, think about the needs of your prospects and customers and what questions related to the topic they might want answers for. It's important to create questions and discussion points ahead of time that you can use to help facilitate conversation during your chat. For example, think about asking your followers which tactics they use, what's the one biggest problem they face, or what they think will be a solution to an industry problem.  It's important to make sure your questions can allow for some great engagement and interaction between your TweetChat attendees.

    Step 6: Bring in guest tweeters to help you host your chat. If you want to make your TweetChat a "must-participate," a great way to entice your followers is by asking an industry expert to join the chat from their personal account. These guest tweeters can be from outside your company or they can be your business' executives. Promoting that an industry expert will also be participating in your chat is a great way to add credibility to your chat and topic you'll be discussing. It's also a great way to encourage others to participate in your chat.

    Step 7: Get the word out. After you have your chat organized and ready to go, it's time to promote it! Write a blog post about it, promote it to followers in other social networks, and tweet about the chat, its hashtag, and when it's happening. Make sure people know that you're organizing a TweetChat. If you want to attract key people in your industry to participate, go the extra mile and invite them personally, explaining how you think their insight on the topic would make for a truly valuable and engaging TweetChat.

    Step 8: When the chat ends, your work is still not done. After you finish your chat, participants may still use your hashtag to engage in conversation, especially if you chose one that is more general. Make sure you're still monitoring this discussion. It can help you identify followers who may be more qualified leads, and the discussion that sparks may even give you an idea for your next TweetChat!

    TweetChats can be a powerful tool for creating engagement and growing the reach of your Twitter account. These steps will help you on your way to becoming a TweetChat superstar!

    Interested in participating in a TweetChat to see what it's all about? HubSpot will be hosting its first-ever TweetChat tomorrow, November 22, from 3:30 - 4:00 PM ET. Join us as we discuss what Google+ means for your business' inbound marketing strategy! The hashtag to follow along is #InboundChat.

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