A Twitter chat, or 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.
What is a Twitter Chat?
In a Twitter chat, a host will either ask Twitter audiences a question about a hot topic, or encourage audiences to tweet questions. Once the host receives replies, they tweet in response to them to encourage further discussion. These chats usually run for a short period of time and have a set hashtag associated with them.
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 eight steps you can take to plan a TweetChat for your business and ensure it's a success.
How to Host a Twitter Chat
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.
Once you've done this, attend a few Twitter chats that interest you and learn from what worked and what didn't.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
7. Promote your Twitter chat ahead of time.
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.
8. Start your Twitter chat.
When the time comes, prepare to launch your Twitter chat. Confirm each host's availability and be sure they have solid questions and topics to discuss.
Once you get started, it can't hurt to have someone other than your host monitoring the discussion. This way, if you get a lot of tweet responses, you'll be able to easily answer them with your team. It's also helpful to have someone on board with community management knowledge incase the chat gets dull or is plagued by bad language, complaints about your company, or other unfortunate tweets.
9. When the chat ends, continue to monitor the hashtag.
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!
10. Use highlights from your chat to promote future Twitter events.
In step seven, we suggested that you should write a blog post to promote a chat. But, if you've already had one chat that gave solid insights and plan to have another, you could also write a blog post with the best quotes and tweets from the previous chat. Then note when and where readers can go to see future Twitter chats hosted by you or your brand.
This might be a great way to reach audiences that aren't following you yet, and might make people feel like they missed out. If they do feel that way, they might want to attend the next chat.
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.