Twitter chats allow businesses the unique opportunity to connect and share knowledge with other businesses and clients with the simple use of a hashtag. Do you remember when chat rooms were huge in the late 1990s-early 2000s? Well, it’s pretty much like that. A forum that allows a large number of users to discuss whatever they want.
What is a Twitter Chat?
A twitter chat is when a group of users schedule a specific time to talk about a topic. A hashtag (#) designated for the chat is used in each tweet contributing to the chat. For example, if the group is discussing social media marketing, they may create the tag #SMmarketing. A moderator usually asks questions to encourage participation and interaction among the group.
Participating in a Chat
The first step in participating in a twitter chat is to find one that matches your interests or area of expertise. So where do you find these chats? Unfortunately, twitter does not have an official twitter chat schedule, but there are other places to look online. Websites like tweetreports and gnosisarts.com can help you find weekly chats as well as one-time chats with topics ranging from spirituality to business. If you want to find a chat happening now, Chat Salad is a website that will help you find chats that are currently taking place or will happen in the near future. There is also an enormous Google doc spreadsheet labeled “Twitter Chat Schedule” that lists hundreds of chats.
Once you have found the chat you want to participate in, all you have to do is tweet during the scheduled time using the designated hashtag. To find what others in the chat are saying you will have to search for the hashtag in twitters search bar and read the results. Since this is not the most efficient or effective way to participate in a chat, there have been tons of third party tools created online to fix the problem. TweetChat is a fantastic tool for keeping track of a twitter chat in real time.
Some twitter chats are heavily moderated while others allow for a more open discussion. Heavily moderated chats usually involve a Q&A format. For the first question, the moderator will begin the tweet by posting a tweet starting with Q1 followed by the question. (Example: Q1: Do you think modern businesses are spending enough time on #SMmarketing?). Obviously, question two will be labeled Q2 and so on. To answer a specific question, all you have to do is make sure you put a corresponding A1, A2… A3 at the beginning of your tweet for the question you are trying to answer.
Lightly moderated chats usually start with a moderated question but then take off to wherever the conversation carries it. These are far less structured and participants are encouraged to speak their minds and have fun.
Hosting a Chat
Before hosting a chat, it is recommended that you participate in a few first just so you can get a feel for the flow of a twitter chat. Study how the moderator engages the community and pushes for participation. You will probably find things that you like and others you don’t. This will allow you to form your own style for your twitter chats.
How do you set up your own twitter chat? These are the basics:
- Choose a topic/hashtag: You will want to talk about something directly related to your business. If you own a salon or spa you may want to talk about nail care. After you pick the subject you would like to talk about, (make sure it’s something that can sustain conversation) it’s time to pick the hashtag you will use. Ideally, you will want a hashtag that not only covers the topic of your chat but can also be related back to your business. Make sure your hashtag is short so it does not take up too much space in each tweet. Do your best to make it unique so your chat doesn’t mesh over into other conversations.
- Pick a date/time: Picking the appropriate time to hold your twitter chat can be tricky. It is generally a good idea to hold chats in the evening when most people are off of work. You may also want to look at twitter chat schedules to be sure that your chat won’t be competing against another chat with a similar topic going on at the same time.
- Promote the Chat: Use your existing social media platforms to promote the twitter chat. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and whatever else you have at your disposal. Make sure to use the proper hashtags to maximize your exposure.
- Preparation: This one is very important. You don’t want your chat to die down because you run out of questions. Spend some time writing out questions that you think your audience will find compelling and interesting to answer. And remember that it’s always better to have too many than too few.
- Participation: If you prepared properly, when your chat day arrives everything should run smoothly. You will spend your time posting your pre-written questions, answering participants questions, and sharing knowledge and resources. You can use Spotify to store, host, and share the conversation. When your chat is over you may consider writing a blog about your experience and what you learned during the chat.
How Will Twitter Chats Help My Business?
Now you know what a twitter chat is and how to participate and host one. However, you may still be asking yourself how it can have practical value. The truth is that twitter chats will help your business in a number of ways:
- Build Brand: Hosting and participating in chats will get your name and image out there. It will not only expose users to your knowledge, but they will see your logo and hear your company voice. You may also want mention your brand or services without forcing it into the conversation. Instead of coming across as a sales person, try to emphasize the relevancy of your brand or service to the topic being discussed.
- Connect with Potential Customers/Clients: A twitter chat is like free advertising. Not only do they allow you to connect with others in your industry and current clients, but they also have the ability to connect your business with new clients. This is because most twitter chats are public and anyone can participate in them. If your twitter chat is successful, you may see many participants you weren’t expecting. This is when a twitter chat can become like an audition, if you appear knowledgeable, friendly, and organized during your chat, you may impress potential clients.
- Build Authority (Reputation): Twitter chats are a great way to establish your business as an expert in its field. Hosting a chat allows you to ask and answer questions that will show off your knowledge without having to over promote your business. When someone visits your website, they read about how you’re an expert in your field and have to take your word for it. But in a twitter chat, you can show in real time that you are an expert. Your expertise does the advertising for you. If you participate or host in enough twitter chats in your field you will begin to establish a reputation as a business who knows its stuff. This should not only help with your reputation, but it will help you build your brand as well.
- Gain and Share Knowledge: The whole reason twitter chats were created was so users could quickly share information about specific topics. These chats are about companies and individuals sharing knowledge and learning about their industries and interests. You may come across some information that is very valuable to your business, or you may share some information that has a positive impact elsewhere and leads to a new business partnership.
Twitter chats may seem a bit intimidating at first and you will probably have to work out some kinks along the way, but in the end they will be very rewarding to your business. They can not only strengthen the relationships you have with your current customers/clients, but they can also lead to more revenue through the exposure of your brand.