Engaging an audience on social media can feel a bit like standing on a soapbox with a megaphone and yelling out for someone to notice you. Twitter chats are scheduled times when people connect on Twitter to discuss a specific topic. They can be a useful way to stand out and highlight your business. They give brands a chance to interact on social media with colleagues, fans and potential customers. To create a successful chat, plan it out in advance just like you would for a presentation. You wouldn’t show up unprepared for a big client meeting, so why would you be caught like a deer in the headlights for a social media event that could have far-reaching effects?
Do Your Research
Use an appropriate hashtag for your chat. Your hashtag should represent your business and the subject of the chat. Search for your hashtag on Twitter to see if it’s already been used and what kind of content is affiliated with it. If your idea has been used recently, you might want to pick a different one. You also might want to pick a hashtag you can use again in the future. Keep your hashtag short since you’ll want to use it in each tweet and still leave room for your content.
Create the chat content ahead of time. Decide on a time frame (say an hour or so) for your Twitter chat and make a schedule for your tweets. I do this on paper or in Hootsuite to outline the chat. Ask questions to those following along in the chat using “Q1, Q2″ so they can reply back with corresponding answers. Plan your questions according to what you want to get out of the chat. Are you interested in how customers are using your product? Do you want to discuss the latest innovations in your field with other businesses? Then leave yourself a few minutes between each question for people to reply with answers. You can respond with your thoughts on the fly between the scheduled content.
Time to tell the world. No one will know about your chat unless you tell them! Write a blog post before the chat to let your readers know what it’s about and how they can join in. Feature the event in your email marketing to reach even more people. Tweet about the upcoming chat and link to your blog post to give people a reference for the topic. Share the event on Facebook and LinkedIn to reach everyone in your network.
Time it Right
Know your target audience and conduct the chat when it’s the best time to reach them. There’s no point in having a chat scheduled for 9 a.m. EST if the majority of your audience is based on the west coast. While people can always go back and read through the chat on their timeline, it doesn’t provide the same level of engagement if they were participating live.
With the right preparation and solid topic, your Twitter chat can help your business reach beyond the slotted time. You can expect stragglers who catch tweets and retweets after the chat. Be sure to follow up to see what people are saying even after the chat is ended. Don’t forget to thank everyone who participated in the chat. Now you can take the chat and responses to craft content or new ideas for your business.