One of the most important parts of having a presence on social media platforms is the act of actually being “social.” (Right?!)
Sometimes the simplicity of just being on social media for connections gets forgotten, but we all have to remember the reason why we got onto these platforms initially as users ourselves. We didn’t get on Facebook to be advertised to, we got on Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends. Same goes with the rest of the social media platforms that we each live on… we spent time developing our own presence on them in order to connect with real people. To share with people, to engage with people… sometimes that gets lost in our own marketing efforts.
Twitter is a particularly fast-moving platform, where users generally go to either be educated, have a pointed conversation about a certain topic, or to find out the latest news about a subject. It’s a different kind of connection, and it the general vibe of a Twitter community can seem more “honed-in” on certain topics of conversation. But that’s exactly it: people go to Twitter to have lively, real-time, valuable conversations.
Enter the Twitter chat.
We talk often in our videos, coaching sessions, and workshops about the importance of building trust within your community and positioning your brand as an “authority” on your industry. Besides Facebook Live, Twitter is the “other place” to go for solid, in-real-time, conversation. What better way to marry your intention to build authority in your industry with the nature of Twitter than to host your own branded conversations on a regular basis? (AKA: Twitter chats)
Let me teach you the way, the way to slay. All. DAY.
Before you launch your Twitter chat, there are several steps that you need to take in order to make it successful and valuable to your community.
Develop a calendar of topics that you’d like to chat about with your community. These topics should be items with which you can both educate your community, while also inspiring them to critically think about a topic themselves. (The basis of any valuable conversation in life… right?)
Think about items that come up often in your day-to-day conversations with your clientele and with other individuals in your community… how can you spin these into valuable Twitter conversations? Make a list of these items and then organize them into a weekly content calendar.
This is also the time when you need to nail down the hashtag that your community will be using when they participate in the chat. As many of you know, I produce Social Media Examiner’s #smechat. Coming up with the hashtag for this specific Twitter chat wasn’t an easy process, and we did a lot of research before we decided to go with it. You want to make sure that the hashtag that you use isn’t currently being used by someone else. A great chat to check out is Madalyn Sklar’s #TwitterSmarter. She sets a terrific example for how Twitter chats can truly work, and she even hosts a guest on her chat every week. (I’ve been a guest before, in fact!) This is a smart thing to do because it can significantly expand the reach of the chat. Guests bring with them their own networks, which means that your chat can gain that much more attention and potential participation in the future.
Twitter chats are typically done weekly, so keep that in mind.
Another thing you’ll want to do before launching and promoting your Twitter chat, is to nail down which day of the week and what time of day you’ll want to commit to leading your chat. Twitter chats are typically done on a weekly basis at the same time every week. To avoid clashing with other chats in your industry, you’ll want to do a little bit of research to find out what kind of Twitter chats are happening on which days in your industry. Then, think about times when your community is likely to be active, and plan your regular chat time based on those things.
Develop a cadence to your Twitter chat. You don’t want to dive straight into the questions and topic at-hand right away. It’s best to announce at the beginning that the Twitter chat is actually beginning, then a few minutes later ask your participants to introduce themselves and state where they’re tweeting from. (You’d be SHOCKED by how diverse the locations will be!)
Give people time to introduce themselves and chat with each other about small talk and such. This part of the Twitter chat is just as valuable as the rest of the chat because it plays a sort of “networking” opportunity, which in turn allows your participants to bond and get to know each other.
After everyone has their banter time:
Announce the topic of the day. This is important because it allows your audience to start formulating their own stance on the topic, and might even attract individuals outside of the chat to come join. Remember, everything you tweet from your account is visible to your followers… and if you utilize hashtags, then you will increase your reach.
Now it’s time to dive into the meat of it:
Prior to launching the Twitter chat for the week, it will be helpful to you as the producer of the chat to have already come up with 6-8 questions for your chat. To supplement the questions and to amplify their visibilty, you’ll want to develop branded and consistent graphics for you chat questions. This makes them easy for your participants to spot, and it separates them from the noise and bustle of the rest of the chat interactions. Here’s what ours look like on #smechat:
The question is included in the copy of the tweet, but it’s also quite visible on the image as well. It’s easy to spot! This is good for your participants because Twitter chats can move pretty quickly and it can be quite easy to miss the questions if they don’t visually stand out.
Formatting is important:
As you may have noticed in the image above, the question is preceded by “Q4.” This is simply to mark the fact that it is the fourth question of the chat. When participants respond to this question, they include “A4” in their tweet in order to add context to the question that they’re answering. Here’s an example:
You’ll want to instruct your participants to use this format at the beginning of the Twitter chat, before you dive into the meat of the discussion.
Remember to actively engage throughout the chat!
People thrive on validation, first off. So when the hosting account acknowledges your tweet in a Twitter chat, it’s a pretty cool experience. Make sure that you’re an active part of the discussion on your own Twitter chat. Like tweets. Retweet people. Comment back on specifically inspiring insight. Be an actively engaged piece of the conversation, besides just posting topics and questions.
A couple more things to remember:
Customarily, Twitter chats last an hour. This allows for a vibrant and insightful discussion, but it also lets you spend an hour a week actively engaging with your community. This can quickly become quite visible in the Twittersphere, so don’t underestimate the power of it all.
Don’t forget to actively promote your Twitter chat! Just because you host a chat doesn’t mean that people will automatically show up. Come up with a marketing strategy for your chat and implement it weekly in order to consistently grow your chat attendance and visibility.
OH! One more thing:
Don’t be a robot, guys. Go into your chat with a real personality and an approachable vibe. Have fun, engage actively and constantly add value.
Have questions about starting a Twitter chat? Send us a message! I will happily answer. Thanks for reading and have fun!