Hosting your own Twitter chat can help you build online community, promote your business, and get to know your followers. By creating a unique hashtag, you can connect people around your brand and encourage community participation. A Twitter chat can also provide instant feedback from your customers and followers, which can lead to insights that improve your products and services.
Starting a Twitter chat isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are seven steps to lead you through the process of hosting a Twitter chat for your community.
1. Study Twitter Chats
Unless you already participate in Twitter chats, you will want to observe a few chats in your industry. Participate where it feels natural for you, and take notes on how the chat is structured, how well the conversation flows, and what the moderator does to keep things moving. Think about how you would like your own chat to go, and learn as much about the process as you can.
You can find Twitter chats on this Google Spreadsheet, which was started by Robert Swanwick and is user-generated.
2. Decide on a Hashtag
Once you select a hashtag for your chat, it will be difficult to change – so choose carefully. Make sure the hashtag is unique by searching Twitter and Google to see if it comes up.
Your hashtag should be as short as possible so it won’t take up valuable tweeting space. Also, make sure it is easy to remember, reflecting your brand or topic, as well as easy to type (avoiding underscores and symbols, etc.).
3. Schedule Your Chat
Schedule a day and time for your chat that works best for you so you will not have to change it later. There will always be people who cannot attend on the day and time you choose, so just be sure it is something YOU can stick to.
Check the Twitter chat schedule linked above to be sure there isn’t a major chat on a similar topic happening during your scheduled time. You may want to create a schedule of all the major chats in your industry to help you find an open space for your own chat.
4. Recruit Moderators
Hosting a Twitter chat involves many variables, so you’ll want to recruit someone to help you keep it all straight. You can invite active members of your Twitter community to become moderators, or you can reach out to other social media-savvy people at your company for help.
Moderator duties might include welcoming new members, keeping the discussion focused, and summarizing key parts of the discussion. Moderators can also lend a hand with promotion, as well inviting new members so your chat will grow.
5. Promote Your Chat
Speaking of promotion, you will want to announce your Twitter chat and encourage interested people to join. Use your company’s blog, social media communities, press releases, and newsletters to promote your chat.
Consider creating a reference page, containing all the information about your Twitter chat, that you can link to in all promotions about your chat. You can also encourage your followers to promote your chat by creating badges and videos for them to share.
6. Lead Your Chat
As you host more chats, you will develop your own approach and leadership style. For now, here are some ideas from blogger and community manager Ann Smarty:
- Welcome your chat participants, and allow them to introduce themselves
- Announce the week’s chat topic to keep your discussion focused
- Tweet about your own ideas and thoughts on that topic
- Allow at least five minutes for your participants to share their own thoughts on the topic, and retweet the best ones
- As you move through the chat, summarize key points to keep everyone up to speed
- Ask questions to encourage participation, and retweet the best answers
- Share related links, and ask your participants to share some as well
- Thank everyone for participating, and tweet the chat conclusions
- Announce the next chat day and time, as well as the topic
7. Archive Your Chat
It’s a good idea to keep an archive of your chats for reference and to analyze for future planning. When you create a chat transcript, remove all the retweets to streamline the chat. Here are a few tools to help you transcribe your chats:
- Storify lets you choose which tweets to include in the transcript and add context for future reference.
- Twilert emails you a list of tweets containing your hashtag.
- SearchHash lets you create an Excel spreadsheet of tweets containing your hashtag.
Have you hosted a Twitter chat successfully? What other tips and advice can you share with our readers? Please share your comments in the box below.
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