How to Be a Twitter Chat Champion: The Ultimate Guide

twitter chat guideTwitter chats are social media’s non-stop virtual cocktail party.

Unlike real life events, you don’t need an invitation to get on the list to attend a Twitter Chat!

And, in many chats, even newbies get the velvet rope treatment!

So what are you waiting for?

Here what do you have to do:

  • Show up at the designated time,
  • Use the Twitter hashtag, and
  • Participate as you would converse face-to-face with friends!

Wonder why you should spend your precious time engaged in Twitter Chats?

On a personal level these social media conversations allow you to connect with others. In the process, they reduce the loneliness of working remotely and help you to become part of a community.

From a business perspective, these social media meetings give you access to new colleagues, help you to learn from top people in your field, and support your work objectives.

To help you get up to speed to become a champion, use this Twitter Chat Guide to get the most results from your time and engagement. 

 

What Is a Twitter Chat?

Twitter Chat consists of a public discussion on Twitter.

The defining elements of this open conversation:

  • Use of a unique hashtag to allow people to follow the discussion and participate in it,
  • Focus on a key overarching category of interest with a more tailored weekly focus, and
  • Provides a recurring conversation on a set day and time.

Unlike other marketing channels, Twitter Chats tap into social media’s 3 forms of communication. At any given point in time, participants can respond:

  • One-to-One to address one or a few individuals by using their Twitter handle(s). These messages can be public or private.
  • One-to-Many to put a message out to the public. This is the traditional way marketers communicate with their audiences.
  • Many-to-Many to offer their thoughts to the group and allow others to choose to respond.

 

Why Your Marketing and Social Media Need Twitter Chats

Unlike other forms of social media communications and content sharing, Twitter Chats provide forums for participants with diverse backgrounds and interests to engage.

As such, on-going Twitter conversations are based on social research including:

  • Stanley Milgram’s  Small World Theory (often known as 6 Degrees of Separation) and
  • Malcolm Gladwell’s Law of the Few focused on Connectors, Mavens  and Persuaders.

 

To support all types of marketing strategy, Twitter Chats:

  1. Keep the social media conversation going  and evolving in real time. As a result, no one tweet needs to be a marketing hit. Where needed, you can take the discussion offline. Further, you create a social media listening post.
  2. Support thought leadership development for a specific topic or niche. Since these discussions persist over time, you can change your specific marketing messages to be timely and relevant.
  3. Provide access to thought leaders and influencers. In short, Twitter Chats offer access to well known experts who may otherwise be difficult to engage with.
  4. Create community around your topic or business. Since Twitter chats take place on a weekly basis, your audience develops a habit of showing up and participating. As a result, you build share of audience attention (or SOAA). This supports content distribution and  develops brand advocates.
  5. Develop and support other marketing goals. This includes building your brand and social media presence, attracting new prospects, converting them into customers, and offering customer support

 

 

Twitter Chat Case Studies: 2 Chat Super Stars

Madalyn Sklar – Host of #SocialROI and #TwitterSmarter Chats

What Is Your Twitter Chat Secret Power?

Madalyn: “I’ve been running the #TwitterSmarter chat for 4 years.  In that span of time, the chat has received  9+ billion impressions and 400 thousand tweets.

All of this activity comes from a conversation about how to use Twitter better.

Each week the chat brings hundreds of people together for an active one-hour discussion.

 

How Did You Build Your Twitter Chat Community?

 

 

When you share valuable information and let others shine (meaning don’t always make it about you, make it about them), you’ll get great results.

I always tell newbies it’s not going to happen overnight. You have to be patient and not give up.

While it takes a great amount of work and persistence, it’s worth the benefits of starting your own Twitter chat. In the long-run, it can be very rewarding for your brand as long as you stick with it and provide value to the community you build.

 

Erika Heald – Host of #ContentChat – Mondays at 3:00 pm ET

What Is Your Twitter Chat Secret Power?

Erika Heald recommends that the best way to get noticed in a Twitter Chat is by participating in it in real time.

Translation:

  • Have conversations with other participants,
  • Be helpful, and
  • Follow the 80/20 rule to go very light on self-promotion and to share  your content.

Too often many people treat Twitter chats as a place to go to promote their latest piece of content or new business venture. But that approach has a small impact at best.

 

What is the biggest challenge you face with #ContentChat?

Erika: “Having hosted #ContentChat for 3 years, the biggest challenge is finding ways to keep the content and format fresh.” [Editor: Every content marketer faces this issue!]

“I avoid repeating the same topics or guests unless there has been a significant change. Instead, I experiment with community conversations.”

“During the chat we work on a specific issue as a group or do a hands-on activity.  For example, we helped attendees to craft a personalized career development plan for the year.”

How Did You Decide To Extend #ContentChat Community To Other Platforms And Real Life?

 

Erika also hosts a meetup for #ContentChat regulars during Content Marketing World in Cleveland.

 

 

10 Tactics To Master Any Twitter Chat

Want to become a Twitter chat champion?

Here are 10 tactics to help you become an active member of any chat to support your business and personal objectives.

 

First Rule of Twitter Chat: Do your homework

  • Put Your Best Foot Forward. Dress your Twitter Profile for success. As Twitter business card, use a great photo, bio, and header image to grab  attention and reflect your brand. Look at how Madalyn Sklar did hers.

    Twitter Social Media Marketing Tip

    How To Take Full Advantage of Your Twitter Profile – Example: Madalyn Sklar

  • Explore Different Chats. Determine which ones are most relevant to your marketing needs. Lurk a few times to get the hang of how people are exchanging information. Take note of how the regular participants interact.
  • Add Specific Chats to Your Calendar. Show up on consistently to become a Twitter Chat regular. Like any other form of marketing or personal relationships, the key is building the habit. As a result, you develop closer ties and get recognized.

 

Second Rule of Twitter Chat: Understand The Communication Basics

  • Introduce yourself when you join a chat to let others know who you are. Also share a tidbit or two as you would in any face-to-conversation. Most chats start with an icebreaker question. Some chats ask lurkers, to say hi to get an idea of who’s attending.
  • Warn your followers. If you’re joining a chat, let your followers know.  This way they know to expect more tweets than average and don’t get pissed that you’ve filled their Twitter stream.
  • Listen to Emily Post and mind your manners. As open conversations, chat participants have varying amounts of experience and may come from different parts of the World. Therefore, show everyone respect and be polite.
  • Be friendly. Realize that a limited amount of small talk is acceptable at the beginning of the chat. It’s like a real-life meeting. After you’re comfortable and have attended a few chats, reach out to newer attendees.
  • Take a time out. If the chat discussion gets heated, walk away for a few minutes to regroup. Don’t let your fingers communicate in the heat of the moment. Remember, followers and attendees can view your tweets. They become a digital record.
  • Show your appreciation to the moderator and others. Acknowledge the work that the moderator has put in to help guide the conversation. Also, thank those with whom you connected. It’s good manners.

 

Third Rule of Twitter Chat: Follow The Question And Answer Format

To facilitate chats, they’re composed of a question and answer format.

The best chat leaders like Sklar and Heald follow these steps:

  • Attract top influencers to be guests. Often, the community admires their work and want to engage with them.
  • Select a chat topic and title. The goal: To make the chat enticing to attract not only regulars but also a broader audience.
  • Develop a set of questions that generate interaction. Most chats have time for 8 questions. This allows the guest to offer pre-formatted content and to respond in real time to participants.
  • Create visuals for the promotion and questions. This helps keep people on track.

 

Fourth Rule of Twitter Chat: Maximize Chat Participation In Real Time

 

 

Always include the hashtag in your tweets to get seen by the entire group. Where appropriate add other people’s names to your tweet.

To this end, contribute to the scheduled chat conversation in real time. This includes:

  • Re-tweet useful information and comments.
  • Share your insights or point of view.
  • Replying to guest and other participants.

Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t respond to you!  Since participants use different platforms and devices.

As Heald recommended, go lightly when it comes to promoting your own content or other marketing.

Further consider the impact that what you say may have on others who may read it in a different context from yours. 

When you do share, ask yourself whether the information adds to the conversation and the collective knowledge.

 

Fifth Rule of Twitter Chat: Create a Twitter Chat Strategy

Create a marketing strategy to guide your use of Twitter Chats even if you don’t create your own chat!

Why?
Since your time is scarce and you need to ensure that it yields measurable results for your marketing.

Rather,
Decide what your goals are for using Twitter Chats.

They can be personal such as building your network or they can be part of your work such as engaging with prospects and customers. Do this so that neither you nor your boss view this social media time as “wasted” time.

Then go one step further to create a way of measuring results related to your goals.  This is how you ensure that your Twitter Chat activity contributes to building business value.

 

Sixth Rule of Twitter Chat: Help Promote The Chat

Like any other form of content or marketing, Twitter Chats need to be promoted on a regular basis to stay top of mind.

Twitter Chat Promotion Tip:
Promote upcoming guests in the current chat while you’ve got the maximum attention!

Where appropriate, extend your hashtag to a much larger event. Content Marketing Institute did this very successfully with #CMWorld.

If you’re running a chat, then use every form of owned and social media to support your efforts. As Sklar advises, understand that it takes time to gain traction.

To this end, take advantage of co-marketing and tap into the power of the influencers you know.

As a regular participant, support the chat by sharing their promotions and tweets.

 

Seventh Rule of Twitter Chat: Follow Up Post-Chat

Since Twitter Chats are a great way to connect with peers, prospects and influencers, schedule time to follow up after each chat.

  • Follow people with whom you connected. If you liked what they said in the chat, you’ll be interested in following them on Twitter. Take action while the conversation is still fresh in your mind.
  • Gone but not forgotten. After a chat, monitor your Twitter streams to see if others respond to your comments. Where appropriate, answer them. Also, exchange ideas during the week through the use of the hashtag.
  • Show your appreciation to the moderator and others. Acknowledge the work that the moderator has put in to help guide the conversation. Also, thank those with whom you connected. It’s good manners.

 

Eighth Rule of Twitter Chat: Continue To Experiment With Different Experiences

Like other types of social media, Twitter Chats are evolving. But don’t be fooled this doesn’t happen by accident. 

Whenever Madalyn Sklar attends a conference, she holds her Twitter Chats Live. Even better, she gets companies to provide goodies for the people who join her at the event.

Beyond creating content, the people who participate live connect and build deeper relationships! (Hat tip to Lisa Marcyes for the photo!)

How conferences build community

Live #TwitterSmarter with Madalyn Sklar and Lisa Buyer helps build both Twitter chat community and SMMW community

Super star that she is, Sklar like to be different to stand out in a sea of marketers!

So Sklar experimented going from a Twitter chat to a Facebook Live stream. She invited her guest to join her immediately following the Twitter chat to continue the conversation. And the beauty with Facebook Live is that you get a video replay that lives on.

 

Ninth Rule of Twitter Chat: Maximize The Power Of Twitter Chat Content

(aka: Continuous Content Distribution)

While you may view tweets as short and fleeting content, reuse content created during each Twitter Chat. By doing this, you capture the most valuable gems and keep them visible.

In the process, you provide useful information for:

  • Attendees who want to review key points
  • Non-attendees interested in the topic and/or guest.

The most common options are blog posts and Twitter moments. Here are examples from Content Marketing World’s chat with Brian Fanzo on the topic of Digital Empathy.

Twitter Chat Content Reuse

Twitter Chat Content

 

Tenth Rule of Twitter Chat: Track Key Metrics

To capture measurable results from Twitter like with other forms of marketing, remember to use a call-to-action and connected content to focus participant action.

For example:
Erika Heald does a Twitter Advanced Search for her hashtag and the timeframe. Additionally, she uses hashtag tracking tools such as hashtracking. Although typically, she skims the feed and decides (based on overall interaction/engagement) which Tweets merit highlighting or publishing in other content.

Personally, I like the visual impact of charts like this one from Nodelgraphicgallery. It summarizes results to show the top participants. It also shows the data by question.

Visual representation of a Twitter Chat via Nodelgraphgallery

 

Twitter Chat Guide Conclusion

Twitter chats are the social media cocktail party where communications flow many-to-many.

Unlike your ordinary tweet, Twitter Chats provide longer term benefits for both individuals and businesses.

Why?
Because they create on-going communities where participants care about each other. Further, they build deeper relationships through their weekly consistency.

In an time where many of us work remotely and go from gig-to-gig, Twitter Chats provide a relatively stable environment. These communities provide friendship, engagement and information.

While still predominantly transmitted 280 characters or less, these communications force participants to focus on key information.

Take a page from Twitter Super Stars, Sklar and Heald, you can’t rest on your Twitter Chat laurels.

Instead you need to continually try new things and evolve to:

  • Change up the content to prevent it from getting stale.
  • Test new technologies and opportunities. 
  • Delight and surprise your community–on Twitter, other social media platforms, and real life!

Do you have any suggestions that you would add to this list? If so, please do so in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Editor’s note:
This article was initially published on


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.

 

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Photo credit: Superman manikin photographed by Heidi Cohen at CMWorld 2018. “Superman” and the Superman logo are registered trademarks of DC Comics. 

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