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How to Create a Must-Attend Twitter Chat

A couple of years ago, I participated in a regular Twitter chat hosted by one of my clients, Groupon. I can’t emphasize enough what a great thought leadership tool it was for them.

The questions were thought-provoking and the answers – contributed by those of us affiliated with Groupon and by those in our audience – were eye-opening, relevant, and valuable to everyone who joined – mostly B2C small business owners.

Twitter chats perfectly illustrate the strengths of social media marketing for small business owners:

  • You can reach a lot of people at once.
  • You don’t have to leave your house (or office) to have amazing conversations.
  • Your audience can join the conversation at any time from anywhere and from any device.
  • You can save a lot of money compared to paying for and attending networking events, seminars, workshops, and conferences.
  • You don’t even have to get out of your pajamas. All you have to do is be prepared.

And this is one of the reasons I love Twitter chats. They can be a very powerful marketing tool for your small business – but you have to nail the details.

Based on my experiences with Twitter chats – and believe me, not all have been kick-ass awesome – here is how to create a must-attend Twitter chat:

Choose hot topics your audience cares about

Obviously, if you want to attract a big audience that can’t wait to jump in and share, you need to focus on them and what they care about. What are your top FAQs? What are your clients’ biggest challenges? Those are your topics.

As you build your audience and get established, you can definitely ask them to submit topic ideas.

Pick a hashtag

As you know, hashtags organize content on social media by topic. Because Twitter moves so quickly, a hashtag is especially important for a Twitter chat.

Brainstorm hashtags for your Twitter chat that is short, easy to remember, and preferably tied to your brand. Then type them into Twitter search to see if any are taken. I also suggest running your hashtag ideas past trusted advisors, clients, and/or partners to see what resonates with them.

Create a list of questions – and get it vetted

Start with a list of 10 questions. Depending on how long your Twitter chat is (most are 30-60 minutes) and the number of active participants, you may not get to them all. And that’s OK – you can hold onto questions for another chat.

Run your questions by the above-mentioned trusted people in your network for their feedback. They might find two questions that are very similar, or they might suggest others to include.

Nail down the format

Twitter chats follow one standard format. The moderator poses each question like this:

#Q1 What’s your favorite color? #Twitter-chat-hashtag

And participants answer like this:

#A1 My favorite color is blue #Twitter-chat-hashtag

Once it seems like answers to your current question have died down, move on to the next question.

Because you’ll want to “star” (the Twitter equivalent of like) and reply to answers as you go – remember, this is a conversation! – you’ll want to use my next tip.

Sign up with TweetChat

Twitter chats move really, really fast, making it almost impossible to keep up with what’s going on unless you have some help.

TweetChat is awesome, because it lets you:

  • View the stream of tweets without constantly hitting refresh
  • Pause the stream to star or reply to a tweet, which is very handy
  • Automatically add the hashtag to end of every tweet – a HUGE timesaver

Promote the hell out of your chat

Go nuts promoting the Twitter chat. Of course, you’ll want to start by promoting it on Twitter, the other social media network you use, and in your newsletter. You can add a mention on the home page of your website, and you can send out a quick email announcement to your clients and partners.

When promoting it, remember to emphasize why people should to join. What’s in it for them? What will they learn? How will they benefit?

If you need help with your Twitter chat – from getting it up and running to managing it – give us a shout! We’ll cover all the details so you can reap the benefits.

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