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9 Ways to Make the Most of a Twitter Chat

Twitter chats are an often-overlooked social media marketing strategy, which is a shame. They can be super fun and worthwhile – if you approach it with the right mindset.

A couple of weeks ago I guest hosted the always awesome #BizHeroes Twitter chat. My chat’s topic? Work-life balance. As you might imagine, it was a lively and insightful conversation (you can find the transcript here). I had fun sharing my tips, hearing what other people struggle with, and learning new strategies.

But whether you guest host or attend as a Twitter chat participant, there are a bunch of things you can do to make the most of your time, raise your profile, and use everything you learned for marketing purposes.

So let’s start at the beginning.

1. Understand how they work

If you’ve never joined a Twitter chat before, here’s how it works:

Whoever hosts generally works with a pre-written list of questions to spur conversation. Questions are preceded by “Q1,” “Q2,” etc. When you answer, the first question, precede your answer with “A1.” If you have more than one answer, you can get super fancy and type out A1.b, A1.c, etc.

Because Twitter chats move fast, this is the best way to keep things organized. When you need to take a screen break (see below), you’ll be able to pick up where you left off. Of course, not everyone participating follows this convention, but the vast majority do.

2. Use TweetChat

Think of TweetChat as a digital “room” with a closed door. It keeps your Twitter chat inside and other Twitter chats (and your regular news feed) outside.

When you’re on TweetChat, enter the hashtag of the Twitter chat you’re joining. You’ll immediately go into the “room” where the chat is taking place. The feed is constantly refreshed, making it easy to keep up.

3. Commit to one or two chats

We have found that you’ll get the most out of a Twitter chat if you commit to joining it on a regular basis. The hosts and other “regulars” will get to know you, making the conversations richer and more interesting. Plus, as you get to know them, you’ll find yourself looking forward to the chat.

4. Look up the topic

Even if you love one particular Twitter chat, not all topics it covers will rock your world. I’ve made it a habit of looking up topics ahead of time. If the next chat’s topic isn’t of interest, I skip it rather than wasting my (and the other participants’) time.

5. Comment, respond and engage

Twitter chats are extremely social. The more you engage, the more you’ll get out of the experience. Like others’ tweets and respond to the tweets that really stand out.

When someone responds to your tweets, feel free to get a side conversation going. It is perfectly polite, and (most) hosts like to see this happening.

6. Take a screen break

The #BizHeroes Twitter chat is an hour. That’s a long time to be constantly staring at a refreshing screen, and it really strains the eyes. Look or walk away from your computer frequently to give your eyes a rest (and to avoid getting a headache).

7. Follow participants

During or after the chat, follow the participants you really liked. They’ll probably follow you back, making it a quick and easy way to gain new followers.

8. Share what you learn

Find out ahead of time if the hosts make the chat transcript available, as that’ll make it much easier to share what you learn. During the chat, make quick notes of tweets that really stand out (and note the time stamp so you can easily find it in the transcript).

You can retweet the tweets after the fact, turn them into quotes to share on Facebook or Instagram, or collect the wisdom in a blog post.

9. Ask to guest host

Because being a guest host is not super time consuming, it’s a great opportunity to pursue. You’ll raise your profile, build credibility and trust, and position yourself as a thought leader. Win – win – win!

Ask the hosts of your favorite chats if you can be a guest host. Throw out some topic ideas to get a “yes” faster. You might have to come up with some questions for the chat, but other than helping to promote the chat – and then showing up for it – that’s it.

I definitely encourage you to check out #BizHeroes, which takes place every Tuesday at 2 pm EST. If you host a Twitter chat, we’d love to hear more about it! Drop us a note here.

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