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Twitter’s a powerful marketing tool – you all know that already. You have already read at length about what it can do for an event organizer, about the volatile power of Hashtags, and about the importance of keeping brand advocates up-to-date. Today, we’re going to talk about another, oft-overlooked feature of the platform: Twitter Chats.

What Is A Twitter Chat, Exactly?

A Twitter chat is an organized, regularly-scheduled discussion hosted and organized through Twitter’s Hashtag function. According to AWeber, the majority of Twitter chats take the form of a Q&A format: the host asks a question and directs it at experts and influencers. Usually, these questions are all focused around a single topic or theme – for example, #ContentChat’s recent session was all about podcasts; in the past, they’ve discussed Evergreen content, rebranding tips, and the ever-present Shiny Object Syndrome.

There are also a few utilities you can use to make the hosting process a bit easier on your brand and allow you to measure how much reach and participation each of your chats is receiving, such as Spider by oneQube and Hashtracking. This will also help you get more data

How Do You Participate?

As we’ve already stated, participation in a Twitter chat is simple – all you need to do is add a hashtag to your tweets, and you’re in. That said, there are a few ground rules you’ll need to follow if you want people to actually pay attention to what you’re saying (and if you want to avoid getting blacklisted). Not surprisingly, they’re strikingly similar the rules of etiquette in everyday conversation:

  • Remember that this is a conversation. You’re not here to make a sales pitch or put the spotlight squarely on yourself (or your brand). You’re here to talk to other people; to make connections and network with like-minded brands and prospective clients. AWeber draws a parallel to a cocktail party – you wouldn’t walk in and start yelling at everyone to pay attention to you, so don’t do the equivalent thing here.
  • Keep it relevant. You might have something really cool to say about when you shouldn’t schedule your Facebook posts, but if the chat’s a discussion of the merits of Google + marketing, then your advice is probably falling flat. To keep running with the cocktail party analogy; if two people are discussing the weather, it’s poor form to interject with political commentary.
  • Don’t be annoying. What I mean by this is that you need to avoid spamming. When you have got something to say, you only need to say it once. Repeating the same thing over and over isn’t going to get you more attention – it’s going to get you either blocked or flagged.
  • Follow the established format. Are you responding to the third question? Don’t forget to preface your answer with A3, and add the chat’s hashtag to your tweet. Failure to do so will result in one of two things: either your voice gets lost in the noise, or it never gets heard in the first place.
  • It’s okay to simply listen. Twitter chats are valuable sources of information. Even if you’re not there to network – even if you don’t have anything to add – it’s perfectly acceptable to simply tune in and read. Who knows? You might learn something.

How Do You Host Your Own?

Right. You have looked at a few of the most popular, successful Twitter chats, and decided you want to run your own. That’s awesome – if you pull it off, a Twitter chat can do some pretty fantastic things for your brand.

That said, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself first:

 

  • Do you already have a presence on Twitter? This one’s big. Unless you have already got a relatively-successful Twitter account, you might want to hold off on hosting a chat for the time being (unless your goal is to gain more followers on Twitter – in which case, have at it).
  • How will you get the word out?
  • Can you come up with regular topics to cover?
  • How are you going to moderate your chat?
  • Do you have a hashtag in mind?
  • Will your discussions be open or closed?
  • How will you summarize each session?

Closing Thoughts: Why Bother Doing Either?

Here’s the thing about social media – it’s all about discussion. By participating in a Twitter Chat, you have the opportunity to not only humanize your brand, but also to network with potential clients and partners. Hosting a chat only amplifies these benefits, establishing your business as a leader in its field and a source of knowledge and discussion.

So at the end of the day, the benefit of Twitter Chats – on both ends – is that they promote positive brand exposure. They let you get your name out there without being too obnoxious or salesy, and as an added benefit, they can provide you with valuable knowledge that’ll make you more effective at running your organization. So with that in mind, there’s only one question left to ask:

What are you waiting for? There are plenty of Twitter Chats out there, and there’s bound to be one related to your industry. Seek it out, and see if you can’t better your business in the process.