Want to find a way to connect on a deeper level with your audience? Maybe generate a little bit of conversational buzz about your brand?
Twitter chats are one of the best ways to do just that!
We’ve already gone over hosting, participating in and excelling at Twitter chats, so we wont waste your time repeating ourselves. This post is going to be a straight-forward tactical guide to executing your next Twitter chat.
I’m going to go through the actionable planning steps and tools we use every week to put on Twitter chats for ourselves and our clients.
Phase 1: Planning
The planning phase should not be taken lightly. Give you and your team at least 1 hour for this process.
Let’s Talk Goals
The very first step in your process should be to plan out what you want to accomplish with your Twitter chat. Decide on your goal before all else and that will help dictate the rest of the process.
Some reasonable goals might be:
- Generate brand recognition around a given subject
- Attract followers and/or influencers around a given subject
- Build rapport with current followers
- Gather insight about audience pain points
Once you’ve determined your goal you can then begin the next part of your planning phase, the hashtag.
Finding Your Hashtag
The key ingredient in getting people in the same place (metaphorically) for a Twitter chat is a pre-determined hashtag. Without a hashtag the conversation doesn’t take place, it’s just a bunch of people tweeting.
We recommend you try to incorporate your brand into the hashtag whenever possible. This allows for the best recognition and in most cases will avoid any potential conflicts with other people using it.
Do a quick search for the hashtags you have in mind to make sure that they’re not already being used. As long as they’re not being used (or being used in very low, infrequent volume) you will want to head over to register your hashtag with either Twubs or TweetReports.
Decide a Topic
Based on the goal(s) you’ve determined in the first planning step, decide on which topic will best help you achieve that goal.
For example, Weal Media’s goals for #WealChat is to connect with more people interested in content marketing and social media and generate brand recognition around those topics. So when we get together to decide on the topic for the chat we know it has to be related to content marketing and social media.
Once you have the topic, now it’s time to formulate your discussion.
Questions to Spark Discussion
At this point I recommend hashing out a bunch of questions that would be relevant to your chosen topic. Don’t edit yourself or your team, just brainstorm as many topic-relevant questions as you can.
Once you have a sizable list of potential questions (I’d say at least 12) then you can begin refining and choosing the questions that will spark the best conversation.
Understand that during the actual Twitter chat you should probably give no less than 5 minutes per question to give people ample time to comment. Depending on how long you want the Twitter chat to go you may need more or fewer questions. A good rule of thumb is to have 7-8 questions.
Phase 2: Landing Page
You’ll want to have a landing page on your website that tells people about your Twitter chat. List all the vital info including:
- Day and time
- Official hashtag
- General subject matter (i.e. No-nonsense digital marketing discussion)
Your landing page doesn’t need to be complicated, it just needs to give the basic information so that know what your twitter chat is about and when it happens. Take a look at our Twitter Chat Landing Page for example.
You’ll notice that we not only have all of the vital information about our Twitter chat but we also give people the ability to add the event to their calendar and subscribe to an email list.
The email list is not something I’ve seen a lot of people doing, and to me it’s a must-have! The benefit of being on the email list is to be reminded of the event and informed ahead of time of the questions we’ll be asking.
Pretty neat idea huh?
Phase 3: Connect with Your Target Audience
If you’re already using social media to strategically connect with your audience, this part will be easy. You have already done your market research right?
Let’s assume you have. You should have identified several of your high-priority target audience members and know how to connect with them on Twitter. All you need to do is simply reach out on Twitter and let them know you’d love to see them at your Twitter chat.
It’s also a great idea to continue cultivating relationships with influential people who are interested in what your Twitter chat will be about. See if you can find what other chats they are a part of and participate.
Phase 4: Promote, Promote, Promote
Now that you’ve got all your ducks in a row, it’s time to promote your Twitter chat.
Blog About It
The first thing you should do is announce it on your blog. After all, that is where your best content marketing efforts should be. Those who are already reading your content should be the first ones to know about it.
Be sure to include a link to your landing page! That way people will be able to bookmark it, share it, or sign up for your email list.
Next, if you have an email list you should ensure that they’ve seen the announcement. Send them an email notifying them of the blog post or just give them the information.
Broadcast to All Social Channels
Cross promotion is a very important part of any social media marketing campaign. Just because this is a Twitter chat doesn’t mean that your Pinterest followers shouldn’t know about it.
Cross-platform pollination is a great way to bridge the gap between people who are following you on one network but maybe haven’t followed you on another. So be sure you don’t leave out any network in your Twitter chat promotion.
Promoting on Twitter
Once you tweet out your blog post announcing your chat, you’ll want to pin that tweet to your Twitter profile.
This way whenever someone visits your profile page that will be the first tweet they see.
You can also use this same tactic on Google+ since it also offers the ability to pin posts to your profile page.
Remember also, you should repeat your tweets for increased exposure. Not everybody is online right when you share a tweet, so spaced repetition is vital to getting the most eyes on your shares.
Promoted tweets are also a good way to go if you have a bit of marketing budget and some experience using the Twitter Advertising platform.
With that said, you can always use paid social advertising on Facebook, Pinterest or Google AdWords (using +Post Ads) as well. We recommend learning a bit about audience targeting and reading up on best practices first though so that you are getting the best (most cost-effective) results.
Twitter Chat Lists & Directories
As we’ve stated previously about excelling at Twitter chats, you can submit your Twitter chat to a list or directory. Popular directories include:
These are great ways to get noticed by other frequent Twitter chatters and to discover more Twitter chats yourself.
Phase 5: Scheduling Your Questions
When your Twitter chat is live you want to be doing as much as you can to engage your audience. So scheduling your questions ahead of time will free you up to engage more.
You can also use social media scheduling tools such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social, or even Tweet Deck (which I’ll talk about in a little bit).
Formatting the Questions
Each question should be formatted in a recognizable way. Most twitter chats follow this structure:
— Weal Media (@WealMedia) May 11, 2015
Starting with the letter ‘Q’ and the number of the question you are one followed by the actual question, ending with the hashtag.
Remember, you only have 140 characters to get these questions out. So make sure they’re quick and to the point.
Open & Close the Chat
We begin our chats with a welcome tweet that lets everyone know what the topic for the week is. It also gives people an opportunity to begin connecting with one another.
— Weal Media (@WealMedia) May 11, 2015
We also mark the end of every Twitter chat with a final tweet that thanks everyone for participating. It also gives them one last call to action to be there for the next week.
— Weal Media (@WealMedia) May 11, 2015
Again, scheduling everything ahead of time not only frees you up to engage fully, but it also takes a lot of the pressure off of the whole experience.
Timing of the Chat
You should have already decided how long you want to chat to be. Most Twitter chats go for about an hour. You’re welcome to go for 30 minutes, but I don’t recommend shorter than that.
If you’re shooting for an hour (as previously stated) you’ll want to have seven or eight questions. This means to fill the hour you will need to have between 5-7 minutes between each tweet (including your opening and closing tweets).
So our typical schedule looks like this:
- 3:00pm – Welcome tweet
- 3:05pm – Question 1
- 3:12pm – Question 2
- 3:19pm – Question 3
- 3:26pm – Question 4
- 3:34pm – Question 5
- 3:43pm – Question 6
- 3:50pm – Question 7
- 3:57pm – Final “Thank You” tweet
Now, we don’t always have the same amount of questions each week, but that gives you a good idea of how to structure the schedule. This allows for ample time between questions to allow people to answer and hopefully generate some side conversation.
Phase 6: Game Time
Now it’s time to do the actual Twitter chat. This is the easy part. If you’ve done all the work in phases 1-5 then you’ll have your work cut out for you.
To participate in and engage in the actual chat there’s a number of tools you can use to make participation in a Twitter chat easier for yourself.
Both Twubs and Twchat (mentioned above) are great ways to participate in a chat as they offer a “room” where it will automatically filter a stream of only tweets with the chat hashtag. Some other great tools are:
Personally I recommend TweetDeck. Ever since Brian Fanzo turned me back on to it a couple of months ago it has been my go-to Twitter management tool. It’s especially great for Twitter chats because you can utilize the built-in keyboard shortcuts and Twitter’s new Quote Tweet function.
The only drawback to TweetDeck is that you have to remember to add the hashtag with every time. With the web apps Tweetchat, Nurph, Twubs, and Twchat the hashtags are automatically added for you.
Phase 7: Follow Up
Now, just because the chat is over doesn’t mean the work is done. Once it is all said and done you have the opportunity to make sure the conversations and relationships continue to develop.
Add every participant that you can to a Twitter list with the name of your Twitter chat. You can either make it private for your own internal monitoring or you can make it public as a way of connecting all the participants. The choice is yours.
Use this list to frequently check in with participants and develop those relationships over time. This is how you will develop true advocacy and discover your best fans.
Phase 8: Rinse & Repeat
Once you’ve got the first Twitter chat under your belt, the following ones will be much easier. After you’ve done a half a dozen, it will be easy-peazy.
Consistency is the name of the game though. Whether you’re doing a weekly or a monthly Twitter chat you need to be consistent.
Final Bonus Tips
If you really want to stand out from the crowd and go the extra mile with your chats, here’s a few tips that have proven to work really well.
We know that visual marketing is a powerful thing. Heck, nobody pushes it harder than I do. Why? Because it works.
You’ll notice all the examples given above have visuals attached to them.
Visuals stand out and capture attention. They also make it so that the questions in your Twitter chat are near impossible to miss because they stand out. There’s nothing more frustrating than missing a question because it blended into the stream.
We create a Title image and an image for each question in the chat every single week. If you’ve got the time and resources to do it, we highly recommend it.ProTip: Create visuals for your questions to make them stand out in a sea of text.Click To Tweet
Another great way to follow-up the chat is to write a blog post with some highlights from the event. This gives you weekly blog content and a way to drive people back to your home base (your website).
You’ll notice we also do this for every single #WealChat.#ProTip: Create blog post recaps of your #TwitterChat for those who couldn't make it.Click To Tweet
And There You Have It
Walk though these 8 Phases for your Twitter Chat and you will undoubtedly find incredible results. You will connect with more people and grow a thriving community of fans and followers.
Just remember that Twitter Chats in and of themselves are nothing without a well-planned and executed Social Media Marketing strategy. Be sure that you have one in place and know how they will help you achieve your greater business goals.
If you have any questions or would like some help performing any pieces of this process, we’re happy to help!