Before you take even the smallest step towards scheduling your own Twitter chat, take some time to watch and participate in other chats. It’s the single best way to get a sense of the unique “feel” and process that have become fairly standard in Twitter chats, even while there remain many aspects of a chat that you can make unique and creatively yours.
Once you’ve observed and participated in a few Twitter chats hosted by others, you can begin to prepare and plan for your own. First and foremost, decide upfront what your goals are for this chat. Do you want to increase your Twitter followers? Are you more interested in increasing the subscribers to your email list? Or do you plan to use the chat to promote a certain product? (Be careful with that last one. Twitter chats with a dominant “marketing” vibe to them rarely catch on, and may draw criticism.)
The best – and most successful –Twitter chats are planned around a specific community with a common interest or set of interests that can be discussed and explored in the chat. So brainstorm several possible topics for your first few chats.
Then try to obtain your community’s thoughts on those topics. One good way to do this is by way of a short web survey; you can use SurveyMonkey or Google Forms for this purpose. Review this post for ideas on creating surveys that work. Or ask your subscribers and followers directly for their suggestions.
Next, select your hashtag. Give this some serious thought and don’t leave it to the last minute! In fact, you should determine your hashtag before you do even the first thing to promote your chat – you don’t want to pick a hashtag that’s already been claimed and have to change it a day before the first chat!
Good chat hashtags should be:
- Short! Remember you only have 140 characters to start with, and you want most of those to be spent by your chat participants offering substantive comments.
- Easy to remember – they should also make sense to your participants
- Easy to type – don’t choose words that are often misspelled, or any hashtags with numbers (that will cause your participants to wonder “is it eight, or is it 8?”)
- Unique – as much as possible, at any rate. At a minimum search Twitter and Facebook for your hashtag, and use a search engine to make sure it has no unsavory or unwanted associations that might cause trouble for you or your brand.
Once you select your hashtag, use it anywhere you promote your chat.
Twitter Chat Tools
You have a variety of tools to choose from to host and view your Twitter chat. Some of the more popular and frequently recommended are:
You can also use more generalized Twitter tools, such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck for Twitter chats. Simply set up a dedicated stream based on a search for your selected hashtag. Nativity is another tool to consider; the new premium service allows for Twitter chat monitoring among other features.
Promoting Your Twitter Chat
The first and most important place you’ll want to promote your Twitter chat is – you guessed it – on Twitter itself. Start at least a week in advance, and schedule some fun teaser tweets periodically throughout that week leading up to the chat itself.
You’ll also want to create a dedicated page on your website about the chat, if it’s going to be a recurring event. Include the time/date of each scheduled chat, the topics for each chat, and the hashtag you’ve selected. You may also want to include on this page a short description of Twitter chats in general and some links to the tools mentioned above, to help your followers who aren’t as familiar with Twitter follow along and participate.
Other places and ways to promote your new Twitter chat:
- Add your chat to this calendar at twchat.com and to this Google Docs spreadsheet.
- Promote the chat on other social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
- Ask your participating guests, if any, to share with their lists and followers.
- Send out an announcement in your email newsletter to subscribers.
About The Author: Stefanos Anastasiadis: I love writing about anything related to home repairs in my blog HomeAdviceGuide. I always strive to provide the best possible and most accurate information to help homeowners. Visit HomeAdviceGuide for the most up-to-date advice on home improvement and repair project costs.