As invaluable as Twitter chats are to building credibility and connections, they’re surprisingly underutilized by business owners. This is a shame, not only for them, but for potential customers and clients who could really benefit from their expertise.
Twitter chats are regularly scheduled, 1-hour Twitter conversations hosted by the same moderator week after week. Though the focus of the chat in general remains the same, such as parenting, the focus of each individual chat changes. What strings them all together, though, is the common hashtag used by all, week after week, in every tweet made, such as #parentingchat.
Why are Twitter chats so exceptional at building credibility and connections?
1) Connect with influencers.
Individuals and organizations that host weekly Twitter chats tend to be influencers in their topic of interest, as are many chat participants. So seek out Twitter chats relative to your industry — it’s not only an opportunity to connect with influencers, but an open invitation from them to do just that.
2) Discover a new audience.
As you start participating in Twitter chats, you’ll see some are more crowded than others, ranging from half-a-dozen people to more than you can easily count. It may depend on the popularity of the chat in general or interest in that week’s particular topic. But keep in mind you cannot necessarily judge the value of a chat based on participant numbers alone.
First of all, the people chatting may be particularly influential and knowledgable in their topic of interest (i.e., yours). If so, their credibility alone is reason enough to participate (provided it’s a chat that’s effectively run and of genuine interest to you).
Second, who knows how many people are only following the chat. Every time you post to the chat, you’re introducing yourself to an untold number of people. And not just any people, but people interested in a topic relative to your product or service.
Third, when the host and other participants retweet your chat tweets, you’re being exposed to all of their followers as well.
3) Provide fresh, valuable content to your followers.
The more original the content you share on Twitter, the more likely it will be reshared, as hundreds (if not thousands) of people aren’t already resharing the same thing. Twitter chats give you a leg up, as you can immediately reshare brand new content from influencers in their field. Plus, you are alerting your followers to the chat in real time, so if they didn’t already know about the chat, your posts may help them discover it.
4) Use Twitter to its full conversational potential.
The best tweets are those that turn into a conversation. With Twitter chats, done right, a conversation is practically guaranteed. While simply retweeting someone’s post during a chat may not start a conversation, answering or asking a question almost certainly will.
5) Learn how to host your own Twitter chat.
The more chats you participate in, the more successful you’ll be hosting your own chat down the road. It’s important to try a few different chats, as the rhythm, tone, and efficiency of each chat varies. Give several a try, participate in your faves for a few weeks, then you should have a pretty good idea of what your own chat should look and feel like.
Twitter Chat Best Practices
- In every tweet you post about the chat, include the hashtag at the end (i.e., #cybermarkchat).
- Share or retweet a post about the upcoming chat. You can do this the day before, an hour before, five minutes before, or all of the above. You can write your own tweet, or you can retweet the announcement/reminder published by the chat host.
- Announce your presence when the chat starts. Simply reply to the chat host’s first post welcoming everyone to the chat. Something as simple as, “Great topic, glad to be here,” will do.
- Answer questions when you can (in proper format). The host will ask a series of numbered questions, with each one preceded by “Q1.” Rather than reply to that post when answering the question, start a new post with “A1” followed by your answer. As always, include the chat hashtag at the end.
- Retweet chat posts. Anything that strikes you as something you’d like your followers to know, retweet it. It could be a question, it could be an answer, it could be a random comment. Keep in mind that the only way for your retweet to show up in the hashtag chat feed is if you draft it manually, as opposed to simply hitting the retweet button. That said, there may be times you want to share something with your followers that has already been retweeted a number of times within the chat feed. In that case, you may want to just use the retweet button so that you’re not crowding the chat with information that’s already been retweeted a number of times.
- Reply to other people’s answers and comments. In addition to the formal questions asked by the host, you will find other opportunities to reply directly to participants throughout the chat.
- Feel free to take a backseat. Don’t feel like you have to jump right in with answers and comments right away. Your first few chats you may only want to retweet other people’s posts. (Or you may want to start out simply following a chat without participating at all.) Your level of participation will also depend on the nature and topic of the chat, as some questions are more geared toward “expert” advice while others are more experiential or opinion-based.
- Thank the host. At the end of the hour, after the host has thanked everyone for participating, thank the host. Simply reply to their thank you with your own, with something as simple as “Thanks, great chat!”
- Follow chat participants. Once the chat is over, take the time to look at the profiles of the participants and follow those with whom you want to connect.
- Add fave chats to your regular schedule. The more often you participate in a weekly chat, the better you’ll get to know the host and other regular participants. Equally important, the better they’ll get to know you. So if they didn’t follow you the first week, or even the second, they likely will at some point down the line. And once you have an influencer following you — an influencer who participates in a conversation with you every single week — the more likely they will pay attention to your original content and reshare it with their followers.
How To Find Twitter Chats
Twubs.com is a great place to start, a directory of Twitter chats organized by topic. Also, if you’re active on Twitter and following people relative to your industry, you likely see references to Twitter chats now and then. When you do, make it a point to be there.