Despite hundreds of Twitter chats taking place each week, they still remain a mystery.
And I can see why.
They're fast-paced Twitter talk (that'd be 140 characters) of conversation.
All that chatter is focused around a single topic and brought together by a hashtag.
Feel your head spinning yet? 😀
Add in the feeling of overwhelm, and you get a sense of why using Twitter chats to grow a business seems elusive.
But there's so much opportunity in Twitter chats. You just haven't tapped into it yet.
If you want to take your Twitter chat know-how up a notch and use them to grow your business - this is the article for you!
Below, I'll explain how top performing marketers grow their businesses with Twitter chats.
There are 2 ways to take part in Twitter chats.
The first way is to attend relevant chats in your niche. No matter what industry you're in, there's likely a chat where you can connect with like-minded professionals.
We are going to jump beyond that point.
Let's make the assumption that you've been attending chats for a while. You're ready to take more of a leadership role and start your own chat.
But where do you begin?
And more importantly, what do high performing marketers do differently to ensure results?
These are both good questions.
Let me describe it like this...
If you're thinking like an ordinary marketer, you might assume a Twitter chat is a one-hour event each week.
If you're thinking like a extraordinary marketer, you know the work for a Twitter chat doesn't end after the one-hour event.
The sophisticated marketers who run successful Twitter chats know the work continues throughout the week.
Understanding this difference is the key for unlocking the success of your chat and using it to grow your business!
I've broken down the process into 17 bite-sized steps:
- Determine the Goals of Your Chat
- Choose Your Hashtag
- Choose Your Topics
- Choose Your Day and Time
- Choose Your Guests
- Create a Tickler System for Guest Follow Up Before and After the Chat
- Create a Doc with Your Formatted Chat Tweets (so you can copy and paste into Twitter at the exact right time)
- Create and Schedule your Promotional Tweets
- Schedule Your Relevant Link Tweets (include images)
- Schedule Your Reminder Tweets for Participants
- Create Your Chat’s Visual Marketing Tweets (to tweet manually during your chat)
- What to do 45 Minutes before Your Chat
- What to do 10 Minutes before Your Chat
- What to do During Your Chat
- What to do 30 Minutes after Your Chat
- What to do the Day after Your Chat
- What Data to Capture and How to Track Your Chat Progress
I'm going to go into detail on each one of these steps.
Keep in mind, every chat is different. Although the general steps are the same, the details will vary depending on what works best for you.
My hope is that you'll experiment with the process I describe and make it even better!
Step 1 -- Determine the Goals of Your Chat
I know... I know... we are constantly telling you to set goals when it comes to your social media marketing. Twitter chats are no different.
Social media marketing can get really slippery, really fast. If you don't know what your goals are, it's tough to track your progress and justify your time.
Take a few minutes to write down the goals of your Twitter chat.
Perhaps your chat goals will look something like this:
- Increase brand awareness
- Make people fall in love with your brand
- Increase thought leadership around your brand
- Increase your brand's social media influence
- Increase your brand's trust and credibility
The next step is to assign a specific metric to each goal. The idea is that you'll track those metrics (analytics) weekly.
These metrics might include:
- engagement data
- number of chat tweets
- impressions (timeline deliveries)
- number of chat participants
- chat reach
- number of hashtag mentions throughout the week
- blog post shares
- website traffic on links tweeted during the chat
This data will help you determine your chat's progress and growth. This data will also help you determine what needs to be tweaked for better results.
We'll cover this in detail later in this post.
Step 2 -- Choose Your Hashtag
All the steps in this process are important, but to me, this one is the most critical.
The reason is because almost every aspect of your chat can be tweaked throughout the process -- except the hashtag.
You will begin building a reputation with your hashtag from the moment your chat begins. So choose your hashtag wisely!
Here are some tips:
1. Keep your chat hashtag short
Remember, people will need to put this hashtag in every tweet during the chat. Keep it short and sweet!
2. Make your chat hashtag easy to spell
There's nothing more frustrating in a Twitter chat than losing people because they can't spell the hashtag.
In some cases, people will learn how to spell your hashtag along the way.
For example, I love @DIYMarketer's #BizapaloozaChat. But I'm not gonna lie, it took me a while to learn how to spell the hashtag correctly.
In her case, the chat has gone on to be successful regardless of my inability to spell Bizapalooza in the beginning.
In other words, if you have a hard-to-spell hashtag, you can still make it work.
But if you're choosing between two hashtags and one of them is easy to spell, help your participants by choosing the easy one.
3. Make the hashtag related to your business
Best case scenario -- incorporate your company name into the hashtag. But depending on the length and other details, this isn't always possible.
The most important thing is -- don't be random (unless your chat topics will be random too).
Relate your hashtag to what your business is about, and who you want to attract. Your chat hashtag will become part of your branding. Have fun with it!
Here are some examples of hashtags for successful chats. Some are clever, some are straightforward, but they all work.
You can click over to Twubs for tons of chat hashtag inspiration.
Note: You don't have to have the word "Chat" in your hashtag for it to catch on!
Step 3 -- Choose Your Topics
Your chat topics are critical to your chat's success. If you don't choose topics that interest people, they won't come to your chat!
But also know, it's tough to hit a home run with every chat topic. I recommend choosing each topic carefully.
Also, it will make your life a lot easier if you plan your topics a month (at least) in advance. That way, you aren't scrambling for a good topic at the last minute.
How do you know if your topic will resonate with your audience?
It's not as hard as you might think.
Think about the problems you solve for your customers. Why do they choose to buy your product or service?
Make your chat topics educational and solve their problems. Teach them how to do something they're struggling with.
The jobs-to-be-done framework can help you uncover key info that will help you determine the best chat topics.
Put yourself in your customers and potential customers' shoes. What do they want to know about?
No matter how tempting it might be, don't make your chat self-promotional.
Instead, approach it from the perspective of providing VALUE for your audience.
High performing marketers understand this concept. It's part of the secret sauce for building successful chats fast!
Step 4 -- Choose Your Day and Time
Most chats are weekly, but you may choose to do a monthly chat instead. Some people get their feet wet with a free-standing chat that isn't designed to build over time.
When it comes to choosing the day and time for your chat -- just follow 2 rules.
1. Don't schedule your chat so it overlaps with another popular chat in your niche. You don't want to force people to choose between your chat and another one.
2. Do schedule your chat on a day/time when your customers and potential customers are online!
Dig into your Twitter analytics to find out the times of day when you get the most engagement on your tweets.
Remember, the most optimal day and time for your chat might not be the most optimal time for your personal schedule.
But like so many other aspects of social media, it's about your audience, not you. You might even need to schedule your chat in the evening during your off time. Be flexible.
It will be worth it. I promise!
Step 5 -- Choose Your Guests
No worries, you don't have to book a guest for all your chats.
But high performing marketers know that having the right guest for the right topic can increase results (and the reach of your chat) tremendously!
Your guest will expose your brand to a whole new audience, and vice versa. It's a win-win.
The key here is to choose your guests carefully.
After you've chosen a handful of chat topics, think about who the experts are for each one of those topics.
Of course you'll be tweeting your own tweets from your brand during the chat too. (especially if one of your goals is to develop thought leadership)
But it's also nice to incorporate the opinions of another expert on the topic, and you do that by inviting guests.
This is where social media relationship building is critical. Start making those important connections with niche experts immediately.
For example, Post Planner collaborated with CoSchedule for #ViralChat recently. It was a win-win and a huge success all around.
You could even consider creating a buzz about your chat by openly inviting guests!
Step 6 -- Create a Tickler System for Your Guest Follow Up Before and After the Chat
People are busy. Like really, really busy.
Although your Twitter chat may be at the top of your priority list, it's not at the top of everyone else's priority list.
It's important to remember to follow up with your chat guests -- especially if you're booking them several weeks or a month ahead of the chat date.
I usually follow up with guests once a week until the week of the chat. That way, I can be sure the chat stays top-of-mind.
Then during the week of the chat, I follow up a few times (including the day of the chat) just to be sure the guest is ready to go.
You might also consider confirming the time since time zones can be tricky when you're collaborating with people around the world.
And don't forget your post-chat follow up!
Send a "thank you" note or email to your chat guest(s) after the chat. I recommend including some data about the chat and even a small gift to thank them for their valuable time.
Step 7 -- Create a Doc with Your Formatted Chat Tweets (so you can copy and paste into Twitter at the right time)
There are a few different chat formats, but the one that I recommend is the Q&A format.
Assuming you use that format, it's important to type your tweets ahead of time and record them in a doc.
Because engagement and interaction during your chat is the key to leveraging it to grow your business.
You can't interact with your chat participants if you are busy trying to write your tweets.
Twitter chats move fast, and they happen in real time.
You'll be most successful if you type all your tweets into Twitter ahead of time (so they fit) and then copy them over into a doc.
That way, you can paste them into Twitter at the exact right time.
Here's an example:
Why don't I recommend that you schedule these tweets?
For 2 reasons.
1. Sometimes a question sparks a lot of engagement. When that happens, you want to let your audience discuss it fully before tweeting the next question. The schedule you set for yourself is just a guide.
2. I don't like depending on a scheduling app to tweet chat tweets at the exact right time.
Call me a control freak -- but I like to tweet those important tweets manually at just the right time.
Here is an example of a Google doc with the chat questions already formatted. Then our guest, CoSchedule, filled in their answers.
(obviously there doesn't have to be 3 answers for each tweet -- sometimes there's more, sometimes there's less)
Step 8 -- Create and Schedule Your Promotional Tweets
It's important to promote your chat before the day of the chat.
Don't just tweet text to promote your chat. Create an image!
I recommend that your image includes:
- Your logo
- Your chat hashtag
- Your topic
- The date and time of the chat
Your audience should be able to get all the info they need by glancing at that image in their Twitter stream.
Here are several examples:
Schedule your promotional images to tweet a few times each day for a week leading up to your chat. (learn more about how to schedule your tweets)
Since over 50% of Twitter users are on Instagram, consider creating a 1080 x 1080 promotional image for Instagram too.
Don't forget to send your guest(s) your promotional images. That way, they can promote their investment in your chat with their own audiences!
Step 9 -- Schedule Your Relevant Link Tweets (include images)
One of the most lovely things about a Twitter chat is that people are paying attention.
Unlike the rest of the Twitter stream, Twitter chats aren't over-run with bots (yet). They are full of real people who are watching the hashtag during that hour for a reason.
Since you'll have a captive audience during your chat, it's an excellent time to drive traffic to your site!
But there's a catch here...
It's important to only share relevant links. In other words, only share links that pertain to your chat topic.
Choose your links carefully (2 or 3 per chat) and see a spike in engagement on those links tweeted during the chat.
Schedule those tweets to go out during your chat. You'll be too busy interacting with participants to tweet those manually!
Here's a great example from #ViralChat:
Step 10 -- Schedule Your Reminder Tweets for Participants
High performing marketers know how important Twitter engagement is. One way to trigger back-and-forth interaction is to personally remind people about your chat!
I'm seeing more and more chat organizers doing this -- and it's effective.
You can do this a few different ways.
@JessicaNorthey, who has made a career out of her #CMchat, makes it easy for people to RSVP and receive a chat reminder before each chat.
Or you can choose to keep it super simple. You don't have to automate this if it's easier for you to just send manual tweets.
It's easy to remind past participants about your chat. Sending reminder tweets is a quick way to boost your chat attendance!
Step 11 -- Create Your Chat’s Visual Marketing Tweets (to tweet manually during the chat)
This is an extra step you won't see in many chats. But sophisticated marketers know how important this detail is.
Creating visual marketing tweets for your chat is another easy way to increase exposure and visibility for your brand.
Why tweet them manually?
Because many scheduling apps don't support gifs -- and gifs have become an important Twitter marketing tool.
Why do high performing marketers create visual content specifically for their chat?
Because they know visual content on Twitter increases chat engagement, exposure and attendance.
The idea is to reach as many people as possible with your chat. Visual content is one way to make this happen. (remember to include your chat hashtag in all your visual marketing tweets)
You can read more about how to leverage visual content at 21 of the Most Powerful Ways to Use Visual Content on Twitter.
Step 12 -- What to do 45 Minutes before Your Chat
Here we are! It's 45 minutes before your chat.
If you're like me... this is about the time when you feel your adrenaline and your energy kick into high gear!
You've gotten everything ready. What could possibly be left to do?
Here's a quick checklist of things to do in the last 45 minutes before your chat -
- Check in with your guest(s) to be sure they're ready, and they don't have any last minute questions.
- Check your internet connection. All good? Stable? If you have one, be ready to use your mobile hotspot in a pinch. (yep, that's happened to me!)
- Check in on Twitter to answer any chat questions that might have come up there.
- Get your chat pre-party going by tweeting about your chat and inviting more people to come (don't forget to use engaging gifs or funny pictures in those tweets).
- Start engaging with your audience so people see you're there and ready to go.
- Open your doc with your chat Q&A to double check everything is in order (glance at all the tweets to double check your hashtag is in each one).
Optional: Drink a cup of strong coffee or gulp down an energy drink -- things are about to get crazy!!! (for real, I do this each time) Ha!
I also stand up when I tweet each chat. It helps me to be more high energy.
You'll develop your own chat rituals that will help you rock the Twitterverse for that entire hour!
Step 13 -- What to do 10 Minutes before Your Chat
It's important to follow Twitter etiquette during your chat.
The etiquette is that you don't start the chat until the top of the hour, and you finish the chat on time.
There is likely a chat before and after yours, and it's considered rude not to respect the designated time frame for your chat.
But with that said, it's also important to start ramping up your tweets about 10 minutes before the chat officially starts. (and yes, use your chat hashtag in these tweets)
Some people choose to ramp up their tweets by doing a countdown. For example... tweets that include "10 minutes until #ViralChat!" and then "5 minutes until #ViralChat!"
Get as creative as you want with these pre-chat tweets. Again, the idea is that you start increasing the anticipation of the chat before it starts.
Also, don't forget to let your audience know that you'll be tweeting a lot during the chat!
How do you do that? Any way you'd like!
Here are a few examples:
Step 14 -- What to do During Your Chat
This blog post is about how to use Twitter chats to grow your business. And the way you interact with your chat participants during your chat is critical to your success.
It will determine how well you're able to leverage your chat to reach your business goals.
So what does that look like on Twitter exactly? What is the actionable step here?
For me, it can be summed up in 7 words.
Interact with as many people as possible.
This is a strategy I use in all my Twitter chats, and I strongly recommend it.
Because most brands don't engage with their Twitter audience. The ones that do stand out from the crowd. They are the brands we all know and love.
But how do you humanize your brand and create brand loyalty? How do you develop your brand's voice and get people to looooove you?
By interacting with them in a positive way!
And your Twitter chat is the perfect platform for that.
So welcome people to your chat. Retweet the really good tweets. Thank people for being there. And most of all, show people you're listening to their feedback and contribution in the chat.
In other words, be a gracious host!
Make people feel special, and they'll be back for your next chat.
I'm guessing your next question is...
How do I keep up with the tweets in my chat while I'm interacting with all these people at the same time?
(hence one of the reasons I stand up during my chats -- you have to be on your game!)
There are many tools you can use to manage the tweets in your chat. A quick Google search will give you many to try.
I like these 3 -
1. TweetDeck - Yes, the tool that has been around for years and years is actually an effective chat tool.
Just create a column for your chat hashtag, your own mentions and your guest's twitter page.
With those 3 columns in one view, you'll find you can keep up easily!
(well, with a little practice)
2. TweetChat - This is a tool that many marketers use and recommend for their chats. I like it, but I like separating my columns on TweetDeck better. It's just a personal preference. TweetChat is definitely worth checking out.
3. Good 'ol fashioned Twitter via the web - I can't even count how many chats I've done using multiple browsers and logins on Twitter.com.
Many marketers will tell you this isn't sophisticated enough, but I'm a fan of simplicity.
As long as your laptop has enough bandwidth to switch between browsers fast (many don't) -- you may find this to be the easiest way to keep up.
The reason you need to use separate browsers is so you can log into your brand's Twitter account on one, and your personal Twitter account on the other. (you'll want to tweet from both during the chat)
Another very simple way to keep up with it all is to recruit another human to help you tweet during the chat. Duh!!
I can effectively tweet a chat from multiple accounts at the same time, but it took me a few years and dozens of chats to develop that skill. (Wait -- is that a real skill? Ha!)
I recommend you experiment with different tools to find the one that works best for you.
Step 15 -- What to do 30 Minutes after Your Chat
You've been tweeting your butt off for an hour.
It's finally over!
Or is it?
As we already talked about, it's important to respect people's time during your chat. So, your chat is officially over at the top of the hour.
But there are still some things to do before closing your laptop and taking a break!
- Go through your hashtag and mentions feeds to be sure you didn't miss any important tweets
- Follow people and brands from your chat that you'd like to start building relationships with
- Reply to any tweets you didn't have a chance to reply to during the chat
- Make a note of any feedback during that chat that you can learn from (and maybe address at a later time)
Step 16 -- What to do the Day after Your Chat
The biggest differences between ordinary chats and extraordinary chats are the details. I'm referring to the details that will help you grow your business.
As we've already talked about, your Twitter chat will be an ongoing event. (not just one hour each week)
What I mean by that is this...
You'll want to keep your chat hashtag alive during the week. It's a subtle reminder to your followers that your next chat is coming up.
The easiest way to do this is to pull quotes and tweets out of your chat and create quote graphics with them. You can tweet these along with your chat hashtag on any day (not just the day of your chat).
Here's 2 examples:
Also, you'll want to start promoting your next chat immediately when your current chat is over.
Refer to step 8 on this list. In order to make this happen, you'll have to stay ahead with your chat topics, guests and promotional images!
Step 17 -- What Data to Capture and How to Track Your Chat Progress
Capturing and analyzing chat data is one of my favorite parts of the Twitter chat process.
You can use this data to track your progress and tweak your chat for better results.
To capture the relevant data for your chat, go back to your goals listed in step 1 of this list.
The data you record for each chat may be different based on the individual goals for that chat.
Where will you get this data?
Here are some possible sources:
- Your Twitter analytics
- True Social Metrics
- Simply Measured
- Your Google Analytics
I've used all these tools to track chat data. Each one is useful in a different way.
Your Twitter analytics is essential for tracking engagement data in an easy format.
Your Google analytics will help you track the traffic to your website during the chat.
For this blog post, I'll show you what info you can pull from Hashtracking. (but I also recommend Simply Measured and True Social Metrics)
I like Hashtracking because it presents the info in snackable format. You can compare chat stats from week-to-week at a glance.
In this example, we'll use the #ViralChat with guest Winnie Sun on May 26.
I track each chat for 7 days to capture every impression and tweet. (after all, you want to capture the impressions from your promotional tweets as well)
You might choose to only track yours for the hour of the chat -- but in my opinion, you won't be capturing all the data.
As you can see, Hashtracking shows you the impressions (timeline deliveries), number of tweets, number of contributors and reach for each chat.
It also gives you some other useful info that's interesting to see.
I recommend creating an excel spreadsheet and updating it each week with the data that is relevant to track your chat goals.
Regardless of what tools you use to track your data -- just be sure you track it (every week).
Without data, you can't determine what's working and what's not. And without that info, it will be tough to improve the performance of your chat.
Watching your stats increase each week will give you the motivation and inspiration to continue!
You can design your Twitter chat to be as elaborate or as simple as you'd like.
Some sophisticated marketers create entire websites to promote their chat. You can click over to the #CMchat website to see what I mean.
If you want to record a transcript of your chat to promote it (without creating an entire website) -- you can do that too! I recommend using Storify. It's fast and easy.
Here is an example of an #InfluencerChat recap on Storify created by @. Just click over to How to Build Influencer and Land Your Dream Speaking Gig to see the beautiful Storify layout.
But if you want to keep it simple and not publish a recap, that can work also!
(although keep in mind that creating a chat recap is a great way to repurpose your chat content)
By investing in the Twitter community and creating a value-packed chat, you'll build a loyal social media community that money can't buy. (and one that most brands wish they had!!!)
This will skyrocket your brand awareness, build trust and solidify your credibility and leadership within your niche.
All of these things are important as you use Twitter chats to grow your business.
If you'd like to continue the conversation, leave a comment below or tweet me at @adamsconsulting.