Hosting a Twitter chat can offer a great marketing benefits or turn into a total failure. Here are some of the things to consider when designing your new Twitter chat.
My niece is a music therapist and the founder of Maine Music & Health. She does her own marketing, and recently mentioned that students from a class she teaches keep reaching out to network with her, and she thought a Twitter chat might be a good way to connect and share information.
This is a great idea, in my opinion, but it made me think about the different types of Twitter chats and how they fit different audiences. As with all marketing, before jumping in to create a new Twitter chat, it’s important to strategize and plan it first! Here are things to consider when planning your Twitter chat.
1. Know Your Twitter Chat Audience
Are you going to attract an audience of experts and professionals within the topic for your Twitter chat? Or, as in the case of my niece, is the Twitter chat a way to educate students or new entrants in a profession? Is your industry mature or is it something new? Are the people conservative or outgoing and social? Is this the first chat of its kind, and therefore you may not know who will attend?
2. Find the Right Time for your Twitter Chat
This is a tough one, since popular Twitter chats can attract participants all over the world. Many popular chats take place during U.S. business hours, and others happen in the evening after work. If your audience includes people who have busy schedules (journalists on deadlines, C-suite executives who lead, lawyers who are in court), after hours might be the answer. Some chats are mid-day and seem to work.
3. Choose the Right Twitter Chat Format
If your audience consists of seasoned experts, ask questions during the Twitter chat so they can showcase their knowledge. This is typically done by starting each question with a Q and the question number: Q1, Q2, Q3, and so on. The participants then answer with A1, A2, A3 at the start of their Tweets. If your audience is mostly industry newbies or students, introduce a topic or a guest speaker, and ask some seed questions to get the conversation started. Then invite the participants to also ask questions. People love to get exposure to expert knowledge as well as the opportunity to connect with them on Twitter!
4. Seed Your Chat with Some Trusted Colleagues
Invite at least a couple of your trusted colleagues to join the chat and support you by retweeting your questions, welcoming the attendees and keeping the convo going. It’s challenging to acknowledge everyone in a chat, and people want to feel welcomed and “seen” (or “heard”?).
5. Plan Ahead for Consistency
One of the issues with some chats I’ve been on is a lack of consistency. Some weeks the chat is cancelled because a few of us log on and no one steps up to lead it. Ask your trusted colleagues and others who participate frequently if they are able to occassionally guest-host if an emergency comes up.
6. Watch How Your Twitter Chat Changes and Adjust
A new Twitter chat may start out as an opportunity for one person to share their knowledge, but the chats can change as they grow in popularity. You may find that you planned your chat for neophites in your industry to learn, but over time more and more experts join in who need to have a voice. Maybe one way to handle this is to mostly have a particpatory Q&A format, but once in a while open up the format to free-form questions for which there can be several experts to provide answers.
I hope this helps you create a strategic plan for your Twitter chat. Let me know if you start a new one, and how it goes!
Do you need help with your marketing and social media strategy? Contact New Incite today. We’ve worked with hundreds of businesses and organizations to create strategic and practical marketing plans and programs that get results.
Photo by Karunakar Rayker on Flickr, Some Rights Reserved.