Twitter chats are when you chat on Twitter around a certain subject and mark each tweet with a hashtag (#) denoting that you are associating it with that chat or topic. While many people utilize those hashtags like keywords to be associated with on Twitter, a Twitter chat happens at one specific time and everyone gathers tweeting about that subject.
One way to shine on Twitter chats, are to participate. It helps position you and also makes you visible to some potentially great connections. There are lots of articles on how to participate in a chat yet the best teacher is experience. Jump on one and start learning by doing. If you’re thinking about hosting a Twitter chat and you’ve never been on one, then stop thinking about hosting one and jump on an actual chat. There’s a plethora of them! And, yet, there’s not much out there on how to lead a successful one.
Why lead a Twitter Chat?
- Be seen as an expert to your target market
- Connect with other experts and resources
- Do real time research
- Nurture relationships with other industry leaders
- Own your niche
For a year, I’ve lead #brandchat – a weekly conversation on Twitter discussing every aspect of BRANDING. I co-created the chat with @davidsandusky and we have learned and grown from the process. I started my “chat” days back with #journchat (created by @prsarahevans) when I was one of her media list researchers creating the wiki associated with #journchat and the rapidly growing list of chatters. I also was a very active early participant in the chat and still lurk there quite regularly. I’ve also participated in lurked in several other chats. Some that have guest speakers, some that are rapid fire questions, some that last “way too long”, some that aren’t moderated and some that or so disorganized you don’t ever want to go back!
Mashable had a great article on some of the very basics of starting a Twitter chat which I refer to the who, what, why, when and where piece. But, if you think that’s all there is to it, you’re mistaken. The article covers only the very, very basics of starting a good Twitter chat but none of the nuances of really making it successful. Take it from a seasoned chat moderator – there is much more happening behind the scenes and if you don’t have a system down to the chat – you’ll be overwhelmed and discouraged.
@DrFernKazlow has mentioned to me several times that she loves that I show my “personality” on the chat and really engage those chatting and those just ‘peeking in’. I can do that because I’ve put a SYSTEM ( which is an acronym for Save Yourself Significant Time, Energy and Money) in place that frees me up from the chat logistics and mundane so that they are running while I “engage” (and isn’t that one of the cornerstone benefits of “social” media?)
Here are some basics:
Create a Tweetgrid and copy that URL
Give it to your chatters and let them know that you’ve already set it up to follow the chat. If you don’t know how to use Tweetgrid, invest some time learning. There’s some great tutorials on YouTube or you can see the video I’ve picked out to educate first time chatters on how to use Tweetgrid.
Learn how to use Tweetchat
You’ll have to have another way to keep up with the chat, too. Tweet chat is a great tool. But, do know that sometimes it’s “wonky” (it doesn’t help when Twitter is wonky right alongside with it). Still, you need to know it because it has some wonderful tools like the retweet and refresh speed along with smart pausing that are invaluable to any chat moderator.
Create a Twitter account for the moderator
Twitter chats are ‘high speed chats’ (ask any BRANDido –term of endearment for people who chat on Twitter) and if you are moderating the chat from your Twitter account which has your picture as your avatar – chances are you’ll get lost in the shuffle. Nothing is more frustrating then reviewing a host of tweets (that keeps moving and adding more to the list so you never feel like you completely read even one tweet) to pick out what questions you’re on or who the moderator is. Your avatar for the moderator account needs to be succinct and easy to spot in a sea of tweets.
Have two Twitter accounts open when you chat
High-speed chats results in typos. I laughingly say to BRANDidos that “the danger of being an active member of #brandchat is that you can find yourself in that fiber-filled cone of silence known as #BRANchat”. Notice the letter D is missing from that hashtag. Many a frustrated chatters find themselves ‘not seen’ by other chatters when they make this mistake. And, sometimes the chat programs won’t let you be seen because someone from that ISP has been denoted as a spammer before on Twitter so your tweets are left out in the cold. A second account helps you see who has sent direct messages to the moderator account. You can then “bring people into” the chat by @ replying to them but you won’t know to bring them in if you don’t keep a watchful eye for them.
There is so much to Twitter chats and it’s a great way to quickly gain visibility and credibility which must occur, whether you’re an employee or an entrepreneur, before you can garner profitability.
Maria Elena Duron | chief engagement officer and speaker with buzz2bucks | word of mouth marketing firm. She is also co-founder of #brandchat, a weekly conversation on Twitter. Join us weekly as we discuss company and personal brands!