There are many tactics companies can implement as part of a smart Twitter Marketing strategy. Growing the initial following is important as is providing the budding community you’re building with something of value to keep coming back and to spread the good word to their networks. One such tactic that offers value and brings people together is the Twitter chat. I’ve been involved with about 5 or 6 different Twitter chats as a guest and they are a unique experience. In this post I’ll share my observations about what seems to work, some logistics and a few examples of some well-run Twitter chats for the marketing and PR verticals.
1. Pick a great hashtag – The hashtag ties your Twitter chat together. It should reflect the topic and be intuitive. Examples might be: #poetry #crmchat or #seo411 – Here’s a list of over 150 chats, topics and the times they run at: Twitter Chat Schedule.
2. Decide a format and schedule – Part of what makes a Twitter chat successful is that there is a consistent time that requires little reminder and also a format that’s easy to follow. There are a certain number of early adopters on Twitter that “get” how #chats work, but there are many, many more who don’t. They’ll see a sudden flurry of #chat handles in their friend’s Tweets and wonder what’s going on. Make it easy for the audience you’re after to join in and know when the next chat is happening. While there may be more, I’ve seen 2 formats standout.
- Free for all. This is where the chat is treated like a cocktail party and people start posting comments and questions and anyone that wants to, will reply. Its very much many to many and without the use of a tool like Tweetchat can be difficult to follow.
- Outside guests or experts. If you start the chat, you’re the moderator. One of your duties if you choose the format of bringing in a guest is to find guests that your attendees respect and want to hear from. Prep the guest with how you run your chats in advance. Use a template email or web page to communicate this. If your guest hasn’t participated in a chat before, they might need a little more guidance but once you’ve done one, the rest go pretty similarly. Prep the guest with questions in advance so they have an idea of what the specific topic will be. This helps them provide better answers more efficiently.
Promote the guest and get the guest to promote the chat. Tell the guest what your group responds well to and give examples if you can. This will provide some appreciated guidance for the guest and help give the group what they’re looking for.
3. Create a web page explaining your chat – While a Twitter @account for the chat is a good idea, it’s also a good idea to have a static web page somewhere that the Twitter account can link to. People should also be able to easily find the About #chat page through search engines, so get some other pages or chat members to link to it using the chat name. Explain what the purpose of the chat is, who the moderator(s) are, when the chat runs (including time zone), if the chats are archived and where, and make it easy for visitors to spread the good word about the chat by offering social sharing links/buttons.
This page can live on your blog, your web site or you can easily setup a page on posterous, wordpress or blogger. If you want to explain more than what is reasonable on a Twitter page, a web page offers more room. A Blog, Facebook Fan page or LinkedIn group that explains the Twitter #chat can also be used and several #chats mentioned below do just that.
4. Recognize #chat participants – Call out participants during the chat by retweeting interesting things they’ve posted. List all chat participants on the #chat web page. Offer a TweepML list of participants to make it easy for someone to follow everyone in one in a single click. You might also manage a Twitter list of past guests, another list for moderators and another list for most active participants. Possibly promote the Twitter list on services like Listorious. Besides ensuring quality questions, on-topic tweets and great guests, recognition is a powerful thing to do in order to grow a Twitter #chat group.
5. Archive the #chat – Saving the threads of discussion that occur during the chats can be very useful afterwards. This is especially true if you have a good guest and/or participants that come prepared. I like to have about 10-12 pre-written Tweets with links to useful resources prepared before the chat even starts. That way when people ask questions I can answer immediately. I’ve done this several times and it’s gone over pretty well. Look through the Twitter stream of the chat and archive the whole thing or just the most interesting threads into a web page. Archived Twitter chats are an excellent source of content for your blog. Over time, archived chats can be a very useful repository of information, attract links and create search traffic for your web site.
A few of my archived chats include:
- #socialmedia (SEO and Social Media)
- #blogchat (SEO for Blogs)
- AdWeekMedia Connect (Intersection of Search & Social Media)
- #twt20 (Search & Social Media)
- #MeasurePR (SEO and PR Measurement)
Now that I’ve shared a few tips that Twitter #chat editors or moderators should consider, here are some of the best marketing and PR #chats to check out:
- #blogchat – Run by @mackcollier, #blogchat is a long running chat that covers all aspects of blogging on Sunday nights from 8-9pm Central. View transcripts and other info here.
- #journchat – Run by @prsaraevans, #journchat is another long running weekly conversation (Mon 7-10pm Central) between journalists, bloggers and PR people.
- #pr20chat – Moderated by @PRtini and @JGoldsborough, #pr20chat is a weekly conversation (Tues 8PM EST) that focuses on public relations 2.0 topics.
- #socialmedia – @Marc_Meyer & @JasonBreed moderate the #socialmedia chat, which of course, is all about social media and occurs Tuesdays at 12 pm Noon EST. Each episode is also tagged with a number, such as #sm1 #sm2 etc. View the live stream here.
- #commschat – @AdamVincenzini & @EmilyCagle run this UK-based Twitter ‘communications’ chat #commschat Monday nights, 8pm (UK time) on traditional / social media, PR, journalism, blogging. See the Blog and FB page.
- #measurepr – Run by @shonali, #measurepr covers measurement topics within the public relations and social media industries that kicked off on February 2, 2010, and is held bi-weekly on Tuesdays from that date, from 12-1 pm ET.
- #prstudchat – Run by @dbreakenridge & @valeriesimon, the monthly #PRStudChat (I thought “stud” meant “manly” not “student” the first time I saw it) provides a platform for conversation between Public Relations Students, Educators and Professionals. See more on WTH.
- #imcchat – Moderated by @bethharte & @abarcelos, #IMCChat is a chat for all of those interested in Integrated Marketing Communications and runs every Wednesday night at 8pm ET.
What are your favorite Twitter chats for Marketing and Public Relations topics? What advice do you have for running or participating in a successful Twitter chat?
Besides the tips above, there are great posts on how to run and participate in Twitter chats on Mashable, from Mack Collier and here.