Twitter chats are a great way to interact with followers and fans, and also to cultivate a better understanding of your community. A Twitter chat is an online, public forum that revolves around a central conversation theme.
For PR folks, Twitter chats are useful for getting your client in front of key media and influencers. When done right, they can even position a client as a leader in his or her field.
When it comes to social media, many make the mistake of going the Field of Dreams route, assuming that “if you build it, they will come” – and that’s just not the case. A successful Twitter chat requires planning and strategy. Here are some tips to make your Twitter chat a blockbuster.
Create a Plan
Twitter chats can run between one and two hours, and you want to keep the conversation flowing. Think of it as an event, and your plan as the Run of Show, because essentially that’s what it is.
Consider your target audience when choosing a theme and time. Think of a broader theme when trying to reach a larger audience, but be mindful of the time when targeting the 9-5 crowd. Lunchtime or mid evenings work best for those in the office during the day.
Own Your Hashtag
Be sure to make your hashtag unique to your client and topic in order to own and track the conversation. A simple search on Google and Twitter will ensure that your hashtag isn’t being used by anyone else, and you eliminate the risk of having off-topic tweets in your chat. A good rule of thumb on hashtags: if it’s been used more than 5 times in the last month, look for another one.
Surely you can moderate the Twitter chat by yourself, but this is a good opportunity to call on your client’s contacts (i.e. media or partner companies) to draw in a larger crowd. This will also foster organic interest from the audience. Remember, this is an opportunity to communicate candidly with your audience.
The moderator’s role is to make introductions, announce the start and end of the chat, retweet the best questions/comments and thank everyone for participating, so choose someone who can devote to the entire hour (or two).
Promote, Promote, Promote
Once the date, time, theme and moderator are set, promote your Twitter chat to your client’s followers and be sure to post on all social profiles to cast a wide net. Also, don’t forget to send an invitation to select key media as well. They may not participate, but getting your client on their radar helps to build relationships.
Let’s face it, everyone loves free stuff, so make your Twitter chat fun and interesting for your audience, and give a prize to drive traffic. It can be anything: Best question, funniest point, best product picture. Feel free to be creative here, and don’t forget to congratulate the winner on your social media channels – everyone likes a little recognition!
Next up, some of our favorite Twitter tools for chats and other real-time events.