What is a Twitter Chat and How to Turn One into a Powerful Marketing Tool

Last updated: 01-03-2020

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What is a Twitter Chat and How to Turn One into a Powerful Marketing Tool

Twitter chats are a great way to connect with industry peers, grow your following and increase your social media profile. And they’re not just helpful for individuals: hosting Twitter chats can also be a big part of a business’s social media strategy. Chats increase customer loyalty and help turn your brand into a thought-leader if done right.

Problem is, hosting Twitter chats be labor-intensive. You can just automate one and wait for the followers to come flocking. A successful chat needs a committed host, a consistent schedule and a coherent strategy.

Ready to learn how to turn Twitter Chats into a powerful marketing tool for your business?

Not sure what a Twitter chat is? Find out what a Twitter chat is here.

Twitter chats are not a good marketing tactic for every sector or even every individual business within a sector. If you’re not answering “yes” to 80% of the questions below, think seriously before investing time and effort into hosting a Twitter chat.

First, is your business’s target audience even on Twitter? Use a free tool like Followerwonk to search job keywords in Twitter bios to see if people from your target sector use the channel in large numbers. For example, a quick search for profiles with the keyword “make-up artist” finds only 16,020 results. If your business targets this demographic, get on over to Instagram Stories right now.

Hootsuite did a great job of parsing Twitter users by demographic

Second, do your current followers match up to your target? Find this out by digging into Twitter’s analytics report, which is free to all account holders. If there’s a disparity between current follower type and desired target, maybe hold off hosting a Twitter chat until you’ve built out the right network.

Thirdly, is your public social media-savvy enough to participate in Twitter chats? Some users see Twitter as a noticeboard or a newsreel, rather than a chance to connect personally and chat. Scout out Twitter chat noticeboards like Twubs to see if there are other chats happening in your sector. If there aren’t, don’t necessarily take that as a bad sign. Maybe you’re the first!

Increasing web traffic? Growing networks? Listening to customers? Finding product-market fit? All of them are valid objectives for a Twitter chat.

At least they are as long as you make them SMART. Social media marketing objectives should be objectively quantifiable and time-bound. For example, your Twitter chat objective might be to increase traffic to a business’s website. Set a specific KPI—say a 5% increase—and define a timeframe. (Create a UTM tracking link) and use it every time you share your website content to chat attendees.

You’ll be able to see how many people are using the link in the Campaigns tab of Google Analytics.

So you know your target audience is receptive to the channel. And you’ve figured out a way to track outcomes back to objectives. Now you just need to figure out what you’re actually going to chat about.

This isn’t as simple as it sounds. Like any content marketing effort, a Twitter chat has to be highly tailored to your target audience’s needs. Make a list of the most pressing challenges or problems facing your audience and plan to address one per weekly/monthly chat.

For example, say you’re trying to reach digital nomads, an active group on Twitter. You could plan a month’s worth of chats about the following topics:

Twitter chats normally follow an open Q&A format, with the host (that’s you!) posing questions and chat participants posting answers. That means you’ll want to come up with around 10-12 questions before each chat. It’s a good idea to create eye-catching images with the questions on, like SEMrush chat in the example below.

Preface questions with “Q1”, “Q2” etc, and respondents should preface answers with “A1” “A2” and so on, depending on what question they want to answer. Twitter chats move surprisingly rapidly, so implement structures like this to stay organized.

Lastly, make sure you schedule chats at a time that works for your audience. A tool like Every Timezone will help.

Pro tip — prepare rough answers to your own questions. There’s nothing worse than a Twitter chat silence… Awkward!

Getting a new Twitter chat off the ground is going to be hard work at first. There’s fierce competition for attention on social media. How can you make sure your newbie chat gets noticed by the people who matter?

Make your life a little easier by calling in the experts. The most successful Twitter chats often feature industry influencers as guests or occasional co-hosts. This gives even the newest chat credibility among the target audience.

Take the example of social media whizz Madalyn Sklar. Despite having a huge following herself, Madalyn drafts in fellow influencers to participate in her Twitter chats. This helps her reach a bigger audience, makes promotion more effective and boosts her credibility.

Madalyn also takes the chance to boost her guest’s chat, creating mutual benefit for hosts and chat guests.

Learn how to build relationships with influencers on Twitter.

You wouldn’t hold a party without sending out invitations, right? Same goes for a Twitter chat. Pre-chat promotion is absolutely essential. Without it, you’ll be chatting with yourself, and no one enjoys awkward party silences…

First off, come up with a snappy, accessible hashtag for the chat and use it every time you tweet about the chat. Hashtags should be short (remember, participants will also use the hashtag when they give answers, and you don’t want to eat into their character count), industry-relevant and easy to remember.

You can use your brand name in the chat, like Buffer does with #bufferchat, or make it more open, like #ContentWritingChat, which is organized by Express Writers. Whatever hashtag you choose, tweet it relentlessly in the days running up to the chat, along with the start time in relevant time zones.

Don’t restrict promotion to Twitter. Twitter users are usually active on other social networks, so cross-promote widely. Send out chat invitations to LinkedIn followers using an automation like DuxSoup, and introduce your chat to relevant industry groups on Facebook.

You should also register your chats on platforms like Chat Salad and The Chat Diary. These sites gather together chats happening in the coming weeks and let users search for them by topic or day.

Don’t worry too much about spamming your Twitter feed with chat promotion. Twitter is a lot more ephemeral than other social media networks and can stand more repetition. Just make sure to vary the wording of the tweet after the third repetition. Follows found that engagement decreases if you tweet the exact same thing three times or more, so mix things up to stay relevant.

The first chat is always going to be nerve-wracking. After all, you’re MC-ing and putting your brand out there. Put strategies in place to manage the chat and maximize chances of success.

Even if the first chat doesn’t go perfectly (it probably won’t!), use it as an MVP for future chats. Repeat what worked, jettison what didn’t. Iterate on future chats to make them more effective and engaging.

Once your Twitter chat is wrapped up you might be tempted to pat yourself on the back and forget about it til next week. But that’s a waste of a great marketing opportunity. Twitter chats throw up a huge amount of recyclable content. Experiment with a few ideas and see what works for your audience:

Done right, Twitter chats can generate enough content ideas to fill several days on your company blog and social networks.

There’s only one way to find out if Twitter chats will help you reach your marketing objectives—trying them out!

Invest time in planning and preparing that chat well to ensure that your audience is engaged, your chosen topics are relevant and your chat is visible. Work with colleagues or influencers to increase reach and energy. Be reactive and create original content off the back of chats.

And, most importantly, stay consistent. Your first chat won’t be a smash hit, but with patience and smart iterations, you could have a powerful marketing tool on your hands.

For more tips and how-tos on creating and hosting Tweet chats for business, check out this amazing infographic from The Whole Brain Group.

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