Social Media University
Tweet chats are scheduled meetings where like-minded individuals discuss topics on Twitter using a specific hashtag. They’re like conferences without the hotel fare, or networking events without the sweaty handshakes. In other words, they’re a fantastic addition to your social media strategy, and loads of fun. According to Maurice Rahmey of HubSpot, they’re even something of a silver bullet for B2B brands: “TweetChats are an amazing way to get a better understanding of your fans, customers, and leads while allowing you to grow your Twitter reach.” Here are some pro tips for hosting a chat that becomes a cult classic:
1. Pick a Topic Wisely
Your Tweet chat won’t gain steam unless it fills a void in your niche—don’t pick a topic or theme that’s already successfully claimed. The theme should be broad enough to be discussed week after week, but narrow enough to attract experts. You can even discuss your products—FedEx and Cisco have successfully held brand-focused chat sessions. Even if your small brand lacks the following to host a dedicated Tweet chat, consider promoting dedicated social media “office hours.”
2. Choose a Unique Hashtag
A Tweet chat is only as strong as its designated hashtag. Pick something recognizable, and most of all, unique.
3. Designate a Time
If your brand already has an engaged audience, poll your social media followers about ideal times for a Tweet chat. Ensure that it doesn’t conflict with any similar, more popular chats in your industry.
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4. Find Smaller Themes
Most often, Tweet chats have a weekly theme that discusses concepts and trends within the meeting’s larger theme. Use breaking news or other hot topics to designate a concept you’ll center the discussion around.
5. Pick a Format
Did you know the types of Tweet chats you can pick are only as limited as your imagination? Twitter expert Pam Moore lists out the following ideas as ways you can structure your scheduled time:
- Single Topic Questions
- Multi-Topic Questions
- Topic-Free Flow
- Guest Q&A
- Simple Q&A
Unless your Tweetup has a passion for one format above another, there’s no need to stick to a single format!
6. Promote Your Event
There’s nothing worse than pouring your time, energy, and love into a virtual event, and then hearing crickets when the scheduled time rolls around. Promote your event heavily on social media channels, your blog, and to your email list. Word to the wise: While attending other scheduled Tweet chats is an amazing way to make connections, it’s not the time or place to promote yourself.
7. Prepare to Moderate
Even if you’re featuring an industry expert as a specialized host for your event, event planners should be thoroughly prepared to keep the discussion headed in a positive and helpful direction. Create engaging questions for discussion, and be sure to create more questions than you think you could possibly use in an hour. As a backup, it may not hurt to have a trending article prepared for emergency discussion material.
8. Leverage Experts
Really smart people typically love being asked to guest host Tweet chats. It’s a way to further thought leadership, share their expertise, and gain an even bigger audience. As the full-time host of a fledgling Tweet chat, leveraging an hour of an expert’s time could be your best shot at getting people to participate. Pitch requests thoughtfully and politely; after all, you are asking someone to donate an hour to your cause! If you’re lucky, having their expert seal of approval will send you a herd of new Tweeters from their audience.
9. Don’t Feed the Trolls
IMA’s social media manager Michelle Kraker has more than a few years’ experience participating in and hosting Tweetups. She reports that true trolls are relatively rare, but it’s wise for moderators to support positive discussion by not feeding agitators. Don’t engage individuals who aren’t there to learn or contribute.
10. Be Super-Welcoming
Think back to the best party host you’ve ever encountered—the kind of person who shrieks with excitement, takes people’s coats, and makes the most delicious hors d’oeuvres on the block. Be that host or hostess at your Tweet chat—greet newbies warmly, ask them to share a little about themselves, and do everything possible to remember repeat attendees (even if you have to track their Twitter handles in a spreadsheet).
11. Invite People Personally
Even the most avid Twitter fanatics can miss out on seeing your promotions in the world’s fastest-moving content stream. If you’re certain that a friend, role model, or follower would be the perfect fit for your Tweet chat community, take the time to invite them personally. They’ll be flattered.
12. Keep Monitoring Your Tag
Even though your scheduled Tweetups probably only last 60 minutes per week, your duty as moderator isn’t done when it ends for the day. Continually monitor your custom hashtag throughout the week to keep engagement juices flowing, and thank other bloggers and social media users if they promote your event.
Have you ever hosted a Tweet chat? How did it benefit your social media strategy?
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