Tweet, Tweet.

twitter chat

Twitter chats aren’t just for celebrities anymore – teachers, gamers, doctors, moms, the elderly (seriously: #AgingChat) and everyone in between are forming their own Q&As on a weekly basis. Businesses and brands have realized that Twitter chats can promote brand awareness, create community and humanize your brand, establish presence and expertise, and turn followers into advocates and passers-on, all while giving much needed one-on-one customer support. Yet, not all of these conversations are going as smoothly as expected; many businesses just pick a hashtag and run with it, but there’s a certain way to handle chats. Here are a few dos and don’ts before you step into the chatting twittersphere.

1. Don’t Forget to Plan

This includes completing a few tasks that will ensure you avoid falling into some common pitfalls. Basically, do everything JPMorgan didn’t.

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Instead: Make sure your timing is on point. Plan a chat after you’ve established brand authenticity on the platform and right before an event so you can make announcements. Once you know the timing is good for your brand, make sure it works for everyone else. Check the Twitter chat schedule so you don’t pick an inconvenient or clashing time, especially with one of the more popular ones that are in your industry. The final step of planning is to promote as much as possible. Remind followers on other social media platforms, your website, your blog, and keep the reminders daily on Twitter up to a week before the chat.

2. Don’t Take Already Used Hashtags

This is still somehow a common and silly mistake. How are your followers supposed to know what conversation to join if you pick something unoriginal?

Instead: Before you settle on a golden #, explore what’s already taken to avoid confusion. Make your hashtag stand out, but make sense. Then use the same hashtag every time to solidify participant followers and encourage discovery. Tip: Choose a new subtopic for every chat. Maybe your Twitter chat foundation is #UGFolkMusic, but you focus on a new artist every week. Better yet, always pick a trending topic. Own a sports merchandise business? Talk about the upcoming Superbowl.

3. Don’t Be Unorganized

The 140-character limit is hard enough; don’t make the fast-moving platform even more confusing with zero conversation structure.

Instead: Make sure to add your hashtag to every question and answer for easy following. Also, attach Q1 and A1 to signify Question 1, Answer 1, and so on. This is important for organization and optimum participation.

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4. Don’t Stick to Only Text

Remember that multimedia can work wonders. Visuals resonate with consumers more, and of course, it’s more entertaining.

Instead: Link a Google+ video for a joining of the social media forces. In the garment district? Include a photo of your Spring 2014 line asking participants their opinion on the color scheme. The possibilities are as vast as your creativity.

5. Don’t Be Unresponsive, Impersonal or Rude

This should be a given, but Michael O’Leary, Chief Executive Officer of Ryanair, doesn’t seem to know better.

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His remarks made his customers as uncomfortable as if they were taking off on a RyanAir plane. Yes, even having a well-structured Q&A can get hectic and you might miss a question, but you can always double and triple check. Being rude or offensive, however, is never acceptable. It doesn’t matter how uncouthly cool your brand is.

Instead: Pay attention to the respective numbers to your Qs and As, be attentive, and take hard questions head on. You’ll gain more respect, and each and every follower that’s taking the time to ask you something will appreciate it. Transparency and active engagement build trust and loyalty.

6. Don’t Rely Solely on Your Own People

The CEO of your company will be great for the first Twitter chat, but what about those after?

Instead: Team up with a fellow expert in your industry (especially if you’re just starting out), collaborate on subtopics, and bring in outside connections. If your partner has a large following and is experienced in Twitter chats, the first few chats are more likely to be successful. Also, this allows a mixing up of content – don’t leave your followers bored. Hosting a chat for your fitness gear brand? Bring in a health guru or personal trainer for exercise and diet pointers.

7. Don’t: Let Your Chat Fade into Oblivion and Be Void of a Lasting Impression

Instead: Utilize Storify to help you organize the best parts of your chat and publish it on your website or blog. Another great tool is Tweetreach, which measures your hashtag reach. This will help you evaluate how effective your chat was, and give you some perspective for the next one. Finally, follow up with your customers about any concerns they may have brought up during the chat and make sure they’ve been remedied. Or check in with a customer who loved your product, and make sure they’re still loving it.

Hosting a Twitter chat is a key one-on-one tool for engagement, where you can promote your brand in an organic way, bring together like-minded people for mutually beneficial conversation, and increase brand awareness and loyalty. Authenticity is what your followers are after when engaging in a Twitter chat – don’t miss out on your chance.

Do you host or participate in Twitter chats?

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