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Set up and promote your Twitter chat

A step-by-step guide to set up and promote your own Twitter chat

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Twitter is a notoriously fast-paced and short-lived world. This is where 500 million tweets are sent globally each and every day, while the average lifespan of a Tweet is just 18 minutes.

In this realm, you need social smarts if you’re to engage your audience in conversation, which is exactly where Twitter chats come in.

Twitter chats are an exceptional marketing tool for bringing your audience together. This is where you can both engage with your existing community and attract new followers.

If you think you can’t set up and promote your own Twitter chat, here’s a simple ‘How To’ for absolutely nailing this compelling marketing medium…

The tech stuff – How to set up your Twitter chat

First – THIS is what a Twitter chat is…

A Twitter chat involves a group of Twitter users ‘meeting’ at a set time and date to talk about a particular subject, using a designated hashtag (#) for each Tweet.

Second, they can get pretty frantic…

If your Twitter chat is a resounding success, you’re going to have a challenge on your hands interacting with as many people as possible. There are numerous tools that are built for overseeing Twitter chats, including, Twchat, and Tweetdeck (for an in-depth review of the many Twitter tools that are out there, read: The Top 10 Free Twitter Chat Tools).

Twchat helps you to host and manage your Twitter chat
Tweetdeck is Twitter's own platform where you can host or participate in Tweet chats

Third, they tend to follow THIS format…

Your Twitter chat should start with everyone introducing themselves. For example, if the Twitter chat was about #SMEMarketingSat, I’d write, “Hi, I’m Minal – owner of Marketing by Minal. I work with SMEs every day to boost their marketing reach. Really excited to be here.  #SMEMarketingSat”.

Five minutes before the chat

Our chat will begin in five minutes. In the meantime, please introduce yourself and what you do [#chatname].

Start of the chat

It’s time to get talking [#chatname]! Tonight’s guest is @_____ from _____ who will share _____ with us…. X, Y, and Z.

Two to three minutes before the chat ends

Everyone, please thank @_____ from _____ for adding so much value to our [#chatname].

Next time around we’ll have @_____ from _____, who’ll be with us to debate  _____. See you next month!

Throughout the Twitter chat, a host (e.g. YOU) will pose questions (designated with Q1, Q2…) to prompt responses from participants (using A1, A2…). They’ll also nurture conversation between audience members.  Chats typically last an hour but can be shorter or longer depending on the chat topic.

Moving on – How to promote your Twitter chat

Be inspired by how others promote and run their chats

Before you so much as even THINK about kicking off your own Twitter chat, it’s a wise move to do some research. Seek out others who are in your industry or have similar products/services to participate in a few Twitter chats. Pay attention to the way they countdown to their event too, as…

You’ll need to remind your followers in the lead up to the day (and not just the once either)

A single Tweet will do NOTHING for your Twitter chat attendance. You need to make sure you’re telling people about it weeks in advance, and intensify the reminders leading up to the day. Just be sure to avoid re-tweeting the same post over, and over, and over. The lack of originality may make your audience think it’s a sign of things to come. Instead, mix up your media – images, GIFs, and videos, and get creative with your copy.

If you’re having guests, be sure to include them. If there are multiple people who are getting involved, shine a spotlight on each one.

Don’t forget your own social media, in particular, the covers. You can use these to promote your Twitter chat. If you need some inspiration, take a look at this post.

Creating standalone posts for your biggest fans

Take a look at your follower list and make a list of the top ten with the biggest followers themselves. Then create some custom artwork (or better yet – a video) and contact these accounts inviting them to your chat on a one-to-one basis.

Define your topic

I must stress this step – GET THIS WRONG AND YOUR TWITTER CHAT IS DEAD BEFORE THE FIRST TWEET. Put simply, the topic must appeal to your audience. Don’t even think about making it remotely about your company – this is about your community.

Pick a date and time that suits as many people as possible

Most Twitter chats run between 6 pm and 10 pm, but the day, date and time of your chat may be different for good reason, based upon what you know about your audience.

Use the Pinned Tweet

Pinning a Tweet to the top of your profile takes just a click (just be sure to remember to replace your pinned Tweet once the chat is over).

Build up the anticipation with ‘sneak peeks’

Getting your audience excited about what’s to come is pivotal, central to which should be plenty of teasers that promote conversation in the lead up to the day. Ask provocative questions and keep your followers guessing with a mystery guest.

Pay serious consideration to running a paid awareness campaign

If you’re yet to take Twitter PPC for a spin, now may be the time to do so. The depth of demographic targeting is impressive, to say the least, and a Twitter chat can be one of the most powerful first brushes with your brand there is.

Consider promoting your Tweet chat with adverts.

I wish you luck with your first Twitter chat attempt. Don’t forget to invite me @Minal2804 – name the day, date and time, and I’ll be there!

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