12 Steps to Creating a Successful Twitter Chat

A growing trend over the past 2 years, if not longer, is the use of Twitter chats. Twitter chats are sometimes spontaneous, but are typically organized as reoccurring events. What defines a Twitter Chat from the general back and forth tweets in your Twitter stream is the use of a common hash tag (for example #SocialChat which takes place on Monday night’s at 9pm eastern).

By uniting all relevant tweets with a common hash tag, organizers and participants can easily follow the group conversation. With the ever growing number of chats out there, how do you determine if organizing a chat is the right move for you, and how do you create a successful one?

5 Reasons to Host a Twitter Chat

By establishing the themes, topics and parameters of the Twitter chat, the organizers benefit by:

  1. Establishing themselves as the center of knowledge on the topics of the chat
  2. Increased exposure of the host(s) resulting in more Twitter followers which expands the marketing potential of Twitter for them
  3. Gain control/influence of the conversation ensuring that your perspective gets the exposure it deserves
  4. The result of the retweets and replies to your post from chat participants will  increase the potential audience size of your message significantly beyond your  current sphere of influence
  5. Defining yourself and your organization as people who give back to the community they serve, thereby increasing trust within the community

12 Steps to a Successful Chat

1. Find and participate in other chats first that are related to the theme  (but not in direct competition) of the chat you want to start.

This is your opportunity to learn what makes chats and your potential audience tick.  Learn what makes these other chats successful with their audience.  Build a rapport within the community and earn their respect.  By participating in other conversations, you will ensure you have something new and unique to bring to the table.  This will also give you the opportunity to get used to the speed and the skills needed to not only follow, but participate in a chat.

2. Research your hash tag and the best time slot for your chat.

Keep your hash tag as short as possible since it will appear in all tweets and take away from the limit of 140 characters.  The tag must reflect your topic.  Check the various chat lists to ensure that your possible hash tag or close variations of it are not currently in use.  Look for other chats related to your topic to determine what time of day is best for others interested in your topic and where an open time slot might be that doesn’t compete with other chats related to your topic.

3. Create a supporting website and/or facebook page

Your supporting sites should explain what the chat is about, outline the nature of the chat, profile the hosts, and have a published schedule of topics and notices of any deviation from the normal schedule.

4. Find experts in the field and invite them to be featured guests

Leverage the power of the networks surrounding your guests by encouraging them to tweet out and blog about their participation.  Each guest will bring some of their own followers to the chat.  If you’ve developed a conversation that is engaging and informative, those new participants will come back in subsequent weeks.

5. Recruit regular participants to be guests (reward & acknowledge them) they will become your marketers/advocates

6. Don’t do it alone find an equally knowledgeable co-host

A co-host can help share the work load.  They can provide access to other potential featured guests.  And will be there to ensure consistency when one of you might not be available for a scheduled chat due to travel, illness, and technical issues.