A number of our clients ask us about taking part in Twitter chats and whether they are worth considering in the b2b space. Twitter chats are taking place all day, every day and if you only want to join a chat, there are some great sites out there like chat salad which lists the chats, the hashtags and the start times – we’d recommend taking a look from time to time to see if there’s something of interest to your line of business and then join one and see where it takes you. If nothing else, they are a great place to grow your network, learn something new and grow you knowledge through a shared interest.

But if you’re planning on hosting your own Twitter chat, we’ve got some tips here that you might want to consider before taking the plunge.

  • Join a few chats first – before you host your own chat, join a few as a participant and learn the ropes, pick up some tips and figure out how you’d need to interact as the host
  • Create a simple hashtag – you’ll be encouraging people to take part, join in and use your hashtag, so make it easy to type and spell. #TCRWPCoaching is a mouthful compared with #GardenChat. And keep it short too - with only 140 characters per Tweet, you don’t want to be wasting them on a long hashtag. You can register your hashtag on Twubs
  • Don’t skimp on the planning. Once you start the Twitter chat, things can move quickly and there’s little time for procrastination and dithering over what to Tweet. Go into the chat armed with a set of questions to put out there and a list of ready-written Tweets and links that you can quickly cut and paste if needed.
  • Shorten your urls –don’t waste valuable characters on long urls. Use a tool like bit.ly to shorten your url. We’d suggest setting up your own bit.ly account too – this way you’ll be able to track how many people are clicking on your links.
  • Watch your Tweet length – remember that people might like to retweet your Tweet with their own comment – keep yours short enough so that people can do this and still keep to the 140 characters
  • What time? – schedule your chat at a time that will well for your audience. Later in the working week works better than earlier. And lunchtime can be a great time to run the chat – people can join from their desks without feeling as guilty as they might during working hours.
  • Follow the debate – it’s hard to follow the hashtag and the conversations without using a tool to organise and filter Tweets. I like Tweetdeck, but there are other options such as Hootsuite and Tweetchat that do a similar job.
  • Avoid selling – Tweet chats are a forum for exchanging ideas, networking with people with a similar interest and sharing ideas. If that leads to new business, that’s great. But don’t use it as a forum to sell your services – and don’t hog the conversation, as people will quickly drop off.
  • Consider partnering – the more followers you have, the more people will attend. A partner, such as a media partner will have the followers, help promote it and possibly facilitate the chat.
  • Follow up – don’t just finish the chat and draw a line under it – take a look at who joined and think about following them ( as a minimum ) and pro-actively engaging with them as a follow up
  • Monitor your results – was it worth it? Only you can be the judge of that based on the quality of the chat and participants. But if you need some metrics to show you how many Tweets there were/ how many participants/ and how many people you potentially reached, then Tweetreach is a useful tracking tool

Chats are certainly worth hosting, take little time to organise and a useful addition to your mix of marketing activity. But be realistic about what you’re hoping to achieve – you might achieve the same results as a participant as you would being the host.

Happy Tweeting