Twitter parties can be terrific marketing opportunities for small businesses. These events, also called Twitter chats, happen when small-business owners create a hash tag around a topic and then invite their Twitter followers to follow that hash tag at a specified time and converse with other followers.
For example, a small CPA firm could create a chat (maybe label it #2013taxtips if it doesn’t already exist) and then invite Twitter followers (i.e., customers) to tune in and ask questions during a designated time—thereby increasing visibility to potential clients. Boutique clothiers can host a chat on the best style tips for fall. Car mechanics can create a chat about best practices in home vehicle maintenance. Cupcake shop owners can host a chat about how to make the perfect baked good. The options are endless.
Follow these guidelines for how to make your next Twitter party a success.
1. Join someone else’s Twitter party. If you’ve recently joined Twitter or have fewer than 2,000 followers, consider joining another Twitter party, says Alexis Grant, an independent digital strategist in Washington, D.C.
Parties, some of which are scheduled regularly, exist on every topic. If you are a clothing store, look to connect with a fashion blogger. If you are a cupcake shop, try connecting with a leading bakery blogger and ask to join one of their upcoming chats as a guest. Chances are, the blogger will not only let you converse with his/her following, but you may be able to plug your business or product to a wide audience.
Not sure where to find existing chats/parties?
“Google around and see what exists,” recommends Grant.
She also suggests searching for Twitter chats on a topic and looking to see what chats your community is interested and involved in. When you find a popular one, contact the moderator to see if you can be a guest. Just remember to pitch a topic that will include helpful information to the moderator’s community.
2. Prepare. Twitter parties can move quickly, so plan out what you will say and ask beforehand, recommends Matt Shampine, vice president, business development and marketing for Hometalk, a social platform for home decorating ideas.
Plan out every minute of the conversation and stick to your set ideas and questions. Determine an objective for the party beforehand and consider teeing up tweets via TweetDeck or HootSuite prior to the start.
3. Market your party ahead of time. Pick a hash tag that your followers will remember and, several weeks before your party, slip it into your posts, suggests Stacey Acevero, social media community manager with Vocus, a cloud marketing software company.
Not sure how to choose a hash tag? Search on Twitter to make sure you aren’t copying an already existing one.
In addition to chatting about your upcoming party on Twitter, Acevero also recommends writing blog posts and press releases on the topic ahead of time.
4. Personally invite followers. “Leave comments on industry blogs that are on the same topic as your chat or @reply and direct message customers, prospects and influencers on Twitter that you think might be interested in joining,” Acevero adds.
5. Pick an exciting topic. Consider the interests of your customers, says Shampine. Do they watch the news often? If so, try tying your topic into a current event.
“Make the conversation light and fun,” he says. “Keep it open and encourage customers/followers to comment by asking questions.”