Tweet Chats: A Step By Step Guide To Engaging Your Audience On Twitter

With a little planning, this simple and fun marketing strategy can grow your audience and increase brand recognition.
October 29, 2013

Tweet chats, also called Twitter chats, are topic-focused conversations led by moderators and tracked using a designated hashtag. It's a useful strategy for generating interest, gaining brand recognition and engaging your audience on Twitter.

The Value Of Tweet Chats

Too often Twitter becomes a broadcasting platform for brands rather than a tool for engagement. Because tweet chats involve a series of questions and answers, your Twitter feed becomes filled with valuable discussion rather than a series of broadcasted messages. This in itself is beneficial, but there are other benefits, including:

Engaging your audience in a conversation. “Chats can inspire new content, new social media tactics, new internal processes and expose companies to new concerns or developments that might affect their products or brands,” says Kraig Larson, founder and chief creative officer at Ciceron.

Gaining visibility as the designated chat hashtag appears in participants’ news feeds.

Earning brand recognition as other users click through to see what the discussion is about.

Attracting new followers. Like-minded connections of participants are more likely to follow you after seeing tweet chat discussions. “Not only do you get followers; you get very targeted followers who are looking to connect with like-minded people,” says Srinivas Rao at Twitip.

A Recent Tweet Chat

For example, in a recent tweet chat hosted by OPEN Forum, participants had the opportunity to question Crowdcentric co-founder and CEO Toby Daniels on leveraging social media to engage new customers. OPEN Forum served as the host and moderator of the discussion. The topic was clearly defined in advance, and the opportunity to engage with an industry thought leader served as an incentive for participation.

Participants of OPEN Forum’s tweet chat were offered these valuable takeaways on the subject:

  • Avoid over-optimization and too much self-promotion. @Brewbom says, “Success in social media is about giving away free what you most want to sell.” In other words, deliver value instead of advertising your company.
  • Be consistent with your efforts and focus on mastering one or two networks before adding to your arsenal, @Hoovers suggests. Distributing the same content across multiple channels dilutes the value of your message. Instead, create unique content geared to the specific audience and user base of each social network you use.
  • Measuring ROI of your social efforts is important, but it shouldn’t be your primary success metric. @questionpro suggests using other KPIs (key performance indicators) as primary measurements of success.
  • Handle customer service issues promptly, and divert the discussion to a private channel to avoid damaging your brand. “Listen, acknowledge, and resolve,” @AWeber advises. @Hoovers suggests taking it one step further by posting a blog article or alert on your website pointing users to that resource for solutions.

What makes this tweet chat a success? Daniels had an opportunity to share his expertise and promote his brand, while participants had the opportunity to interact with a subject-matter expert and get answers to their most pressing questions about social engagement. Tweet chats, when executed properly, benefit everyone involved.

Best Practices

When you’re planning a tweet chat, follow these best practices for success:

1. Choose a valuable topic that’s interesting and relevant to your audience.
2. Designate a specific hashtag to the chat and promote it in advance across your other marketing channels.
3. Plan a date and time that’s likely to be convenient for your audience. Consider time zone differences as well.
4. Use an outside expert as a guest host to generate more interest.
5. Ask hot-button questions to elicit responses from participants and encourage interaction. Plan a series of questions to direct the flow of the conversation and encourage interaction.
6. Tag questions with identifiers so it’s easy for others to follow the conversation, such as “Q1” for the first question and “A1” for related responses.
7. One person should moderate the discussion and encourage the flow of conversation by retweeting important responses from others. When the conversation slows, the moderator posts the next question to keep participants engaged.

Tweet chats are a savvy tactic for getting more traction on Twitter. With a little preparation and planning, you can grow your audience and enhance brand recognition significantly using this simple and fun marketing strategy.

Angela Stringfellow is a freelance writer, social media strategist and complete content marketing junkie obsessed with all things Web, written word and marketing.

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