SECTION ONE – STARTING FROM SCRATCH –
If you are starting a Twitter chat from scratch for the first time there are a few basics decisions you will need to make. (If you are working with an already established chat you can skip down to section two)
Step 1 – First you need to decide the topics you would like to center the chat or chats around. Brainstorm a list of potentially interesting themes that you are knowledgeable about and that your followers will benefit from.
Step 2 – Next, decide how often you want to hold the chat; one time only event, weekly, monthly etc. Take into account the time it will take you to prepare content and questions for the chat, as well as recapping the chat in blog or Storify format for followers that were interested in the chat but not able to make it. Decide how much time you are willing to put into the chat or consider outsourcing it to a virtual assistant.
Step 3 – After your have decided on your theme you will need to determine what #hashtag you will use for your chat. Make sure that it is short, quick and easy to type. Also important is to make sure that it is not already in use, there are plenty of #hashtags to go around, no need to hijack someone else’s.
To Help with Your Decisions – To help make some of these preliminary decisions do a little research on what is currently being done. You don’t want to start a chat if there is another well established chat going on at the same time and you also don’t want to use a #hashtag that is associated with another business. Conducting a Twitter search for your proposed #hashtag should give you enough information to determine if it will be suitable or not.
Here are a few resources for checking what time chats are happening at:
Step 4 – Join chats related to your industry and engage with others. It will be a great way to see what is happening, what others are doing and what followers respond to.
SECTION TWO – HOSTING A TWITTER CHAT –
Hosting a Twitter chat can be such an exciting activity to engage your followers and spread valuable information. Here are a few basics on hosting:
Step 1 – Before the chat – Once you have the time, #hashtag and topic decided upon, it is time to get the actual planning of the chat underway.
Decide what format of chat you will be having. Some options are open mic with a guest, Q and A with guest, or Q and A open forum where you ask followers the question.
If you choose to host an open forum it is still important to create an outline of how you see the chat going. Find useful content on the subject to link to and pre-craft tweets that you can copy and paste. It is also a good idea to create questions beforehand so that you have all the content and questions you need to last the length of your chat.
If you will be having a guest on your chat be sure they know how to correctly participate and are aware of the questions you will be asking and prepared to answer them. Don’t make the questions too difficult to answer in less than 140 characters.
Start to promote the chat well in advance with your last promotional tweet going out about 5 mins before the chat starts to remind your followers. Be sure to include the #hashtag in your promo tweet as well!
Make sure that you have a page or blog post with a description of the chat that you can direct followers to.
Step 2 – Starting the Chat –
1. Welcome participants. If you’d like and your chat doesn’t have a huge amount of participants, you may want to invite them to share a bit about themselves/ their business.
2. Send out an intro to the chat topic, and welcome the guest, if applicable.
3. Mention what format the chat will be, for example, that you will be asking your guest questions and they will respond with their answers. To include A1, A2, A3 in their tweets when answering questions.
Step 3 – During the Chat –
1. Get the chat rolling with questions @mention your guest, in the question tweets, if you have one.
2. Share and RT the best answers that are being shared.
3. Encourage interaction.
4. Keep the chat moving forward.
5. Save the last few minutes for questions, but try to wrap-up at the specified time.
6. Be sure to thank your guest and your followers for participating, you may also want to give your guest an opportunity to self-promote. Oh and on that note, I just happen to be hosting #startupchats via @Startup_Canada on Wednesdays at 12pm EST, if you wanted to drop by… 🙂
7. Announce when the next chat will be.
Step 4 – After the Chat –
Create a blog post or Storify to highlight the chat for followers that were unable to attend. Make sure to promote it with the #hashtag for your chat.
Make sure to follow up with your guest to thank them again for joining you.
I hope you found this information useful, thanks for reading!