A Look at Twitter Chats (and Why you Should Join in)

By Darren Moore | On 07 Sep, 2016 | 6mins Reading Time

You’re on Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and more, so do you need yet another thing to have to keep up with? The answer to that is ‘yes, you do!’ So what can a Twitter chat possibly do for you and your business?

Well, let’s start with the basics, and discuss what a Twitter chat actually is.

Unsurprisingly, as the name suggests, a Twitter chat takes place on Twitter! The host(s) of the chat will set a particular time, usually weekly, to discuss a particular topic. The host will post questions to encourage discussion and engagement, listed as Q1, Q2, etc for clarity, and anyone from around the world can join in and answer the questions by listing them as A1, A2, etc.

Everyone follows the chat by looking out for the designated chat hashtag to keep up with the discussion, and using the same hashtag in every tweet they send to add to the conversation.

A chat can last for any amount of time, but is usually an hour. Chats are very fast-paced if you have a lot of people joining in, so an hour is usually more than enough, just purely because of how much you need to concentrate! It’s fun, it’s fast and hectic, and both running a chat and participating in one can do an awful lot for your business.

Benefits of a Twitter Chat

If you’re the host, this is a great way to gather like-minded people who want to learn what you want to teach, or to discuss the latest gadgets, books, apps, services or whatever you sell – basically, if you have a business, you can bet there’s a Twitter chat for that subject, and if there isn’t, then why not be the one to create it?

You can network on Twitter during a chat just like you would at a face-to-face business networking event, only if you want to do it in your pyjamas with no make-up on and pizza slice firmly in hand, no-one will ever know. You don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home, pay for parking or eat another boring buffet. Just log on to Twitter, get the apps up that you like to use to follow along (see below) and you’re up and running.

As with business networking, you can grow your network, and your Twitter followers, connect with people all across the world that you might not otherwise reach, help people who are stuck, and show off (without over-promoting, of course) just how much you know about your subject. You might even acquire a client or three.

If you’re running the show, bringing in a guest expert on your subject can also connect you with their audience and vice versa, which is a win-win for everyone.

If you’re joining in with a chat rather than hosting, again, you can gain followers and help people out if you know something about the subject, you can learn things you didn’t know, pick up new websites to visit, new apps to use, great resources – the list really is endless.

It’s also a great way to reach people in a different audience to yours. Fiction writers, for example, might enjoy a chat on books in their genre run by someone else, but they might also pick up new readers who hadn’t heard of them before, just by sharing their love of reading. It’s perfect for getting writers out of that whole ‘following other writers’ thing and into actually finding readers, and no matter what your business, it can do the same for you.

How to Run a Twitter Chat

If you’ve never been involved in a chat before as a participant, it’s a really good idea to do that first and join in several different ones before you start your own, just to give you a feel of the pace, the questions that are asked and the responses received. Not only that, but it gives you a chance to play with some of the apps that can help you follow chats and find the best one for you.

Next, think about what hashtag you want to use. You’ll have to check if what you want is available, and make it apt and as short as possible, so as not to take up too much space on your tweets. You can register your hashtag free on Twubs which is great for SEO and for other people to find you, and gives you a record of when it was registered.

Pick your time, after looking at your Twitter stats for when your followers are most active, and when is convenient for your target audience. Consider time zones here as if you want to reach a wide audience across the world, you’ll have to pick carefully. You could also try asking your followers when they’d prefer to chat, and might want to consider avoiding the times of other similar chats if you can. There’s no point in splitting audiences. This will also need to be a time that you will stick to on a regular basis. Consistency is what will build your audience.

Pick your first topic and let people know in advance so they can think about what they want to say.

Promote it! Tell your friends, tell your followers, post it all over your other social media, write a blog post, mention it in your podcast if you have one, and email it to your newsletter list.

The first couple of times you run a chat, until you build more of a following, you could ask a couple of friends to join in to ‘seed’ the discussion and get the conversation flowing. Once people can see there’s something going on, they’re much more likely to join in.

Welcome new contributors and encourage people to post. Make people feel welcome throughout the chat, be friendly, non-argumentative, and don’t promo to death, and people will more than likely come back!

How to Find Twitter Chats

Explore sites like Tweet Reports, Twchat, Chat Salad, and Twubs to find more chats than you can shake a mouse at, on more subjects than you can imagine.

How to Join in with a Chat

You can manually join in with a Twitter chat just by searching for the hashtag on Twitter and joining in with the conversation, but, with the speed of the chats, it can be hard to keep up like that and there are plenty of apps to help you organise your conversations.

Tweetchat updates and refreshes constantly, so you don’t need to keep refreshing the page, and it will help you out by adding the chat hashtag into your tweets for you.

Tweetdeck is Twitter’s own app and you just log in with Twitter and follow the chat on there.

Twchat gives you rooms for your chats so you can follow along more easily.

• You can also follow conversations on Twubs

Try them all and see which one you prefer!

How to Follow up Afterwards

At the end of your chat, do follow up, just like you would with a business networking event. Follow people who interested you, send them a message, and see if you can connect with them on other social media and keep the conversation going.

There are many apps that will gather the completed chat into a useful stream for you, so you can scroll back through and take note of great replies that helped you, things you said that you might want to expand on in future blog posts, cool resources and apps, and people to follow.

CrowdChat is another great place to find chats that you might want to participate in, and it also creates a brilliant chat recap afterwards, and Storify is another one to check out which can help you read through and make more sense of your chats after you are done.

So, that’s Twitter chats explained in a (somewhat large) nutshell. Why not pick a hashtag to follow and get started today!

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