Here at Startacus HQ we love to host Twitter Chats… they’re loads of fun, create a great buzz around the office, and bring to light some really interesting opinions.
They are also a great way to raise the profile of topics or events, opening up discussions which can make for lively debate and great future collaborations.
But what is a Twitter chat?
You have probably already taken part in a Twitter Chat, perhaps without even knowing it . The most common and widely participated in Twitter Chat is the ‘ #Ask-CelebrityName’ style chat.
Boris Johnson was famed for his #AskBoris Twitter chats back when was mayor of London, which excited a huge amount of interest on the social media platform, and often made it into the list of ‘trending’ topics.
A Twitter Chat is basically a long conversation / number of conversations about a certain topic which takes place on Twitter, usually at a predetermined time, and often hosted by one or more Twitter accounts. They will often have a hashtag which all participants are encouraged to use in their tweets to help organise the resulting conversations, and to make it easier for participants to keep track of.
As a host, our role was to keep the discussion moving forward, and to engage with potential contributors and commentators, and to suggest certain topics for debate. The overriding objective we had in organising this Twitter Chat was to create an opportunity for information to be shared that might be of advantage to startups and entrepreneurs hoping to make a successful application to an accelerator programme.
By doing this, we were able to position ourselves at the centre of a wide online conversation which examined some of the key talking-points of our industry.
If you are planning to host your own Twitter Chat, there are a number of steps that you should take to make sure that it operates successfully.
Unfortunately, a Twitter Chat is not guaranteed to be a success, and it is certainly not something that should be entered into at the drop of a hat. In order to maximise your chances of hosting a Twitter Chat which delivers against your goals, you will need to complete a significant amount of planning and coordination.
What do you hope to achieve?
If your reason for hosting a Twitter Chat is just for the sake of it then it may well be a waste of your time
There are many potential benefits from hosting such a conversation, and you should know what these are in order to measure your success and also identify how they fit in with your overall business objectives. If you can’t see how this will happen, then don’t even think of a Twitter Chat.
Some of the main reasons why businesses and other organisations host them are;
To gain a larger or more specific Twitter following
To gather the opinions of their audience / customers / target markets
To supplement / inform market research
To raise awareness of a particular product or service
To ‘network’ and make new online connections which may lead to collaborations
To raise their profile as a thought leader within their industry
By knowing how each of these benefits will aid you in achieving your business goals, you will have a very clear idea of why hosting a Twitter Chat is something that you should consider.
Planning Discussion Topics
Once you have chosen an overarching talking point you should set about breaking this down into individual elements which might prove interesting and engaging for your intended audience. This part of the process can be as simple as creating a few ‘go to’ tweets which can help move the conversations along. We have found that questions work the best of this purpose as they give people something to get their teeth into and discuss.
Just because you ask people to take part in your Twitter Chat, doesn’t mean that anyone will. You need to offer potential participants some value- a reason to give up their valuable time. This is where you can really focus in on the core of your discussion, making sure that it is as relevant as possible to those you hope to engage. In other words, make your planned discussion topics ‘unmissable’.
Whilst there is a certain immediacy to activity on Twitter, you still need to do as much as you can prior to the event to encourage people to engage. This is where the real work begins. Imagine how embarrassing it would be if no one took part in your Twitter Chat… disaster.
Luckily by planning ahead and putting a comprehensive strategy of promotion into action, you can mitigate some of the risk. Use your social channels to spread the word, and don’t be shy about directly approaching key influencers and industry leaders that you would like to be involved. By encouraging the interest of key figures within your industry, you can quickly multiply the level of engagement that you get.