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social media how toAre you active on Twitter?

Does your business participate in Twitter chats?

While it may be more challenging for businesses to participate in chats from behind a logo, it can be done.

In this article I’ll explain how to engage in Twitter chats as your business, so you can grow your network.

8 ways businesses benefit from twitter chats

Discover 8 ways businesses can benefit from Twitter chats.

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#1: Give a Face to Your Business

The biggest issue a business has with participating in a Twitter chat is that the majority of participants are individuals. Humanize your brand’s Twitter account in order to make a deeper connection.

For example, include the Twitter handle or name of the community manager who handles your brand’s Twitter account in the profile’s bio. That way, participants will know whom to address when they respond to your tweets.

scoopit twitter account

Like Scoop.it, provide the name of your community manager in your Twitter bio.

Another option is to put a group photo of your employees in the Twitter header or background image.

buffer twitter account

Introduce your employees, as Buffer does, in your Twitter header image.

When you match faces to your business, it personalizes your image and makes your brand more approachable.

#2: Prepare a Cheat Sheet

There is usually a high volume and frequency of tweets during a Twitter chat, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Take steps ahead of time to get the most out of the chat.

Research and then choose an industry-aligned Twitter chat to join. Next, connect with the chat’s community. Start by familiarizing yourself with the hosts.

To find the host, perform a Twitter search using the chat’s dedicated hashtag. Then, click on the people results and look for the Twitter chat hashtag in their bios to find out who’s the host.

Follow the hosts and @mention them via Twitter to introduce yourself.

sbizhour chat

Perform a Twitter search to locate the hosts of the Twitter chat you want to join.

After you make your initial connection, strategically prepare for the chat itself.

Most Twitter chats usually follow a Q&A/interview format with preset questions regarding a specific topic that will be discussed. Many times these questions will be publicly available well before the Twitter chat takes place, either on their official website or posted elsewhere.

For example, #CMGRHangout hosts a Twitter chat coupled with a live Google+ Hangout on Air. They provide their list of questions in the event invitations they send out to their community members.

cmgrhangout chat questions

See if the Twitter chat, like #CMGRHangout, shares their discussion questions ahead of time so you can prepare.

Once you know the questions, prepare for the Twitter chat by writing down the answers that you’ll be sending through your brand account.

There are several benefits on preparing your tweets. First, it’ll give you enough time to draft your best answers and keep them well within the 140-character limit. Plus, you’ll be able to share them with your team for review, if necessary. Also, by preparing your answers early, you will have more time during the actual chat to engage as your brand.

List all of your answers in a handy Word doc, making sure to include the Twitter chat’s hashtag. Then just copy and paste them as tweets once the question is asked during the discussion.

When you make friends with the hosts and provide value during their Twitter chat, it’s likely they’ll take notice and reciprocate by sharing your content. This will further help your brand integrate into the community.

#3: Promote the Chat

Contribute to the chat even before it starts. Retweet and share details via Twitter days, hours and/or minutes before it starts.

bufferchat mention

Support the chat by tweeting about it ahead of time. Don’t forget the hashtag.

This tactic shows the host that you support their event. Plus, it places your tweets into the Twitter chat feed, which participants will also see.

#4: Participate to Stand Out

Since you prepped answers ahead of time, it’s a cinch to participate in real time. In addition to answering questions, add value by sharing stats and quotes related to the topic.

For example, come up with statistics and links or a list of famous quotes that relate to the topic. To really stand out, prepare shareable images or quote graphics to go along.

hireq quote bufferchat tweet

A well-timed quote graphic tweet really adds to the value of a Twitter chat.

If you create images fast, go a step further and make a quote graphic based on something that was tweeted during the chat.

When done correctly, this tactic can help your brand break through the busy Twitter chat stream and get noticed. This form of brand engagement will also show participants that you’re actively involved in the conversation and not just broadcasting answers.

#5: Encourage Employees to Join the Chat

Activate, empower and encourage employees to participate in the same Twitter chats as your brand. This will generate additional brand exposure, while giving your business human points of contact within the community.

employee participant sbizhour chat tweet

Generate more exposure for your brand by having additional employees provide value during the chat, the way Matt from Hootsuite does during #SbizHour.

Asking employee advocates to participate in chats is a fantastic way to support your brand’s Twitter engagement efforts.

#6: Build Relationships Outside the Chat

Brand engagement doesn’t have to end when the scheduled Twitter chat does. That’s one of the best things about Twitter chats being archived by hashtags.

Search the hashtag to find out what and whom you missed. Follow and thank the host and guests; follow the other participants and influencers from the chat as well. Also, retweet and respond to some of the messages you may have missed.

Many Twitter chats will even provide a convenient recap or transcript of the event, which is also valuable to retweet.

getrealchat transcript tweet

Many chats will offer a transcript after the Twitter chat, which you can retweet to your followers.

Also, take time after the Twitter chat to RSVP for the next one.

#7: Become a Sponsor

Still having reservations about participating in a Twitter chat as your brand? Consider sponsoring one.

When you ask to become the sponsor of a Twitter chat, you build brand awareness without even being there. The hosts usually mention sponsors before and after the event.

Keep in mind that brands sponsoring Twitter chats and participating in them see the best engagement results.

socialhangout sponsor

Inigo sponsors #SocialHangout and engages as their brand during the Twitter chat—an effective combination.

#8: Host a Chat

Another alternative to participating in someone else’s Twitter chat is to simply create and host your own. Buffer is a great example of this in action.

bufferchat by buffer

Buffer created their own Twitter chat to develop a deeper relationship with their community.

Some Final Thoughts

A Twitter chat is basically just a community that meets regularly to talk shop.

Engaging in a Twitter chat as your business is a great way to connect with influencers. And there are also benefits to connecting with other brands and peers. Remember to be patient and develop individual relationships that make sense for your business.

To find real success from engaging in a Twitter chat as your brand, you need to remain engaged with its community and keep up with them regularly, like during the next scheduled Twitter chat.

What do you think? What are some of your favorite Twitter chats? Have you found success engaging in chats as your brand? Which brands do a great job participating in Twitter chats? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments below.

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  • demahod

    Very good entry …but what about a CM working for a web agency and handling all the SM accounts alone 😀

  • Great post!

    I love Twitter chats! I used to participate in HubSpot’s Twitter Chat with Dan Zarilla, but they moved to a FB group and the chats ended. I miss the HubSpot Twitter chats because it gave me the opportunity to connect with people at a scheduled date and time. A FB group doesn’t do that — there’s no real structure.

    P.S. I manage the social media for our local animal shelter and would have to ask the board of trustees if I could hold a Twitter chat. I could tag-team with the Head Cat Shift Leader and Adoption Counselor. It may increase cat adoptions. 🙂

  • @AmandahBlackwell:disqus Thanks Amanda! I really enjoy participating in chats too for much of the same reasons. I think you may be on to something with your idea and recommend checking out other posts on SME that go over how to structure and create a chat. See the link in tip #8

    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

  • Thanks for this, great article and very timely, I’m hosting a Twitter chat about online writing in June. Thanks for the advice.

  • @demahod:disqus thank you for the feedback! As a solo CM (I assume you’re talking about engaging as your clients and not your agency Twitter account) I’d have to strongly recommend tip #2 of creating a cheat sheet. Depending on the amount of clients and chats you’re trying to participate in, preparation will be crucial in keeping you sane.

    It’s not a bad idea to tag-team a chat with your client. You handle the brand related messaging and your client can participate from their personal Twitter handle if it makes sense for them.

  • @Sally Mayor:disqus Yes!!! That’s what I like to hear! Take a look at the link in tip #8 that details how to format and host a new Twitter chat. SME is a great resource for that kind of info.

    Thanks so much!

  • Terrific post Jacob! I’m a huge fan of building brand presence via Twitter and Tweet Chats. #6 is a fave strategy of mine – especially since it can be hard to join the chat live. Connecting with others post chat is a wonderful way to keep the conversation going and build a deeper relationship. And it makes the host happy – cheers!

  • Great point on engagement afterward. As a brand profile you’ll have to work a bit harder to gain traction. So anything you can do to show the host(s) that you’re there for the community and not your own gains the better. Those gains will be a byproduct of your authentic participation. Thanks for the comment @andelyons:disqus!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    I have read a ton of articles on Twitter chats – this one sparkles as one of the best.

    Thank you, Jacob! #HUGS

    Kitto

  • Thanks for this post on twitter chats, I think it is a good idea to have a human face on the twitter chat, but often businesses are easily identified with their logo, so how do you really promote your business in the chat with faces of your employees? I think the best as you explained to way is to have your employees engage in the chat so they will help to shape the direction of the chat around the topic you most have predetermined.

  • Hey @krithikarangarajan:disqus (Kitto) that truly means the world to me.

    As this is my first contribution to SME, your comment is extremely motivating. I’m glad that amongst the numerous articles you’ve read on the topic, this one prompted you to leave such wonderful feedback.

    #HUGS right back at ya and please don’t hesitate to connect with me on Twitter!

  • @Graciousstore:disqus You’re very welcome and great point! I’d always recommend brands use their logo or other recognizable graphic for their profile picture. However there’s plenty of other room within a Twitter profile to include the human element such as bio, header image, or even photo gallery (that could include photos of real employees)

    For a brand handle participating in the chat, you’ll find the most success and “promotion” when you provide contextual value before, during, and after.

    Love the feedback! Let me know if you have anymore questions/comments, okay? 🙂

  • Brilliant, I’ve bookmarked it. Thanks for that 🙂

  • Hi Amandah, thank you for sharing your insights into the value of Twitter chats compared to Facebook groups. It’s something to consider.

  • I’m approaching the board of trustees of my city’s animal shelter about conducting a Twitter chat and look forward to conducting one.

  • Thanks Cindy! I hope HubSpot resumes their Twitter chats. They were valuable.

  • Totally agree there, @CindyKing:disqus! Thanks for chiming in as well.

  • jriegel

    I try and participate in all outdoor related twitter chats. I have some help from my colleagues, which is great! We see a lot of engagement and we really enjoy connecting with the outdoor community in a genuine and authentic way. We’ve even met some of the folks from #hikerchat for a few real life adventures!

  • @jriegel:disqus excellent addition! Yes and YES! Your comment is music to my ears buddy and it’s great to hear that you not only enjoy participating but you’re also seeing a lot of authentic engagement. Way to take online relationships offline with your meetups too! That’s awesome! Thanks for the comment!

  • Thats a fabulous article about hosting Twitter Chat!, Jacob we can also enhance the chat participation (if we are hosting one) by checking the best time our followers are online using tools like follower wonk.

  • @imsalmansharif:disqus now you’re speaking my language, buddy! That’s a great tip to get an initial time-frame to increase participation by leveraging your current community members. Great idea!

    Though some chats like #MediaChat are purposely planned for later in the evening or night when users may not normally be “highly” active on Twitter, but show up because they have an open hour from the comfort of their own home and not their office job.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • @WordNerdSally:disqus you’re welcome, Sally! Good luck!

  • Nice post. Twitter chats are really helpful. They come with a long list of goods. It generates online engagement, online/offline awareness of your brand, and other SEO-related benefits. I think its something that every business should try.

  • I host and manage twitter chats at my job. I never thought about doing 1 for myself, duh!! LOL This could be a nice business model, hosting twitter chats for companies, especially if you can show the ROI. After every chat I create a report using tweet-reach for impressions, top take-aways, opportunities I see, highlight big brands or influencers re-tweeted, fav, etc.

    By doing so many over the course of a year we are able to segment the chats into categories: Beauty, Money/Finance, Entertainment…the averages are used for sales purposes, social intelligence provides content team with story ideas or answers to questions. A lot can be done with twitter chats.