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Elena Terenteva

How to Not Screw Up During a Twitter Chat

Elena Terenteva
How to Not Screw Up During a Twitter Chat

Twitter chats are awesome! The whole idea of communities sharing their insights for the purpose of education and mutual success is simply brilliant. Participating in a Twitter chat offers a lot of opportunities for content distribution, reputation building and boosting one's visibility.

In this post, we want to share with you ideas for how to benefit from a Twitter chat, how to make people remember you and, well, how not to screw it up.

SEMrush has been running Twitter chats once a week for eight months. While creating recaps for each of them, I have read thousands of tweets. So today, I want to share with you examples of tweets that everybody wants to share and the biggest no-nos.

These tips will not only be useful during Twitter chats, but in your everyday social media life as well.

Common Mistakes You Should Avoid

Don’t be self-promotional

A Twitter chat is a great source for new connections and a powerful tool for establishing credibility. But the secret here is that you get all those treats indirectly. The key word for every chat is “sharing,” not “taking” or “asking," so don’t get the wrong idea and think of a Twitter chat as an opportunity for direct self-promotion. This can lead to disappointments and even harm your reputation. Three big NOs you should avoid:

  • No spam
  • No sales
  • No job applications

I won’t even bother explaining why spam is not the best choice for your career, but the last two probably need some commentary.

Best case scenario – user, posting tweets unrelated to the chat messages, will be ignored.

Worst case scenario – inappropriate behavior will be pointed out, and nothing can hurt you more than publicly highlighted unprofessional behavior.

The one legitimate way to be self-promotional during any chat? Share a link to your article if it's on a related topic. This will be the best illustration of your expertise.

Know your audience

Sharing is good when you offer people things they want or need, and do it in a proper manner. It’s OK to share some tips for beginners in chats where participants are discussing more advanced techniques. There are some things that are much worse.

Though not very often, we saw some participants that were really out of tune with the audience. Some used the wrong tone, inappropriate vocabulary or posted unrelated comments with the idea that a Twitter chat is a place for totally informal conversation. I have just one analogy – Bridget Jones in a bunny suit. Yes, it can still look nice and cute, but it’s not the way you want people to remember you.

How to Benefit from a Twitter Chat and Make Your Tweets Unforgettable

Here we’ll share examples of memorable tweets that definitely earned some credibility points for their authors and brought them some benefits from participating in a Twitter chat. Not all great tweets can be categorized, but we eliminated some common techniques that make tweets stand out in the thread.

Provide value

First and foremost, your tweet has to provide some value for those who read it. But it doesn’t have to contain the greatest insight or an absolute truth. A Twitter chat is a conversation, not a quiz where you have to give the right answer. Your assumptions, ideas and hesitations, statistics, additional links to articles or research you think will be helpful, even some inspirational quotes — anything that can enrich the conversation and provide a different point of view matters.

Use illustrations wisely

Pictures are definitely strong attention-catchers, but, if we’re talking about pictures shared during a Twitter chat, they’re attention stealers. A worthy phrase will be noticed by users regardless; there is no need to strengthen your thesis with a picture if it has no informational value. Looking at a non-related picture for a mediocre tweet evokes a feeling of disappointment.

  • No sad/happy kittens
  • No “office” stock photos
  • No pictures for every tweet

Although sometimes pictures are worth using.

If 140 characters are not enough for your answer, create a checklist! Opting for a quick summary of answers as a quintessence of shared knowledge is always a winning move. This tweet by Pradeep Kumar is what we call shared insight. This tweet by Andrea Fine is also a great example of picture usage — a direct illustration of complimentary colors. I’m sure that after this tweet, users were more likely to understand and remember the concept of color selection.

Share your own experiences

There are some topics where answers can be predicted. For example, conversations about toolkits. Yes, there are a lot of tools on the market, but hundreds of participants will easily list all of them in only a couple minutes. Doesn’t seem to leave much room for self-expression, right? So how can you become unforgettable in this situation? Easily — share your own experience. Continuing with the toolkit example, tell everybody about your favorite report, or disclose some not-so-obvious ways to use a certain tool. Another example: during the Twitter chat about landing pages, Diana Mackie shared her version of a call to action — "Lets do this." It was a post with a lot of great insights, and Diana’s tweet was definitely valuable and worth sharing.

Use metaphors

Twitter chats attract a lot of newcomers; it’s an free and easy way to learn from the best in the industry. So use it for your benefit!

Another way to write a noticeable and recognizable tweet is to illustrate your thoughts with terms that are understandable for non-marketers, or through metaphors or comparisons. Use anything that can provide participants with a better understanding of the issue.

I’m pretty sure that even your grandma, who probably has no idea about the engagement process, its purpose or the means of achieving it, would understand what is it after this tweet.

Don’t hide your personality!

An interesting partner in conversation not only provides you with new information, but does so in a pleasant manner. Add a bit of humor, develop your own unique style, find your shtick — everything that discloses your personality to make you unforgettable!

Colt Sebastian Taylor thanks other participants with his inherently joyful attitude and unique style.


All relationships begin the same way — with a greeting. Don’t hesitate to greet all participants or thank the host. The company hosting the chat will greatly appreciate you reposting the chat announcement; a thank you note or some advice on how to improve the chat will be noticed as well.

Comment! Share other participants’ insights and point out useful tips. Remember, the chat can work for you even when it’s over. During the chat session, things move really quickly — sometimes you won’t have time to respond to tweets you like, so do it later! You can always reach out to chat participants and thank them, or continue to discus the topic.

I bet, at the very least, you'll want other people to notice your level of expertise and come back to you as a potential consumer or partner.

Bottom line

Making your messages stand out during a Twitter chat is quite tough, because the speed at which tweets flow can be very quick. But it is possible!

Passion for your job, industry knowledge and actually having a personality will lead you to success sooner or later. This works for most situations; not just Twitter chats.

Elena Terenteva, Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush.

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