Participating in a Twitter chat is a good way to increase the reach and visibility of your brand – and your own personal influence. It helps you make new connections and increase your authority in your industry, plus it’s a great opportunity to share knowledge and build a loyal community.
SEMrush started hosting Twitter chats in October of 2014.
Over the last 11 months, hundreds of people have logged on each week to share their knowledge, and nearly a thousand tweets using #semrushchat have already been posted. Some of our chats have had a couple hundred tweeters, and have had an estimated reach of more than a million people.
One thing we have learned is that creating and launching a successful Twitter chat takes work.
We want to share with you our experience, and that's why we’ve created this comprehensive guide illustrating 20 tips to help you succeed with a Twitter chat of your own.
In our experience, it's best to have 5,000 followers or more before you launch a Twitter chat. If you have only a few followers, you may not get the kind of participation that you need. Unfortunately, not all of your Twitter followers will be available when your chat is live, and not all will be interested in every topic. When we started to run our Twitter chat, we had 7,000 followers, and we already had a lot of industry influencers involved in our community.
Hashtags help users search and identify content on Twitter, which is a must with the millions of tweets that are posted each week. You have a few options here:
- You can brand your chat using the name of your company and add the word "chat" if you want to take the obvious approach. Examples: #semrushchat, #vcbuzzchat, #sproutchat and #bufferchat.
- You can create your own hashtag using part of your company’s name and make it your own, as CoSchedule did with #cochat.
- You can choose a hashtag related to a topic, like Unbounce's #CROchat for conversion optimization.
The best hashtags are short and clear. Brainstorm a couple of options for your main hashtag and then make sure nobody else is using it, by searching on Twitter or on hashtags.org. Before you make a final decision, assess each tag’s potential for bashtagging. If your chosen hashtag can be easily repurposed into something negative then avoid it and think again.
Don't forget that you can also add a topic-related hashtag to your tweets when appropriate.
There are dozens of Twitter chats out there. People in your niche may already be running one. See what's out there (take part in a couple for tips and inspiration) and then decide which slot to host your chat in and what broad theme it should cover. There's no point in saturating people's Twitter stream with another chat on the same topic. Aim to offer additional value instead. Check the times and dates of the most popular chats so you can identify the best time for yours.
Once you have a niche, you need some specific topics for each chat. Make no mistake; you have to plan your Twitter chats just like you plan other forms of content marketing. To help you choose, check suitable keywords using SEMrush or your favorite keyword analysis tool. This will tell you what information people are looking for and guide you on how your Twitter chat can add value.
When inviting guest expert, don’t just randomly pick a topic from your list of ideas. Look at their area of expertise, discuss with them what they would feel comfortable chatting about, and adjust your topic and questions accordingly.
Once you have identified your broad niche and topics, then it's time to focus on specific questions. Most chats focus on around five questions and may include one related to the brand, as #myblogu's chat does. At SEMrush, we like to create a wide-ranging list of questions and let guests choose the ones they most want to answer. Here are some tips on coming up with questions for almost any topic:
- Ask people to discuss mistakes they have made or seen.
- Ask for recommendations for favorite tools.
- If you have expert guests, ask for pro tips.
- Discuss the anatomy of the topic.
- Check your blog and social media profiles to see what people are discussing.
- Use Google. Type your keyword in and see what the search suggestion box shows.
- Check other people's articles to see what questions they have asked that would also be useful for your chat, but remember to avoid plagiarism when framing your question.
You can run your Twitter chat yourself every time, but it's much more interesting for participants if you have a special guest. If your guest is an expert whom most participants normally wouldn't be able to access, that makes it even more appealing.
When you are right at the beginning of your Twitter chat journey, check out your existing partners to find those who are most loyal to you and your brand. Don’t aim for stars at first. Your brand advocates will be more patient and forgiving of any possible flaws or omissions, which will most likely occur early on.
For Twitter, you need two kinds of promotional materials for your Twitter chat: tweets (which can also be used as status updates on other social media sites) and visuals (which we'll look at in the next tip). Your tweets should include:
- A standard chat promo tweet.
- A tweet highlighting your guest.
- A couple of the questions for your guests to answers.
Include the chat hashtag, the topic hashtag (both of these can be small) and the time and date of the chat.
- How do you (topic-related question)?. Join our (#hashtag) chat with (@specialguest) to share your tips!
- How to Supercharge (topic-related issue)! Join (#hashtag) chat with (@specialguest) on (date and time) to discover new ideas!
- Join today's (#hashtag discussion)! Topic: ________ Special guest: (@specialguest). We start at (time)!
- Share your best (topic) tips with other experts! Make sure you join our (#hashtag) chat tomorrow at (time+time zone)!
- Twitter chat with (@guest) this week! >>> Topic: _________. Hashtag: (#hashtag)
Once you share these, you will begin to build a buzz around your Twitter chat.
We all know that social media users love images, so it's worth mentioning again that they are a key part of your chat promotion strategy.
Visuals can include:
- A standard chat promo tweet.
- A tweet highlighting your guest.
- A couple of questions your guests will answer.
- A branded general chat graphic.
- A branded graphic with an image of your guest plus the topic.
As with text tweets, your images should include the chat hashtag, the topic hashtag and the time and date of the chat. We like Adobe Creative Cloud for choosing harmonious color schemes and recommend Canva for creating Twitter chat visuals.
When tweeting images, be sure to include a text version with the associated hashtag so people can find your chat easily.
It only takes one small mistake to ruin your online reputation. Before you send any of your tweets or visuals, proofread them carefully to make sure the spelling, grammar and details are correct.
For best results, create some of the other tweets you'll need ahead of time and proofread those, too. These may include tweets for greeting guests and participants, introducing the chat, and ending the chat. See our list of tweet templates to help you craft your own.
If you're featuring guests in your Twitter chat, let them have copies of your visuals and send them tweet templates in case they want to let their own followers know about the chat. At SEMrush, we never ask guests to do this, but some people offer, and most are happy to do it if you make it easy.
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