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The Ultimate Guide to Twitter Chats by SEMrush [Free PDF]

Olga Andrienko
The Ultimate Guide to Twitter Chats by SEMrush [Free PDF]

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.

Find out how many followers you have

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.

Find a catchy hashtagHashtags 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 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.

Choose a time slot for Twitter Chat

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.

Pick topics that will interest your followers

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.

Create your own questions for Twitter chat

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.

How to Invite guests for Twitter chat

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.

Create promotional materials for Twitter chat

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.

Tweet templates:

  • 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.

Use images for 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.

Proofread obsessively

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.

Share promotional materials with your guests during Twitter chat

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.

Sign up below to get a full PDF version of our SEMrush Twitter Chat Guide for free.

It contains 10 more chapters.

You’ll also get 2 weeks of GURU access to our brand new SEMrush Social Media Tool and dozens of other tools and reports! Don't forget to check your inbox.

Increase your social media presence with the SEMrush Twitter Chat Guide and the new Social Media Tool.

Thank you for choosing to download the SEMrush Twitter Chat Guide.

Your download will begin in a moment. If you experience a delay, click Start Download to begin the download immediately.

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Olga Andrienko is the Head of Global Marketing at SEMrush. Olga specializes in conversion and relationship marketing and has increased SEMrush social engagement by 400% in one year together with her team.
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Jason Myers
Great work Olga! It's always helpful to see what others are doing to make the most of this wonderful tool. I especially like your suggestion about proof reading and prepping the Tweets. I'd love to hear your take on a guide that I wrote about hosting Twitter chats:
The #semrushchat is great - my only issue is it's around 3 - 4 am here in New Zealand at that time :-) Would love it if you mix it up on occasion to get different time zones involved.

Hey one tip I would add is to put your naughty mind in gear as you create and check your hashtags.

See who else is using the hashtag first to ensure you're not getting yourself mixed up with another crowd. Then try and see if there's any innuendo or misspellings that could get you in trouble.

Like these two:

- The infamous Susan the opera singer's #SusanAlbumParty - getting misread as #SusAnalBumParty

- Or one an old employer was keen on an #IdeasExchange - UK PR experts thought we were offering our financial advisors #IdeaSexChange.
Olga Andrienko
Nick Allen
Nick, thank you so much for the feedback! I thought of arranging a blab ( for Australia/New Zealand audience, it's better to vary the ways we communicate, but I totally agree that we should schedule some online activities! :)
Great point about being careful when choosing the hashtag, these two are awesome examples.
Liz Da Ponte
I'm a relatively recent participant to the #semrushchat but it's quickly becoming one of my favourites. The topics are always closely aligned to what I'm interested in, the participants are very insightful and I like how each question is summarized by the SEMRush team before we move on to the next one.

Keep up the great work! :)
Olga Andrienko
Liz Da Ponte
Liz, thank you so much for the feedback! Great to know you enjoy taking part in the #semrushchat :) I'm so happy you pointed out the recap feature. This was my own invention and now I see other chats implementing it. As childish as it may seem I am always suoer excited when I notice that :D
Please let me know if there is any topic you'd like to discuss that we haven't covered yet!
Dawn Anderson
Really enjoyed the guide Olga and co. You and the #semrushchat team are testament to practising what you preach. The weekly chats are always so informative, light-hearted, fun, but also full of great learnings from a wide range of people with an equally wide range of skills and experience to add to the conversation. I know that I certainly hate those times when I have to miss #semrushchat :)
Olga Andrienko
Dawn Anderson
Awww, thank you so much, Dawn! Super happy you liked the chat and great to hear such a wonderful feedback from you. I try to apply 3 adjectives in any marketing activities that I organise: it should be easy (for people to join), interesting and fun. We'll do our best to maintain the 'quality level' and also discover new ways we could improve! :) Hopefully, with you help as a regular #semrushchat member!
Cherry Kwan F
Great guide, Olga! I've always loved participating in #semrushchat! Your team does a great job in answering to different people, favouriting tweets from the community, and retweeting great answers from participants. It's so important to acknowledge the participants in chat because they're the ones that will keep the chats going!

Lastly, I'm wondering if you have any Twitter chat tools for people trying to host a chat and help monitor the tweets when everything is moving so quickly?
Olga Andrienko
Cherry Kwan F
Cherry, thank you so much for the comment and the kind words :) Twitter chat is all about engagement and learning new tips from others, so it would be unfair not to pass these tips along to our followers :)

We use to follow the thread, I liked it more than any other tool. Tweetchat is widely used, but I didn't really like it myself.
Rohan Ayyar
I've been a regular participant since the first ever #semrushchat and I've watched it grow into one of the most popular Twitter chats ever, matched perhaps only by #bufferchat. Follow the advice above to the T, and you're destined to succeed.

Sergio is right about the significance of how participants are treated - that is the essence of community building. SEMrush favorites, retweets and answers as many tweets as possible.

Kudos to Olga and Elizaveta for weaving this magic Wednesday after Wednesday!

Praise is also in order for the faceless members of the #semrushchat team including the graphics guys and Elena who presents the highlights on the blog.
Olga Andrienko
Rohan Ayyar
Rohan, thank you for the wonderful comment! It's amazing how we all grew during this year, I sometimes go through different recaps and can't help but notice that tips and insights that participants shared have become more advanced, significant and thoughtful.
The feeling that we created something that it so much bigger than ourselves gives wings and the passion to move forward :)

I sent your praise to Elizaveta and Elena, thank you for mentioning the whole team! :) Regarding the graphic guys - again, it's us, Elizaveta and me who create all images :)
Until my first #semrushchat, I had never participated in any of Twitter chat. Since then, I'm completely hooked, but especially to SEMrush's ones, and I have no doubt that it's due to the good work done by its Social Media team, with Olga Andrienko at the head. This guide is the proof of the team's good work.

But Olga has forgotten a very important point, the best kept secret of the SEMrush Social Media team: they treat participants with care and love.

Great guide. Congratulations!
Olga Andrienko
Sergio Redondo
Sergio, thank you so much for the kind words. We never could've accomplished this without you and many other experts who supported us from the beginning. Thank you for taking part in the chats and sharing your wisdom with all others! And special thanks from me and Liza for encouraging us to take selfies at the end of every chat :D
Together we make the web a better place :)))
Julia McCoy
Sergio Redondo
Well said, Sergio! #SEMrushchat is also among my team's favorites. In fact, I always find time to be there, myself, each week. There are just a lot of great people/brands and a very engaging, brilliant team. Although, my copywriting/content marketing firm attends a couple of varying twitter chats (avg. 10 per week), #SEMrushchat is one we never miss.

This guide is absolutely helpful while we're thinking about launching our podcast and own chat soon. I'm sending this over to my social specialists & sharing across our social networks. Thanks, too, Olga! Keep it up, kudos to the SEMrush team! :-)
Olga Andrienko
Julia McCoy
Thank you so much, Julia, for the comment and for taking part in the chat every week. This truly means a lot!
Hope your team find the chat useful, and I guess these tips can be applied not only to chats, but to other marketing activities. Let me know how it goes! :)
Sergio Redondo
Before joining SEMrush Twitter chats, I wasn't aware of this kind of conversations. As Sergio, I too am hooked up and try not to miss any of the weekly SEMrush Twitter chats. There's always so much to learn from so many people! And Olga, thank you so much for this guide. It's really a must read!
Olga Andrienko
Erik Campo
Muchas gracias, Erik! I am so happy and flattered to hear the kind words from you :) Hope tp see you at the upcoming Twitter chat. And my colleagues keep hosting the #holasemrush chat in Spanish (it's every two weeks now).

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