Most brands don’t use Twitter correctly. There, I said it. Almost every time I do, someone gets a little bit defensive.
While there’s nothing wrong with posting content your brand produced to Twitter and see what traction it gets, that shouldn’t be all you’re using the platform for.
Twitter is all about the rapid-fire sharing of ideas and breaking news, so finding a balance between dumping content and carrying on casual conversations is key.
Twitter chats are an excellent solution for many businesses.
They give you the opportunity to get a lot of engagement on your content and to build relationships with your audience, both of which are always right things to do.
They can also send a lot of traffic to your profile, giving you a massive boost in reach on both your chat posts and your other content, too.
Like all marketing strategies, however, Twitter chats must be executed correctly.
There are a ton of brands and influencers who can do precisely that, so we’re going to look at some of the best to see what we can learn about how to host a successful Twitter chat.
Promote Your Twitter Chat Well
Unsurprisingly, if you want people to engage in your chat, they need to know that it’s happening.
Post about it several days in advance and more than once on Twitter.
You can also mention it on Facebook or an email campaign, and reach out to your network of personal contacts to invite them to join if you believe it would be of interest to them.
Food & Nutrition Magazine hosted a number of excellent Twitter chats, and they follow almost every best practice we’re about to cover.
One of those best practices is promoting their chat thoroughly.
They posted several days in advance, and again an hour before the chat started.
This helps alert people long in advance, but it also reminds them right before the event to stick around, which is when grabbing their attention matters most.
Invite Influencers & Experts
Inviting influencers and experts to your chat is an excellent way to promote it (see above), and it also lends instant credibility to the discussion.
People will come running to be in a chat where Mari Smith or Jon Loomer are talking Facebook Ads, after all, and this is true in every other industry as well.
All industries have their micro-celebrities and established experts, and having them help you promote your chat and give it more hype will always be a good thing.
Plus, you’re automatically guaranteed to have someone else sharing great insight, which can attract additional posts and keep the conversation flowing a little more freely.
SEMrush holds their weekly #SEMrushchat where they ask questions and anyone is invited to share their insight on topics like content marketing, local SEO, and keyword research.
Each week, they invite a different expert who has strong experience on that week’s subject, and the chat has become so established that many other industry experts tune in weekly to share advice and insight.
Consider Making your Twitter Chat Consistent
Some brands, like SEMrush, will hold consistent Twitter chats. These may be weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
Either way, they’re on a schedule, something their audience is well aware of.
This makes it easier for your followers to remember to tune in and participate, especially if it becomes part of their routine and it’s something they may look forward to.
Netflix’s #DVDchat, for example, is their monthly Twitter chat.
Netflix’s account will post questions around a specific theme or genre, like horror movies or musicals.
They encourage users to chat with each other and to respond to the questions directly, as long as they’re including #DVDchat in their tweet.
Knowing that the chat will take place every month is enough to keep engaged users tuned in.
Have Specific Topics & Themes Your Audience Will Like
If you’re wondering how to have a successful Twitter chat, this best practice is easily the most important one that you’ll read on this (or any other) list. The others are all essential, too, but without the audience’s interest, your chat is done for (literally and metaphorically).
You should absolutely choose topics and themes for your chat that you know your audience will respond to.
In many cases, people love the opportunity to share their own expertise (as seen in the #SEMrushchat). In others, they want to be entertained (see #DVDchat). Sometimes, they’ll want to utilize the chat to gain expertise from other experts.
An example of how to use this strategy can be seen with the TurboTax Canada’s #ASKTURBOTAX chat, where users could ask the brand questions about their tax returns and filing.
They used genius hashtags #selfemployement, #sidehustle, and #freelance, knowing that these individuals are most likely to need to purchase their expensive software and not have a CPA or accountant handling the taxes for them, so they knew this chat would offer heightened value for these audience members.
Use a Chat-Specific Hashtag
You’ve likely noticed every single screenshot of the different chats we’ve covered so far have a chat-specific hashtag featured front and center, in addition to the other reach-expanding hashtags that are used to show the chat announcement to potential audience members.
Both sets of hashtags are important, but the chat-specific hashtag will allow you to track down all the responses.
This will give you more fodder for UGC, but more importantly, it will let you engage immediately, since many people post their own Tweet instead of responding directly to yours.
You don’t need a specific hashtag for each individual chat every time you host one; instead, sticking to the same hashtag will increase the likelihood that people remember it and get it right.
Create Post Recaps
This is an excellent strategy that more brands could take advantage of. If you want to truly get the most results out of your Twitter chat, the chat isn’t over even after it’s technically over.
Make sure you thank users, even tagging some in posts or retweeting some of your favorite answers.
This gives all users more incentive to participate next time.
SEMrush also goes all out with their recaps.
In addition to posting highlights on their Twitter after the chat, they also write up full blog-post-length recaps of what was discussed and what readers can take away.
Talk about a great way to continue getting more value out of a chat and bringing it full circle.
Build Your Twitter Chat Around Specific Business Goals
When you’re creating your Twitter chat and deciding what you want it to be, it should absolutely always tie back to specific business and marketing goals.
These should be measurable, specific goals, which you can use to evaluate your Twitter chat’s effective.
You can’t figure out how to host a successful Twitter chat, after all, if you don’t even really know what “success” means for you.
Netflix’s #DVDchat, for example, isn’t called “#NetflixChat” or “#MovieChat.” It’s called #DVDchat, and they’ll intentionally bring up movies that aren’t on the online streaming roster, because it encourages users to subscribe to their lesser-used DVD mailing service.
#SEMrush chats will occasionally ask users about tools that can help with a task, and almost without fail at least a few users will mention different tools from their suite of marketing related products. It’s excellent promotion, especially because it’s coming from someone else.
We even saw this with the #ASKTURBOTAX chat, where they intentionally targeted freelancers, knowing that they’d need to upgrade to the paid version of the software and other add-ons, unlikely many other traditionally employed people.
What goals do you want to accomplish with your Twitter chat? Consider this before creating your hashtag and choosing the conversation topics, and you’ll be in a much better place to see real, quantifiable results.
Twitter chats are an excellent way to get the kind of traction most brands only dream of on Twitter, giving you a huge boost in engagement and traffic while generating conversations that center your business.
To see the biggest impact from your chats and to guarantee a successful Twitter chat, follow the best practices detailed above, and you’ll be in excellent standing.
What do you think? Do you use chats to generate conversation on your channel? Which Twitter chat strategies do you use for best results? Share your thoughts, knowledge, and questions in the comments below!