Setting up a Twitter chat can seem daunting and intimidating to the Twitter newbie or even to the pro user. Sometimes, it takes the learning of the ins and outs of hosting one, while testing new tools and ideas to advance a chat even further. With that in mind, it seems there are countless things to know about Twitter chats, both for the host and participants. However, after hosting and participating in several Twitter chats, I have come up with a guide sharing my tips and techniques with you, ensuring your next chat will be a huge success!
1. The basics:
Before hosting your chat, the time and a certain topic that'll be discussed must be determined (obvious!). Since Twitter chats are essentially used as virtual networking events, the topic is designated by using a hashtag (#) in each tweet, questions are designated by using Q1, Q2, etc., and responses are designated using A1, A2, etc. This encourages and organises interaction among the group. In addition, tools such as Tweechat and Tweetdeck can provide handy resources when facilitating Twitter chats. For example, you can set up a room for your chat, manage the conversation, etc.
2. Plan in advance:
Once you have decided the topic, you should focus on the possible questions and discussions for that topic. Write these down ahead of time so that you have plenty of ideas to lead the chat with. However, don’t be discouraged, if the chat goes off in another direction – this can result in great opportunities and connections!
3. Time zones:
Remember that this is essentially a virtual networking opportunity, so everyone will not be in the same time zone. Consider your audience’s schedules and preferences when deciding the best time to host your chat. When promoting the chat on Twitter and other social media outlets, be sure to post the time zone since anyone in the world can join in!
4. Special guests and content:
Consider asking special guests to join the discussion and answer questions or link to visuals, audio or video content that could further the discussion. Bringing in special guests to lend their expertise can be extremely helpful and also help your chat to reach larger audiences. Don’t be afraid to add some extra content, either! This makes the dynamics of the discussion more exciting and interactive.
After the planning stages have been completed, turn to Twitter and other social media outlets to promote the chat. Be sure to include essential information, such as, the topic and time, so that potential participants know what to expect.
Once it is time to begin the chat, encourage participants to introduce themselves and join in on the discussion. Then, keep the conversation moving, ask and answer questions, manage discussions, share resources and more, trying to be the best host you possibly can. And, finally, enjoy the discussion, as it will be fast-moving, exciting and a new experience all-in-one!
Have you hosted a Twitter chat lately? How was your experience? Did you manage to make it viral? Let's discuss in comments!