How and Why to Start a Business Twitter Chat

By Ann Smarty

Twitter is a world-wide marketing tool, but small businesses often overlook the success of a Twitter chat. Read how to run an effective...

Twitter has become one of the most prolific marketing tools on the web. Their live updates and microblogging platform give it infinite uses, and it is easy for even the most technologically backward members. But some of the features are still poorly utilized, and one of the biggest tools to be ignored is the Twitter chat.

Providing a means of gathering people together for an extended conversation, more people are starting to create their own. Even full organizations are enjoying the benefits of these discussions.

Starting Your Own Twitter Chat

The first step would be probably to visit a couple of business Twitter chats to get an idea of how it works:

  • #bizforum: General business Twitter chat held on Wednesdays at 8 pm EDT
  • #BrandChat: Twitter chat focusing on branding held on Wednesdays at 11 am EDT
  • #CustServ: Twitter chat discussing customer service held on Tuesdays at 9 pm EDT
  • #HBRchat: Twitter chat hosted by Harvard Business Review discussing the recent article published on the blog. It's hosted on Thursdays at 1 pm EDT

Getting started is as easy as announcing the date and time of the chat on your website and profile. Make sure everyone knows when it is going to take place, and try to set it for a convenient time for your primary demographic. Any analytics tool can tell you this, such as the location where the bulk of your followers lives.

Next, set a hashtag that will be used for the chat. This could be your website name, or the main topic that will be discussed. This should be included in the chat information you release. When that hashtag is used at the right time, it will cluster all tweets together into a cohesive conversation.

Finally, select a listening platform. My personal favorite is TwChat. It gives your Twitter chat a home and it also has some neat filtering features that organize the chat:

TwChat

Keeping An Eye On The Chat

You should have at least one moderator on hand for every chat. If you have a large number of followers participating, or if it is a continuing event, you should have more than one. These moderators will be responsible for keeping the conversation on point and shutting down any tweets using the hashtag that are going off topic.

They will also be able to keep a firm grip on spam (which is common for more popular Twitter chats), and dealing with any conflicts or arguments that may arise. While you can hope that everything will remain pleasant, keep in mind that this is the internet. The smallest disagreement can spiral into a full blown fight in an instant.

Related: Ways Twitter Can Help Connect With Customers

Set Rules Prior to the Chat

You should have a list of guidelines that people can read before they take part. This equals to the usual disclaimer you would have for your website, but with a live chat in mind. For example, you might specify that all off topic discussion should be handled through private messages, and that any tweets not on point with the conversation will be removed.

Also specify the penalty for spamming, fighting or inappropriate behavior. Make it clear that anyone breaking these rules is subject to be banned from future discussions. Moderators will be in charge of enforcing these guidelines.

Conclusion

It is easy to hold a Twitter chat, and a great way to spark a conversation about your niche. More and more people are taking part, and most users will probably be familiar with how such an event works by now. So start your own, and get people talking!

Related: How You Can Be Successful with Customer Service on Twitter

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