Whether or not your personal brand – or business – should be on social media is no longer up for debate. The question now has become how your brand should be on social media.
For instance, even if you already use Twitter, you haven’t really experienced the power social media has to bring people together… until you’ve participated in a Twitter chat.
What is a Twitter Chat?
A Twitter chat is a public conversation on Twitter taking place at a specific day and time to discuss a specific topic. A Twitter chat will use a specific hashtag to curate the conversation, such as #SmallBizChat or#LikeableChat.
While the hashtag may be used throughout the week to share links and comments, there will be a set day and time when all participants are on Twitter at the same time talking about a certain issue or topic. A moderator will tweet questions or prompts relating to the topic, which the participants will discuss using the hashtag.
For example, #LikeableChat takes place on Tuesdays from 2 to 3 PM EST. This chat is hosted by Likeable Media and moderated by their Marketing Director. The chat focuses on topics related to social media, word of mouth marketing and being “likeable.” Specific topics range from using social media for crisis management to discussing how social media impacted the Olympics.
Why Should I Participate in a Twitter Chat?
To learn: If there’s a certain area of your business (such as marketing or accounting) that is especially difficult for you, finding a Twitter chat around that topic can help you. You may find a chat that exactly matches the task you need help with, or you may meet people through the chat that can give you advice, lend their expertise or mentor.
To network: Twitter chats are excellent networking opportunities. By joining a chat relating to your industry, you can meet people who you can relate to. You can discuss industry news, challenges, share your opinions and advice, and develop friendships and possibly partnerships.
To meet potential customers: In addition to meeting other businesses like your own, you can also meet people interested in your business. For example, if you sell rock climbing equipment, participants of #ClimbChat would probably be interested in your products.
How Do I Get Started?
First, you need to find Twitter chats to join. There are many resources for finding chats, including this Google Doc of over 700 Twitter chats that gives details such as chat description, moderator, and day and time. You can also use websites like twebevent to look at Twitter chat listings. Most important, pay attention to what chats your network is already participating in. When you notice someone you follow participating in a Twitter chat, check out the stream to see if that chat would be helpful to you.
What Tools Are Needed to Participate?
Once you’re ready to participate, there are a few ways to follow the chat. I personally use TweetChat.com.
In Tweetchat, you sign in through your Twitter account and enter the hashtag of the chat. You are then presented with a stream that automatically updates when new tweets are posted. Tweetchat automatically adds the hashtag to the end of your tweets. This is important because if you forget to add your hashtag to your tweets, no one in the chat will see them.
Similar tools include TweetGrid and twebevent. Alternatively, you could participate in the chat from Twitter itself, or add the hashtag’s stream to your Twitter client such as HootSuite or TweetDeck.
The Rules of the Road
While chatting, remember your manners. Don’t be too self-promotional and respect the community. Many Twitter chats have specific rules. For example, a lot of chats want you to retweet the questions so that your followers can more easily follow along and be tempted to join in. Pam Moore has a great post about Twitter chat tips, so I’d suggest reading that for more tips.
Important! Do not try to sell through the a Twitter chat! Instead, just engage. Only mention your products if it’s actually relevant to the conversation.
My Favorite Twitter Chats
My “usual haunts” (these are my favorite chats, but I’ve been absent from them more than usual lately, and I miss them dearly):
- #InternPro on Mondays at 9 PM EST (hosted by YouTern)
- #SMTLive on Tuesdays at 12 PM EST along with the SMT Live webinars (hosted by Social Media Today)
- #LikeableChat on Tuesdays at 2 PM EST (hosted by Likeable)
- #CmgrChat on Wednesdays at 2 PM EST (hosted by The Community Manager)
- #GenYChat on Wednesdays at 9 PM EST (hosted by Chanelle Schneider)
Have you ever participated in Twitter chats? Which ones are your favorites?
About the Author: Brittany Berger is a 2012 graduate of the University of Delaware who studied communication and interactive media. She now resides in Newark, DE and works as a Public Relations Specialist at eZanga.com, a search engine specializing in online marketing and services. She loves social media and blogging and can be found on LinkedIn or tweeting.