Last week I mentioned that a great way to promote your blog or other freelance writing was via a Twitter chat, aka a TweetChat. They can be great to promote to promote any business or product really, whether your hosting one yourself or participating in another website’s or product’s chat. They can also be a great way to make connections with other companies, writers, and brands, and although they can take up a good chunk of your time (and occasionally be super frustrating). Generally, I enjoy TweetChats, unless they’re too focused on winning giveaways or too in your face about the product they’re promoting.
Participating in TweetChats
Before you attempt to run your own TweetChat, I suggest you try to participate in a few before trying to start your own. TweetChat.com has a super easy way to follow the #hashtag chosen for your chat and automatically updates as new tweets are made. I also like to keep the hosts’ Twitter profiles open in individual windows so that I don’t miss any questions.
If I’m on the go, I’ll use TweetBots search function, although it’s a lot harder to follow along with. When you’re running your own TweetChat, you’ll definitely want to be on a desktop or laptop computer – sorry tablets.
Generally, a TweetChat will take place over an hour and consist of the hosts asking roughly five or more pre-planned questions over about an hour. Usually they’ll start with an introduction and perhaps close with people asking for other people to ask any potential questions they might have.
To get the most out of it, interact with people. Respond to others questions, and follow people who seem interesting to you (they usually follow back). One of my favorite chats, #RunChat, asks you to follow five new people after every chat. I’ve always enjoyed this encouragement and it’s something I plan on incorporating into my own future chats.
Here’s a great list of Tweet Chats.
Build a Team
It’s easier to run a TweetChat if you have a few people managing it (it can get overwhelming if you’re trying to run it by yourself, especially during the chat itself. If you’re a single blogger, I’d suggest trying to find other bloggers who write about similar things to help you create you TweetChat.
Even if you don’t like working with others (or want your TweetChat to be your own) consider finding guest hosts that can occasionally help host so that you aren’t constantly trying to come up with themes.
Pick a HashTag
This one can be tough. You want something that isn’t too long or hard to remember, because that will discourage people to use it. You also want to make sure it’s not already in use so it doesn’t get confused with another hashtag (or possibly upset that you stole their idea). Ask a few of your fellow bloggers, friends or family if it seems like a good idea.
Pick a Theme
You might not have a theme for your first TweetChat, and that’s okay. You may want to have your first one being a general getting to know you chat. However, after your first one, I’ve noticed that chats with themes, such as summer ballet intensives or summer trail races, really succeed.
Schedule a Date and Time
For my smaller chats, I’ve often posted polls on my website and social media to try and find times that work for those really interested in participating. You may want to schedule one specific time to chat for all of your future chats (which works really well if most of your participants are in the same time zone). However, I’m a fan of what #RunChat does and schedules one earlier in the day and one later in the day on an alternating schedule for those on opposite coasts.
When scheduling your first one, you’ll want to pick a date that is far enough in advance so people can plan but not so far in advance that people forget about it.
Write Your Questions
Generally, TweetChats ask about five questions over an hour. You’ll spend the first 5 or 10 minutes in introductions, and then jump into the remainder of your questions. You’ll want to make sure you questions follow a good progression and have the potential to create good conversation.
Take notes after the TweetChat. Make notes of what types of questions did really well in your group and which ones flopped. You many even want to ask participants for suggestions.
A lot of TweetChats these days are sponsored by products that usually include giveaways at the end and at least one question centered around the product or following a general theme (for example, a hydration product like Gatorade with a hydration while running themed chat). I’m generally okay with these, and you can e-mail companies once your big enough explaining your chat and why they should sponsor you.
While people will still participate in chats fully focused around a product, I find that these don’t get any “real” discussion in, and therefore destroy the point of creating a community, but they’ll still probably gain you a social media following.
Have you have participated in or hosted a TweetChat? Got any questions?