After turning #askmcfly into a worldwide trending sensation for Tesco magazine, Sarah Gouk and Tara Booth round up the seven essential steps for making your Twitter chat a runaway social media success.
1. Decide on the occasion
Whether you’re aiming to win friends and influence as many people as possible or engage with a core group of followers, establishing exactly what you’re hoping to get out of your Twitter chat will make it infinitely easier to decide on the details; including what subject to focus on. Chats or Q&As without a clear focus can leave people unsure of what to contribute and result in sporadic conversation or, even worse, that much-feared awkward silence.
2. Choose the right hashtag
Once you’ve established exactly what your event is about, you need to choose a hashtag for people to follow. Be sure to choose wisely. It should be unique – so that it cuts through the noise – and short enough to leave space for messages and retweets. Always remember to ask yourself: “Can it be used out of context or in a negative way?”.
3. Invite a ‘special guest’
As with any party, who you invite will determine how popular it is. Having a celebrity or public figure with a large following on board is the equivalent of posting your house party publically on Facebook and the whole town turning up, bottle in hand. If it’s a chat with a lesser-known figure, without a significant presence on Twitter, it’s sensible to expect more of an intimate gathering.
4. Spread the word
Build awareness for at least a week before your party and make it as easy as possible for people to find out where, when and how to join in.
Once your star guests have RSVP’d, ensure you make the most of their influence by asking them to tweet or retweet information from their own account before and during the chat to help spread the word and build excitement. Cross promote the event on other social media channels and drum up more interest by contacting relevant communities and fan sites.
5. Invest in proper planning
How are you actually going to run the chat? Will it be hosted purely on your own feed? Or will star guests tweet from their own account? Hosting it all on your own feed is more likely to build awareness of your brand and increase your followers, whereas utilising a guest’s large following will shift the focus to amplifying the reach of your hashtag and core message.
If you haven’t already, set yourself up with a dashboard application such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck. These make it much easier to get an overview of all activity.
6. Be a good host
When it comes to the big day it’s best to have two people on hand, one to type responses and another to help select questions and keep an eye on the overall activity. Choose questions that are relevant, interesting and on topic – this will help the chat run smoothly as well as pacify any ‘awkward’ guests. It’s possible guests might raise genuine customer service concerns or enquiries, so agree a response in advance, even if it’s: “Thanks for letting us know – DM us your details and we’ll look into it”.
And remember, get those precious screen grabs of any trending or stand out tweets. Evidence is everything.
7. Have a post-party debrief
So was your party a success? Your hashtag will act as a marker to help you record the total number of mentions and measure the reach of your chat. If you don’t already have an account with a social media monitoring platform you can use a free service such as TweetReach, which will provide a top-line overview on the number of tweets, how many accounts your hashtag reached and top contributors.
Make a note of the number of followers you have before and after your chat, and if you’ve included links through to your website, use a url shortener such as bit.ly or buffer; or create a campaign url to keep track of click throughs. Finally, use your own website's analytics package to keep an eye out for any peaks in traffic.
We run Twitter chats for some of the world's best brands. To talk to us about how to host the right Twitter party for your business, contact Hannah Saunders on firstname.lastname@example.org.