Online marketing and social media tips for business from Shannon Belew, best-selling author of "Starting an Online Business For Dummies, All-in-One"
Pick any social media platform, community, forum or other online social network. There is no shortage of virtual places to engage with peers, experts, customers, vendors and friends. Whether you are building your corporate brand or your personal brand, the question becomes: How do you get more (sales, followers, information, etc) from social media conversations? There are ways you can stretch a basic social media interaction into something more meaningful. And, Twitter Chat is a great example of an online networking event that can provide that extra lift for your brand or business.
Let’s start with the basics: What is Twitter Chat? Think of Twitter Chat as a sort of interactive webinar that occurs via a Twitter feed. In short, it’s an open, or public conversation that occurs on Twitter, using a common hashtag # to bring participants together. For example, Likable Media (you may recognize the name from the best selling – must read – book, Likeable Social Media), hosts a weekly Twitter Chat using the hashtag #LikeableChat. The weekly topics usually center around some of element of social media. In fact, Michael Pinto provides a great overview of a recent #LikeableChat on Crisis Management in Social Media. The Twitter Chat was hosted by Michele Weisman, marketing director for Likeable Media. Oh, and if you’re interested in hosting your own Twitter Chat, check out Michael’s blog (you’ll recognize the picture on his blog!). He offers a helpful summary showing how to run a Twitter Chat (more on how we met Michael, later). There are also some great instructions on how to set up a successful Twitter Chat in this guide from Social Media Examiner.
Once you’ve decided to participate in a Twitter Chat, here are 10 easy ways to get more from this social media activity.
1. Pick a topic that targets your audience: It may seem obvious, but there are Twitter Chats on just about any topic. In order to get the most bang for your buck (so to speak), pick those that are within your industry or that involve conversations from which you can truly find useful information that will benefit you and your business. This also ensures that you start connecting with peers, advisers and experts in your industry.
2. Tweet-up the event before it starts: Let people know you’re attending the event by Tweeting about it – and always remember to include the chat hashtag. This not only helps get others to attend, but it gets you to show up in the chat stream early and catch the attention of other moderators and participants. After all, these chats are really like a networking event…you want to be seen, to listen and to contribute so that you can learn and make connections.
3. Introduce yourself in 140 characters or less: Many chats start off by letting participants introduce themselves. Come prepared with an intro that is both genuine and interesting. The object should be to tell enough about yourself so people get an immediate sense of who you are and why this chat relates to you. But, your introduction should also entice others to want to check out your full Twitter profile and learn more about you. Oh, and it has to be done in fewer than 140 characters!
4. Ask questions that require a response: Twitter Chats shouldn’t be passive events and the fact that you are encouraged to ask questions is something that works to your advantage. So take the time to make thoughtful comments in response to others. It’s certainly okay to retweet interesting facts to your followers that happen during the chat, but don’t let that be the only type of thing you contribute. Be interesting and responsive. Same goes for asking questions. Try to pose questions that are fairly easy to answer (without being obvious) and use questions that might appeal to many. In other words, this isn’t time to do a deep technical or philosophical dive – focus on questions that are practical and useful to many and to which others will want (and be able) to respond.
5. Follow other participants: People typically actively tweet opinions, questions and feedback throughout the event. Use this opportunity to make new connections and follow those active Tweeters. More than likely, these are influencers you want to know.
6. Publicly thank the hosts: Managing a Twitter Chat takes effort and time, whether you are moderating, hosting or participating as a featured guest or panelist. Show your appreciation by following those involved and openly thank them (calling them out by their Twitter handle, of course). This is also a good way to launch a more direct connection with those industry experts running and participating in the chats.
7. Suggest a topic after the chat has ended: After the chat activity has died down, it’s a good time to pose a final question or suggest a topic for future chats. Waiting until the chat officially ends gives you the opportunity to be slightly more visible (this is especially true for very large, active chats where the Twitter stream of comments never slows during a chat!). It’s also another good way to contribute and be an active member of the chat – and may trigger a few more responses to your tweets.
8. Send post-chat Tweets: There are always people who come late to a chat or miss it altogether, and usually they tweet about the missed connection. Since most Tweet Chats are archived, send links to the transcripts to those who came late, as well as your own followers, and include the host in your tweet. Sharing this type of information is usually appreciated.
9. Start a conversation with other followers: If you want more from your social media interactions, then it’s on you to participate and interact with others. For example, once you follow another chat participant, take the time to direct a comment or question directly to them, based on their area of interest or expertise. You can even check out their profile and visit their blog or website that’s featured on their profile. Then, send a direct message to them about it. This is how we got to know Michael Pento. After following him, he visited this blog and sent a direct message commenting on it. Just like that, we struck up a conversation and ended up asking him to contribute to this article.
10. Send reminder tweets for next chat: Be an advocate for your favorite recurring Twitter Chats. Put them on your calendar and tweet reminders (along with the upcoming topic) to your followers. Also send public reminder tweets to past chat participants, especially those you interacted with previously. As well as giving you a chance to connect with others, it helps keep the chat active, strong and interesting. After all, the more your online communities and groups thrive, so will you.