Social media is an ever-changing world. With all the different platforms and what they have to offer, it can be challenging to choose where to invest your time and energies. Instagram is a great tool to share stories visually, Facebook works well as a secondary website for your company, and Snapchat allows you to engage with people authentically. However when it comes to real-time engagement, nothing beats Twitter.
One of the most effective ways for marketers to utilize the platform is with Twitter chats. The format of these discussions is a public Q&A with the chat’s leader, often the organizer, sharing a question and participants responding with their insights using the designated hashtag. As an influencer, I’ve had the chance to host many Twitter chats for brands and have seen how it has helped them reach new people and engage more deeply with the brand. Your audience is out there, and hosting a chat can be the first step in building an international community.
Start by searching for Twitter chats to review the feeds of influencers in your industry using Twitter’s search function. For example, popular public relations Twitter chats are #PRProChat and #MeasurePR.
There are no hard and fast rules about how can when to respond to questions but retweeting others’ comments is a collegial way to engage. Most chats will cover between 8 to 10 prepared questions but participants aren’t restricted from diving into other topics or side conversations. Industry experts are often featured as headliners on a chat they are promoted in concurrence with a chat’s topic. All of this usually takes place within an hour.
Here are five ways Twitter chats can help your brand:
1. Follower Growth
First jump on a Twitter chat and get a feel for how to engage. Joining, and participating, in a Twitter chat can help you gain exposure and a better feel of the speed of conversation. You may even notice other people on the chat beginning to follow you. Personally, I’ve always gained followers through chats. Engaging from your company’s official handle can serve to raise brand awareness among the participants and begin to cement your expertise and authenticity. New followers can then be nurtured into customers—all without a monetary cost!
2. Thought Leadership
Hosting a chat is a way to position a brand as a community leader. As the host, you choose the topic, what questions to ask and can moderate the conversation toward the goals you want to achieve. This is the opportunity to share branded insights based on internal research and frame the conversation within a community while giving it a forum to expand. Share an image that features an insight beyond the 140 character limit and ask a question at the same time. Below is an example from the #PRProChat that helps participants find the questions from the busy stream of tweet responses.
3. Partnership Opportunities
Engagement in a Twitter chat can translate into speaking opportunities, media requests or content collaborations. This small networking effort can open more doors for you as other chat hosts and community participants become aware of your brand. After hosting a Twitter chat with a beauty brand, Clarisonic, Cat Footwear reached out to me to engage in a campaign as a content creator. Participants often share recommendations on tools or experiences they’ve had, so listen in on chats relevant to your brand and find advocates or customers waiting to be contacted.
4. Transparency and Disclosure
As a Twitter chat host, this is your chance to provide an open forum for discussion with your consumer and clients, and while there is the risk of it backfiring, people will admire you for giving them that opportunity to speak with you. Most often this a chance for a brand to directly answer questions that consumers have without the forum of a press conference that journalists utilize to ask their questions.
— Petersens PR (@PetersensPR) October 14, 2014
5. Blog and Content Ideas
A variety of experiences and ideas get shared during that one hour of conversation, which can help you generate content for future blog posts or other content marketing. Follow up with a direct tweet to users you’d like to continue the conversation with offline. Those who spoke up in the public forum can be good sources for you with future marketing endeavors.