By Tiffany Ryan (@TiffanyRyan)
In the early days of Internet infancy, before businesses embraced the Web as a communication platform, online chat groups were all the rage for users coming online for the first time. People with shared interests banded together to discuss topics of interest, meet new people, and more. Online chat groups have faded away and today, the tweet chat is emerging. What makes a tweet chat different is that it is being embraced by business users. A tweet chat is a virtual online meeting that provides people with the opportunity to connect, network and converse about a specific topic at a predetermined time on Twitter.
While Twitters open chat room approach allows for the free-flowing exchange of ideas and dialogue, a successful tweet chat requires both structure and careful planning. To run a successful tweet chat, consider the following:
Define your purpose. Similar to any marketing event, map out your goals, purpose and event flow. Even if your plan is to have free-flowing discussion, prepare an agenda to maintain control and direct the conversation to ensure participants stay on topic.
Get familiar with the model. To get comfortable with the tweet chat format, attend an existing chat before moderating your own. This way, you can see one in action and ensure you have the right tone, personality and pace.
Also, even if you create your own tweet chat, success is predicated on having a roomful of participants. By participating in existing chats, you can build connections that enable you to create an audience for your own discussion.
Create a unique hashtag. Hashtags help users identify relevant tweets and make them easier to follow. Prior to issuing your hashtag, conduct a search on Twitter to make sure it is unique.
Select a moderator (or two!). Moderators make sure that the conversation stays on topic and delivers on its intended purpose. For more structured chats, have the moderator work with your experts in advance to prepare questions and responses. If you plan on having a few “canned responses, make sure you only reply with them one time to keep the content fresh.
Collaboration is a key. When hosting a chat with several moderators, make sure they are connected via phone to ensure a consistent tone and approach. This offline connection also enables the host to troubleshoot effectively in case of a technical glitch.
Give your chat visibility. Be sure to promote your chat on other social media platforms such as adding the event to your companys Facebook page or promote it on LinkedIn groups where you currently actively participate. Also, tweet about your event ahead of time and ask followers to retweet the topic, time and date.
Provide a post-event transcript. Tweet chats offer a wealth of information, but most users only get bits of the conversation. Go to What the Hashtag prior to your event and add your unique hashtag to the site. Then, let participants know they can go there and download a transcript after the event.