Tapping into Twitter Chats — organized and recurring Twitter conversations around a variety of topics — can give you a new perspective on your niche. Many well established Twitter Chats have regular contributors who dive into the Chats week after week. Following key Chats in your niche can help you unveil new relationships and find a whole new group of influencers you may not have been previously aware of, even if you’ve been on Twitter for ages.
If you’re not sure how to dive in and get started, here are a few ways to get in and connect with the conversations and people who may already be right in your Twitter feed.
Find the Right Chat
Online chat rooms may be out of vogue these days, but people still want their moderated chats. If you follow a lot of like-minded tweeters from a similar industry, chances are you’ve noticed many people using the same hashtag. While it may seem all very random and organic as you’re browsing your Twitter feed, chances are the hashtag you see popping up again and again is connected to something like a Twitter Chat. Generally, the Chats are organized, take place at a predetermined day and time and are promoted through the organizer’s website, networks, and Twitter account.
A quick Google search will unveil lists of Twitter Chats for just about every industry out there. But you’ll want to focus on those which are worth your time. Consider the participants and the geographical region people are tweeting from. Don’t forget the topics of conversation: can you seamlessly insert yourself into the conversation without seeming too like you’re pitching or selling your services?
Be an Active Participant
When you find the right Twitter chat, you should have something to say about the topic before you dive in. Many Twitter chats will have an overall theme, but then delve into specific questions or sub-topics during the chat. Remember, you’re participating on behalf of your business. Consider what’s appropriate commentary or content from your business’ point of view. Ask yourself how your business will be perceived as a result of your responses.
Spend some time following a chat, taking note of who participates before you actually say something. Once you start chatting, give yourself some time to gain some credibility with other chat participants first. Be genuine and have a real conversation, so that when you do start to connect one-on-one with others, it won’t feel like you’ve come out of nowhere. You don’t want other chatters to feel like you’ve just parachuted into a chat to find a few people to connect with before disappearing just as quickly. And finally, don’t forget to use the hashtag for the chat so that everyone participating knows what you’re contributing to the topic.
Get to Know the Chat Participants
Building relationships online takes time. When you’ve identified a few influencers in a Twitter chat, take a look at their Twitter bios and any associated links. When you take the time to know something about the people you’re reaching out to, it helps your business learn more about your customers (or potential customers). When you do reach out to them and have a conversation, you’ll know more about them than their profile picture. That knowledge will come through in your conversations with people and they’ll appreciate the effort and find it easier to trust you.
Leverage Twitter tools, such as Lists to categorize the people you follow or chat with. If your List is public, this shows people you’re chatting with that you’ve noticed their conversations. It reiterates that you value what they’re saying and that they warrants a permanent place within your Twitter account.
Start Your Own Twitter Chat
Jessica McLaughlin: Jessica is a digital media professional in Toronto, Canada with broad experience in web—particularly social media, online communities, content development and blogging. Jessica has worked for many major Canadian broadcasters, including YTV, Food Network, and HGTV.