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TWITTER CHAT GUIDELINES & BEST PRACTICES
What is a Twitter Chat
A Twitter chat is a schedule online discussion centered around a specific topic using a designated hashtag. Below we detail the steps needed to get the most of your chat and build quality engagement with your target audience.
Identify your target audience.
Who do you want to participate in this chat? Who are your followers? Who is interested in this subject/content? Use Twitter Analytics to determine who your audience already is and identify those you aren't currently reaching.
Select a date & time for the chat.
Base your decision on your target audience. Are they usually tethered to their social media accounts? Then a daytime, weekday chat is a good idea. If your audience is mostly users who login to twitter after the workday, then an evening chat is a better choice. Are you hoping to target a specific geographical area - ensure the time you choose is reasonable for that timezone.
Determine your objective.
Are you promoting an event? Raising awareness about an issue or cause? Creating a space for dialog about a difficult subject? Spreading the word about an upcoming campaign? Your objective will inform your hashtag, marketing plan and more.
Choose a hashtag & synthesize your topic.
The topic will be directly related to your objective, but distilled down to one basic point. The hashtag is critical to your promotion of the chat & the reach of the objective. When choosing a hashtag be sure it is:
Related to your theme/topic
Easy to remember
Short - no longer than 15 characters ideally to allow ample room for Participants’ tweets
General enough to use for additional twitter chats
Not used by anyone else in large numbers in the last 6 months
Assign Chat Roles.
Moderator - This person will be the main force behind your Twitter chat. They will need access to whatever handle the chat will be hosted on (We recommend using the main handle of the organization/company whenever possible). When multiple organizations are participating, designate one account as the main moderator with the other accounts RT each question. The moderator will also RT all responses to each question during the chat. The TL the manage during the chat will become the main source of content post chat.
Chat Guest(s) of Honor - This is a critical user who will be used to promote the chat & will be tagged in each of the chat questions. Expectations of the guest is that they are available at the scheduled chat time with access to stable internet connection. They will answer all the questions at the designated time. These should be high profile people already involved in the chat topic and very active on twitter. They should be invited via email & sent a list of the chat questions in advance of the live chat. Be sure to ask them what they are currently promoting so you can lift that up during the chat. You want this to be a win-win endeavor for everyone involved.
Chat Squad - These are key users who are invited specifically to participate in the chat, These are trusted allies or accounts that are generally knowledgeable about the chat topic or have a vested interest in the objective. Their answers will help stimulate traffic to the chat hashtag right away. You are essentially front loading the chat via the chat squad. This can be partner organizations or individual twitter users.
Promote The Chat.
Create digital marketing materials for the chat
Information that should be included in all promotional materials:
Guest of Honor Handle
Date/Time INCLUDING TIME ZONE
Share images via multiple social media platforms
Ensure at least ONE of the main promotional images is created in the Twitter Image Post dimensions (1024 px X 512 px) which will ensure the full image is visible on twitter.
General Marketing Tasks
Register your hashtag with Twubs
Be sure to ask your Chat Squad to amplify your promotional efforts.
Create an event page on Facebook and/or EventBrite for your chat.
Promote the chat via organization & key player websites/blogs.
Create promotion calendar with emphasis on twitter promotion
Create a Chat Brief
This document will essentially be an outline for your chat. You will use it to outline the questions you will post during the chat as well as pre-written promotional messages, thanks you & critical links, twitter handles and information. Ensure all planned tweets are under the 140 character limit.
Ideally your moderator would create this document which will ensure they are well versed in everything related to the chat and equipped to lead the conversation. If your discussion includes a sensitive topic, include a general FAQ on how to handle tough issues/questions that may come up during the chat.
Run a smooth Chat
Using your Chat Brief to create a detailed schedule for your chat tweets
Use an application like Hootsuite to manage the chat.
Use Hootsuite (or similar application) to schedule promotion tweets through the first question.
Start your chat off with a few introductory tweets:
Thanking everyone for joining you
Thank your Guest(s) or honor - include links to their website or anything else they are promoting.
Giving some general context to the chat - include the hashtag, the twitter handle(s) to follow.
Give rules to the chat:
Ex: To keep the chat lively and useful be sure to reference question #'s: Ex: For Q1 you reply should start w/ A1 & always use MT & RT as needed
Post Chat Tasks
Analyze the reach of the hashtag
Create a Twitter List with all handles that participated in the chat.
This will allow you to identify potential chat squad members & guests of honor in the future.
Compile a Storify or other post chat compilation of the conversation
The Moderator timeline should be used to create a Storify of the chat as soon as the chat is completed. The link to the storify should be the final tweet added to the chat questions thread.
Send a thank you email to your Guest(s) of Honor including a link to the Storify and a request for them to share it via their networks.
General Twitter Chat Best Practices
Send a reminder email to your Guest(s) of Honor & Chat Squad the week before the chat.
Send a final reminder via email to your Guest of Honor the day before the chat.
Link questions into one twitter thread by replying to the previous question so that a user can go to one tweet to see all the questions.
DO NOT schedule all questions - the chat moderate should read the traffic for each question to determine when to post the next question with a goal of posted a new question every 3-5 minutes.
If you already know the date, time of the NEXT chat, be sure to include that in the final moderator tweets & in the Storify of the chat.
Ideally the promotional image for the next chat would be shared at the end of the current chat.