Editor’s note: This article was first published in December 2015 and has been updated in August 2020 with fresh content and insights. Enjoy!
Are you looking for information on how to host a Twitter chat?
Then, this guide is for YOU. (Note: I update this regularly.)
What is a Twitter Chat?
A Twitter chat is an organized event on Twitter that focuses on a predetermined topic chosen by the host which may be a company, brand or an individual.
It has a set schedule, a host, cohorts and guest hosts. Twitter chats use a hashtag to identify the chat.
Whether you are the organize or the attendee, the hashtag keeps the conversation visible and on-topic.
A twitter chat is sometimes called, as a tweetchat.
I’ve been on Twitter for over a decade.
Joining organized this kid of organized conversation on Twitter (read: Twitter chats) is not only beneficial but could also be strategic for companies that wish to take their tweeting up a notch.
The guide below is a detailed checklist for Twitter chat best practices.
Hosting a Twitter chat is a lot of work. It is fun and rewarding to those consistently either hosting or attending it, but it is, still, WORK.
Ready to work?
Goal and Resources
Know why you will host a chat. And take stock of what you have in terms of time and other skills needed to get it going.
A few questions that are worth exploring before hosting a Twitter chat.
- Why are you doing the Twitter chat? What is your goal?
- Is it beneficial for your business? How so?
- Is it beneficial to your audience? How so?
- Would topic be unique and relevant?
- Do you have enough followers to invite?
- Do you have the capacity?
- How are you going to find guest-hosts?
- Do you have tools needed to run it? Less learning curve?
- How are you going to measure the success of what you are doing?
Hosting a Twitter Chat: Tasks List
So here are all 51 tasks to do BEFORE, DURING and AFTER a Twitter chat.
Before Your Twitter Chat: What to do
- Join a few Twitter chats before hosting one. Watch how others do it.
There are lessons that are better caught than taught. Experience is an exceptional teacher.
- Define what the Twitter chat is about and use that as your chat’s pitch when inviting others to join you either as an attendee, or as a guest.
- Invite your followers, employees and other tweeters that you want to be part of your Twitter chat community. Be tenacious in doing this. Be relentlessly tenacious because not everyone will be up for it. To grow your Twitter chat, you just have to keep on people reminding about it.
- Determine how much shameless plugs you would do when you run the chat. Tweeters are smart people. They get fatigued with too much shameless plugs. I do.
- Automate invitation.
- Call-out Twitter niches you think would be benefit from the chat. Use hashtags to do that.
- “Two is better than one.” Instead of just doing the planning alone, invite co-hosts to share the load. One serves as the host, the other as the moderator, or whatever the situation may be. The #USAMfgHour chat of which I am one of the Co-Hosts has this down. Use your cohorts’ superpower, a.k.a. strengths and skills. Determine who does what before you launch the Twitter chat event.
- Create a content calendar for your topics.
- Invite guest-hosts whose super-power complements what you wish to accomplish to help your community.
- Create an image that captures key details of the chat. It is better that this image comes from you and not your guest? Why? For consistency and it takes the load off your guest too. The image could include information like the chat topic, the Twitter chat’s hashtag, the schedule, the time zone, the hosts, and cohosts, guest/s. Pin it to your Twitter profile. Re-tweet it often before the Twitter chat so other people will have the chance to join or schedule it.
- Invite with topics ready when inviting others.
- Prepare questions and post it on your website and social media platforms. It helps to set expectations. Also, it lends some depth to the Twitter chat conversation when people are prepared.
- Have a plan on what to do with trolls and hijackers. (Ignore, respond or block?)
- Share and re-share invitation as a reminder.
- Share any helpful tool that you recommend your Twitter chat community could use beside Twitter app.
- Use one Twitter chat hashtag consistently. Research the hashtag. See if it is already in use, or not; and if in use, in what context. There are a lot of horror stories about hashtags that have unsavory usage.
- Claim a Twitter account for that chat. Is this even necessary? Some do this, others don’t. But if your Twitter chat is for the long haul, here is one story. Someone on Twitter attempted to steal the #USAMfgHour chat from the group by creating a Twitter account that looked similar to the #USAMfgHour chat. Thankfully, one of the cohosts had the foresight to create a Twitter account associated to the chat. So that Twitter account helped take care of that besides the many friends of the manufacturing chat that helped report the poser.
- Post the tweet chat calendar on different social media platform or your website for your other fans or followers to see, and hopefully join.
- Determine what tool to use to manage the Twitter Chat. Also, make sure you have a backup when the tool acts up. Trust me, it happens.
- Prepare a guide on how the conversation should flow and share it. Example: Q1 (for question #1), and A1 for an answer to question #1 and what hashtag to include if a Twitter attendee and host are new. Or as a reminder so others do not forget it.
- Plan on how long you want to camp out on each question.
- Pick easy, helpful and easy topics.
- Avoid inside-jokes and jargons unless it is a clique group chat. It could throw off attendees that are not familiar with such unnecessary nuance in a chat. I am talking from experience here.
- Finalize details with your other co-hosts and guest-hosts, including roles, timing of tweets and expectations.
- On Twitter, create a list of those who you think would be your potential participants of the Twitter chat so you can focus on engaging with them. And then you can use that list to remind them about it. You can pre-schedule the Twitter invitation to that list using a social media management tool of your choice. This is a huge time-saver.
- Prepare 6-8 questions before hand complete with your hashtags. Six questions should be plenty, including an ice breaker or two.
During your Twitter chat
- Post questions both as texts and as image. If you just use image only, it could be hard to read, sometimes, so posting the Twitter chat question would be an enormous help to attendees. Also, using BOTH image and texts are eye-catching.
- Be there early to welcome participants.
- Be polite, and stay polite.
- Fire-up the witter chat. If you have a Twitter guest host, take to task the retweeting and favoriting tweets. You support your guest and your community that way. It is not about you. Social media is about THEM, although it is YOUR chat.
- Endeavor to engage with other Tweeters, if you are the host. Spread out a bit and engage with other participants.
- Share a quick guide about how the chat should go before posting your first question and then re-share it during the second half for those who jumped in later. This is to keep things consistent.
- Acknowledge participants of your chat.
- Prepare everyone for the next question. Just say it so, just to keep the flow going.
- It won’t hurt to once again tell your Twitter attendees what tool you are using for the chat.
- Frequently, remind your community what hashtag to use so tweets don’t fall into the cracks.
- Relax, it is just a twitter chat. You don’t have to elbow yourself in. This is not a Ph. D. dissertation. It is a chat.
Relax, it is just a twitter chat.Click To Tweet
- Copy and paste what you did in #26 instead of typing it.
- If you are doing the chat alone, pre-schedule/automate your questions so you have time to engage and answer questions.
- If your guest is in a different part of the country, or in another country, it is better to have other communication tools open like Skype, email, your phone, or FaceTime. In case, something untoward happens like internet going down, etc, suddenly. This happened to a chat I was hosting for a client, hence I added this here.
- Regarding #40, there are other things that may not go as planned, so just be ready to adapt and pivot in the middle of a chat.
After Your Twitter chat
- Summarize the Twitter chat by highlighting interesting and helpful answers and repurpose it into a different content format for you to redistribute.
- Ask your audience for topics that would interest them.
- Confirm with next guest (if you have one) the schedule and topic of next chat.
- Share metrics that shows how the event went.
- Follow up/end with a thank-you.
- Do a quick review of the Twitter chat in case you have missed a question or to continue with the conversation.
- For SEO, keep an optimized summary of chat on your website. That is if your website is easy to update. If not, post it somewhere where it is public so you can refer to it, e.g. LinkedIn Pulse.
- Measure. Measure. Measure. What should you measure? Among other social media metrics: note the number of participants, the number of tweets produced by that chat, and the chat’s reach. And even the quality of the chat.
- Evaluate what worked and what did not for efficiencies.
- If applicable, add an after Twitter chat Facebook live event video to your group or Facebook page to keep the Twitter chat party going.
You can prepare hosting a Twitter chat using this guide but one thing you need to remember is that sometimes things do not go as planned.
And if that happens, remember these:
- Take a deep breath and host the Twitter chat like a pro that you are.
- Don’t get stuck in making sure all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed when unexpected circumstances happen.
- It is a chat. While we want it to be as smooth as possible and top-notch as possible, remember that it is, again, a CHAT, a Twitter “happy hour” so, kickback and loosen up.
- Make sure that you are having fun your self. Fun is contagious.
Do you have questions on how to host a Twitter chat? Have you hosted one before? Do you need help to plan your own Twitter chat from start to finish? Are you on the fence about Twitter chat? You can check out my tips on the benefits of joining a Twitter chat for your company.