It’s easy to get a Twitter chat going. You just let a bunch of your fans know when you’ll be online and what the designated hashtag will be and then hop in to moderate. The basic gist is to conduct a Q&A session where you provide valuable, meaningful assistance to customers (rather than spending this hour hard-selling). Of course, there are many finer points to holding a successful meeting, not to mention many helpful tools that make the chat easier to facilitate — as Bufferapp discusses in their step-by-step guide. If you’re still on the fence as to whether or not you should bother with Twitter chats, consider these eight benefits for your business.
8 Ways Twitter Chat Will Build Your Brand
1. Twitter Chat humanizes your business.
When you create a Twitter Chat, you can include the community manager’s Twitter handle in your brand’s Twitter bio, so participants can put a face to the moderator. Or, if you prefer, you can use a photo of your employees as the header or background image of your Twitter page. Adding a personal touch like this, in addition to hosting your informal chat session, makes your brand appear more responsive, friendly and approachable.
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2. Build trust with prospects and customers.
Twitter Chats give off the illusion of spontaneity, so users are watching how your moderator reacts when put on the spot. Providing confident, well-thought answers shows grace under pressure and authenticity. It’s a great tool for trust-building and flexing your expertise.
There is no shame in preparing for your chat, though. The high traffic volume and frequency of messages can be overwhelming. You’ll definitely want to have a list of questions and ideal answers with you during the session so you can cut and paste answers as much as possible to get the maximum value from your 140 characters.
There are many approaches to prep work, but Simply Measuredrecommends networking with influencers who relate to your brand; tapping an expert within or outside of your company to brainstorm possible questions and talking points; and running a Twitter Audience Analysis to find common keywords and topics that interest your followers. You can also try participating in other industry-related Twitter Chats to get a feel for the format ahead of time. To find relevant chats, you can check out: Google Spreadsheet, Twubs or Tweet Reports.
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3. Promote your brand in other chat sessions.
Hosting your own Twitter Chats is not the only way to turn heads. You can expand your brand’s reach outside your network by actively participating in chats related to your industry. Tweet about the chat in your own feed ahead of time to build rapport with like minds and promote the event to your followers, should the topic interest them.
As Lisa Barone at Small Biz Trendspoints out, Twitter chats are “an excellent opportunity to meet new people, increase [your] own influence and gain valuable insight on a particular topic.” She adds that Twitter Chats are “a great networking tool,” especially if you take the time to follow users you enjoyed interacting with and send emails to the hosts to let them know you found value in their event. These people often end up adding you as a contact, too.
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4. Show off your expertise.
Before getting into a chat, spend some time creating original shareable images, quote graphics and assembling any other internal resources (like charts, statistics, infographics, etc.) that you feel may add value to the conversation. A well-timed quote graphic tweet really adds to the value of a Twitter chat. Contributing something meaningful and insightful is a great way to get your brand noticed amid a busy Twitter chat stream.
5. Generate exposure for your brand name.
Contacting additional employees to join a chat session will maximize your brand’s exposure. You don’t want your entire team hijacking a chat, but you can get several other company voices into the discussion, as Hootsuite does during #SbizHour. Within your own feed, it then becomes a way to show that multiple employees are valuable participants in other industry-related discussions.
6. Use the transcripts as content for your audience.
Often times, Twitter chats will provide a transcript or recap of the event, which makes for a great retweet or blog entry. You’ll see examples of this practice on The Footprint Network, Travel & Leisure, and Triple Pundit. You may even choose to use the topics of conversation as the basis for a blog post or ask permission to quote some of the chat participants in an upcoming blog.
7. Gain name recognition by sponsoring a chat.
Lending an active voice to the conversation is the best way to gain notoriety, but even if you don’t have the time or desire to participate in other Twitter Chats, you can still sponsor one. As Tapp Network explains, “Hosts typically mention sponsors before and after events, so participants will still be aware of your organization’s role in the event.” Contact a chat organizer directly or check out Tweet Reports for more info on how you can pay to sponsor a chat.
8. Gain more impressions and engagement with followers.
At the end of the day, you may not see significant sales increases from your efforts, but positive advances can still be made. For instance, eHealthcareSolutions received a 700% increase in impressions and an 800% increase in engagements on the days leading up to, during and following their Twitter chats. They added 25 new followers per chat, which was a much higher rate than normal. Since they are relatively new to Twitter Chats, they acknowledge there are improvements to be made, but they are happy with the short-term gains from their efforts.
On a larger scale, Boehringer Ingelheim saw a 7% follower spike after their diabetes chats, with 1,200 new fans. They saw double the engagement rate for their tweets compared to competitors. Best of all, their chat participant was mentioned by mainstream media as a “digital opinion leader.”
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