Twitter chats are one of the most effective ways to increase your nonprofit organization’s Twitter engagement without spending a dime. A Twitter chat is a moderated, live discussion focused around a general topic. It’s scheduled at a specific time and all the tweets related to the discussion are marked with a hashtag. Usually, the moderator will pose a question, marked with a “Q.” Participants mark their answers with an “A” and the number of the original question.
Participating in these live events lets you interact with your target audience and potential partners in a forum that can generate thousands of tweets and attract support for your cause. You can also share your expertise, establish yourself as a thought leader, and grow your Twitter following.
Not sure how to get started as a participant? These tips can help you become a successful Twitter chat participant!
Watch and learn
Twitter chats can move quickly, sometimes generating one tweet per second. If you’ve never participated in a chat before, watch one before you jump in so you aren’t overwhelmed the first time around.
Promote the host’s content leading up to the chat
Engage with the host’s tweets or share resources from their site in the week leading up to the chat. This way the host will be more likely to recognize and interact with you during the chat.
Email the host a few days before the chat to see if they will share the questions with you in advance. At the very least they will tell you the topic, enabling you to compile links and responses you can share during the chat.
Tweet a “high volume warning” in advance
Warn your Twitter followers before you join the Twitter chat that you’ll be pushing out a high volume of tweets at the given time, and share an invite to join the chat if you think it might interest your followers.
Share relevant resources and links
Put together useful resources and links from other sites and organizations you would like to potentially partner with. Sharing their content during the chat can be a great way to get on their radar and facilitate conversations. Just be sure to tag them in your tweets.
Avoid excessive self-promotion
A good rule of thumb is to limit yourself to sharing your organization’s resources no more than twice during the chat. Anything more can come across as spammy.
Use a chatroom
You can follow a chat on Twitter, but using a chatroom can make keeping track of the conversation easier. Tools like tchat.io and TweetChat.com automatically update and add the hashtag to your tweet, which helps you keep up with the chat. Try them out to see which one you like best.
Relax and have fun
If you’re stressed and not having fun, you are doing something wrong. Twitter chats can move quickly, so don’t expect to catch everything everyone says. Relax, keep up as best you can and remember to have a good time!
Even though Twitter has increased the character count allowed for tweets, some of the chatrooms may not support the increased character count. Keep your responses to 140 characters or less so your responses are seen by everyone, regardless of how they are monitoring the chat.
Don’t answer every question
It’s not necessary to answer every question. If you don’t know an answer (or even if you do), don’t be afraid to sit back and let other people answer, then share and respond to the answers you liked most.
Interact with participants
The more you engage with others during the chat, the more people will remember you. Retweet useful responses, give positive feedback to participants with interesting insights, and thank people who share valuable resources.
Know when to drop the hashtag
If a conversation gets going between you and another participant, drop the chat hashtag and continue the conversation separately. Other participants don’t want to read an unrelated conversation when trying to participate in the chat.
Be a good guest and thank the host for putting on the Twitter chat. It’s good manners and helps make you memorable.
After the chat, check out some of the participants’ profiles and follow the ones who would be good to engage with outside of the chat. This can help you find useful content to share with your followers and may even facilitate new partnerships.
Twitter chats are about connecting and learning. Provide as much value on the topic as you can, and demonstrate your expertise without over-promoting. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it easier to make connections and raise your profile among your existing followers, and new ones.