How to start a regular Twitter chat

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We have experimented with Twitter chats here at SAS, including a lively #statchat that we hosted two years ago for World Statistics Day. Likewise, our publications team has hosted a few fun Twitter chats with SAS book authors.

Outside of SAS sponsored chats, I've also participated in and really enjoyed watching the success of Mack Collier's #blogchat, one of the earliest successes in this genre.

So, today, when a co-worker reached out to ask for advice about starting a successful and ongoing chat series, I was quick to offer some tips. Here's what I told him, but I'm sure you can add a few more.

For a successful chat, you will need:

  • An owner/project manager/host of the chat (could be all same person or could be shared).
  • A catchy hashtag preferably without any obscure acronyms.
  • A calendar of monthly topics, all industry/topic focused, NOT just focused on your products.
  • An outside expert or two in addition to the host to add legitimacy, feed the chat and answer questions (they will also expand your audience if they’re already on Twitter).
  • Research up front on where to promote the chat, including:
    • Industry blogs
    • Industry linkedin groups
    • SAS blogs
    • SAS home page
    • Industry hash tags
    • Industry conferences
  • Promote the date, time, hash tag and that month’s experts & theme for a week or so leading up to the chat.
  • Prepare a general list of topics to discuss within your theme, but do not over prepare with a script.
  • Determine a call-to-action. Where will you send people to learn more after the chat?
  • Show up on Twitter and start chatting. Have a few plants in place to ask questions if you get radio silence.

It strikes me as I reread this list that in a lot of ways, preparing for a Twitter chat is similar to preparing for a regular talk show or Webcast series, but on a different channel and without any video, lighting, staging or makeup concerns.

So, what are your Twitter chat tips? And what's your favorite Twitter chat right now?

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About Author

Alison Bolen

Editor of Blogs and Social Content

+Alison Bolen is an editor at SAS, where she writes and edits content about analytics and emerging topics. Since starting at SAS in 1999, Alison has edited print publications, Web sites, e-newsletters, customer success stories and blogs. She has a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and a master’s degree in technical writing from North Carolina State University.

2 Comments

  1. Hey Alison, thanks for the #Blogchat mention! There's one thing I have noticed over the past couple of months that I think is benefiting #Blogchat. Because I've had sponsors for the last couple of months, it's forced me to plan out the topics ahead of time. This is honestly something that I just didn't always make the time to do, often I wouldn't pick a topic until Saturday or even the day of the chat. But for the last several weeks I've worked with the sponsors to set the topics several days in advance, and I believe that's part of the reason why participation and activity is up in that same timeframe. Sure, some people aren't going to even look at the hashtag till every Sunday right when the chat starts, but for the others that watch it during the week, posting the topic for that week well in advance is driving more interest, I think. Thanks again for the mention!

    • Alison Bolen

      Great point, Mack. I can see how the pre-promotion of the topic might encourage some folks to save time on their calendar to participate.

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