Hosting a Twitter chat is easy and free, and thus can be a great budget-friendly way to bring people together around a topic you're an expert in, or a topic you want to learn more about.
Based on the examples of some Twitter chats I've been part of recently, and on other social media tips I've found, here are three tips of what you can do to promote your Twitter chat, before and after the event.
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1. Use Different Platforms to Promote Your Chat
Since you're hosting a Twitter chat, of course you should promote the chat - the hashtag for the event, date and time, topics, and why it’s a great event people should join - on Twitter. Post various messages to get the word out, ask your followers to retweet, and ask your co-hosts to ask their followers to retweet.
Since the target audience for your Twitter chat consists of those who are on Twitter (and in particular, those who already follow you on Twitter), it makes sense to promote the event on Twitter. But you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to cross-promote your Twitter chat on other social media platforms, to increase the chance of being seen.
TriplePundit and CSRwire hosted a Twitter chat on April 23, focusing on General Mills 2014 CSR report and its sustainable sourcing goals, with the hashtag #GenMillsSusty. The chat was promoted on Google+ through an event page and email invitations sent via Google+.
Google+ event invitation email for #GenMillsSusty Twitter chat
On April 24, development leaders Half the Sky Movement, Kiva, Heifer International, and ONE (one.org) came together to host a Twitter chat on Women and Agriculture #womenagchat. The chat was promoted with a custom social image for the event, which was cross promoted on Facebook, Google+, among others.
Twitter chat announcement on Instagram by Half the Sky Movement for #womenagchat
2. Politely Promote on Other Twitter Chats
One of the golden rules of Twitter chats is no self-promotion (unless the chat topic is designed to invite participants to promote themselves). Just like in real-life conversations, it's never fun to see sales pitches and promotional tweets on Twitter chats, when what you expect is fun and engaging personal posts from your fellow tweeps.
So in general, it's not a good idea to talk about your chat during someone else’s chat. But if done well, politely encouraging the participants of another chat (on a related topic, of course) to check out yours can be a good way to get the word out and reach an audience that shares an interest in related topics.
I saw an example of this, which I thought worked pretty well. During a Travel Talk on Twitter (#TTOT) chat, PRCo UK, the organizer of the #LuxVox Twitter chat (on luxury travel), posted about the sustainable tourism edition of their chat, to be hosted on Thursday that week.
The tweet by PRCoUK about the #LuxVox chat
I was part of the #TTOT chat, and learned about the #LuxVox chat because of this message by PRCo UK, and I’m pretty sure there were at least couple of other #TTOT-ers on the #LuxVox chat as well. I think that the above invitation worked because it was straightforward but polite, and - importantly - it was send towards the end of the #TTOT chat time, so it avoided "crashing the party".
As a general rule, posting anything that's unrelated to what the hashtag (for a chat or otherwise) is intended to be about is not a good move. But a "you may be interested in this as well" message, when carefully and politely posted, can be an effective way to market your Twitter chat.
3. Spread the Word AFTER the Chat Too
There are different ways to capture some highlights or summarize key discussions following the Twitter chat so that you can make the most of your efforts organizing and promoting the chat, as well as expanding the opportunity to engage with your community beyond 60 minutes.
Storify is one good example of tools to summarize and repurpose content generated through a Twitter chat. Ashoka, for example, hosted a Twitter chat on "Accelerating Women Changemakers: A New Way of Doing Business" in 2013, and published a recap of the chat on Storify.
If you're interested in analyzing and sharing the "performance outcome" of your chat, a tool such as TweetBinder may be a useful addition to your Twitter chat related links to bookmark. CSR Wire, for example, created a TweetBinder report on the above-mentioned #GenMillsSusty chat, and shared it following the event.
Lastly, a less-automatic but possibly more impactful and SEO-boosting option is to produce a SlideShare including the chat questions and a few handpicked answers by influencers. I stumbled upon this trick on this article by Content Marketing Institute (here is the SlideShare mentioned in the article), and think that it’s an excellent social-DYI tip to make the most of all the great advice, ideas, and inspirations shared during a Twitter chat.