Twitter Chat Tips for Small Business Owners

Twitter ChatsSince I’m a guest on Melinda Emerson’s (@SmallbizLady’s) #SmallBizChat show tonight, I thought I’d do a quick post with ideas on how you can use a Twitter chat to make deeper online business connections. If you are not active on Twitter yet, feel free to skip or skim this post. I helped Melinda start this chat several years ago and co-hosted her chat with her for over 80 shows, so we know a thing or two about chats…and how they can be a small business secret weapon.

What is a Twitter chat?

Twitter chats are unique, in that, instead of tweeting into the equivalent of an empty room, which you hope that a few of you followers are passing by at the time, instead someone like Melinda, has picked a day of the week and  a time and a topic, and a hashtag (in this case #SmallBizChat) and has publicized that event on Twitter and on her blog. This means that at that day and time, people interested in that topic will show up. No more tweeting to an “empty room.”

How Can I Make Twitter Chat’s Work for Me?

But like some offline networking events, Twitter chats can feel crowded. Here are some tips to help cut through the chatter. Try using a third-party tool to help you  keep up try or in party mode (put the #hashtag in the top, host’s twitter name and the guest’s twitter name in the middle, and your name in the bottom – then a three column grid comes up – all tweets in left column, the host and guest’s tweets in the middle and yours in the right column). Melinda has prepared a tweetgrid for tonight already: Book mark it and come back 8 pm ET Weds. 3/27/13.

Be sure you know the host (@SmallBizLady) and guest’s (@CathywebSavvyPR) Twitter names, follow both of them. Keep an eye out for the questions and answers they will be tweeting.

  • If you are just listening in, or a new to chats on Twitter, at least retweet a tweet about the chat topic and guest for the night, or one of the questions so the host knows you are there.
  • But please don’t retweet everything you see. Be selective, retweet the things you think your followers would find important. Too many RT’s clutters the chat (although I know I break this rule sometimes, I get caught up in chats)
  • Let the guest answer, then pop up and answer if you have knowledge to add to the conversation. But keep it balanced, don’t be spammy.
  • If someone tweets something interesting, hit the star and mark it as a favorite for later. Then later check out their profile or the link and decide to follow them or not.
  • If there is a potential connection, reach out in a tweet and let them know you liked what they had to say on the chat.
  • If you like a chat, come more than once. this helps build connections. I have gotten business referrals and straight business from frequent participation in a chat.
  • If you disagree with something someone says on a chat, it’s okay to say so, but try not to start a distracting flame war during the chat. Try and make it constructive, or get into it AFTER the chat.
  • Get to know the chat’s guidelines or flow. Some let you introduce yourself at the start, others only at the end, others never say. Look to the chat host for guidance.
  • Some chats put up a framing post before the chat, others put up a blog post after the chat with more detailed information from the guest. Some chats have no guests. Each chat hosts runs their own show.
  • After the chat, follow the people who intrigued you, or who gave good info. If you liked the guest’s info, check out their website/blog. Comment on something you find there. If the guest wasn’t your cup of tea, see who is on the chat the next week.
  • As a thanks to the host, if they tweet out about the next week’s topic and guest, retweet it, if you think your followers would be interested.

that’s my quick post about Twitter chats. what are your best tips?

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