Have you ever thought of hosting a Twitter chat to discuss your art, but found yourself confused about the process, worried that nobody would show up, or worse that spammers would take over your chat feed?
Twitter chats can grow your fan base exponentially, increase sales of your art, and build relationships, but only if you do it correctly.
Here are eleven tips for creating a Twitter chat that gets results:
1. Create a weekly schedule
Andrew Schrage of Money Crashers says, “The first step is to establish a regular, consistent weekly schedule, as your Twitter following is unlikely to improve if you host chats sporadically.”
2. Promote your Twitter chat
“Not only does Money Crashers advertise our chats on Twitter itself, but we also promote them on our website and on other social media outlets,” Andrew continues. As with any aspect of your business, it’s important to get the word out about your Twitter chats so make sure you promote your Twitter chats two to three weeks prior to actually hosting the chat, and then provide gentle reminders as the date and time nears.
3. Choose relevant topics
When choosing a topic for your Twitter chat, make sure the discussion you choose relates to your industry, is something your readers want to know more about, and is relevant for that specific time of year. For instance, you wouldn’t want to discuss painting springtime landscapes in the middle of winter and you wouldn’t want to host a chat about quilting if you, as an artist, only create paintings on canvas or metal sculptures.
4. Select a knowledgeable moderator
“You need someone who can guide the discussion and keep it lively without dominating the conversation,” says Andrew. And you need someone who understands your industry. It’s not enough to choose someone who knows social media, you need to choose someone who can keep the conversation going by asking the right industry-related questions, who can answer industry-specific questions directed towards the moderator, and who knows industry jargon well enough to explain things in layman’s terms, if necessary.
5. Invite industry leaders, movers, and shakers
Margaret Colebeck, Marketing Associate for Vantage Advertising, LLC says it’s important to “reach out to industry leaders or active Twitter members in your field. Ask them what time works best for them to have a Twitter chat, then schedule your chat around that time.”
She goes on to say, “It’s important to select a time that works best for your industry Twitter leaders because others in the industry look up to them and will be interested in engaging in a conversation with them.”
Social Media and Content Consultant, James T. Dabbagian, M.A. (http://www.jtdabbagian.com), agrees, but also suggests that you consider promoting these industry leaders as featured guests. “Find a major artist, or other influencer, and ask if he/she would be willing to be interviewed in your chat.” Then during the chat, “you can ask him/her questions, and encourage audience members to do the same.”
6. Use an industry specific hashtag
Margaret also reminds us of the importance of using hashtags (#) when tweeting.
“My best experience and best advice is to select a hashtag that is relevant to your industry. One that those in your field can connect to. It needs to be a hashtag that will catch the eye and interest of your target audience. The hashtag should encourage those in the field to research it and then join the conversation.”
7. Prepare your chat ahead of time
Brad Lowrey, Digital Manager for Weber Shandwick, says, “Nothing kills a Twitter chat quicker than not being prepared. You should always have an agenda of topics to cover before each chat begins and regularly mention those topics during the chat so participants know what the conversation is about.”
James concurs, stating “I personally like to think up 10 questions and allot 5 minutes per question for discussion.”
8. Don’t reply to questions with a simple yes or no
Mark Kaye of Free Publicity Star reminds us of the importance of good communication by answering questions with complete sentences.
“Make sure you answer questions by repeating the question,” says Mark. “That way people don’t have to keep scrolling backwards in the conversation to figure out what you are trying to say. Say something like, ‘Yes, I do have an agent who represents me’, or ‘No, I have never done an exterior mural but I would really love to!'”
9. Use a Twitter app to manage the conversation
“Tracking a Twitter chat just on Twitter.com can become very difficult, very quickly—especially if the level of participation increases. Using a platform like Tweet Chat, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social to place the chat into a single stream window can help out immensely,” says Brad.
“My personal favorite to use is Tweet Chat as is helps me focus only on the chat and every tweet sent is automatically appended with the chat hashtag.”
10. Don’t forget to announce your next chat
Mark says, “Schedule and announce your next chat at the end of your chat. People love schedules! If they like your chat they will definitely want to know when the next one is. So the last thing you tweet should be the time of your next chat!”
11. Create a chat transcript
Because Twitter chats can be difficult to follow, and some of your fans may be in different time zones and unable to attend, it’s a good idea to create a text transcript and post it on your blog.
Not only will the transcript benefit your readers, but it’s a good way to do a little market research! For instance, by looking at which questions sparked the most interest, you’ll know what your fans want to see more of in your art, or what they want you to teach them in your workshops.
Twitter chats definitely require some effort, but they’re worth it! If you stick with a regular chat schedule and discuss topics that appeal to your audience, you’ll increase your fan base and perhaps even discover valuable insights about your industry that can help grow your business.
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