The power of live Twitter chat for your business


Using Twitter chat for better business

To find success on Twitter you have to engage your audience. Discover how live Twitter chats can help you do just that

Twitter is not simply a broadcast channel for companies to endlessly post marketing material and constantly sell. It is about stimulating conversation to get your audience to engage with your content and updates. Take a look at how the likes of Jaffa Cakes and Tesco Mobile have succeeded in raising their Twitter profile and showcasing their brand personality in the process.

A Twitter chat is a public, scheduled Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag. Users can follow the discussion through this hashtag and participate in the conversation. Hosting your own Twitter chat is not only a great way to grow and understand your community, but it’s an opportunity to really interact with your followers and promote your business in the process.  This could be in the form of discussing industry topics with peers and influencers to establish yourselves as thought leaders, or a direct conversation with consumers about a new product or area of your business.

We recently launched our own live Twitter chat on @BlackBerry4Biz with industry analyst Rob Enderle, who fielded questions from participants about bring your own device (BYOD). Rob interacted with the Twitter community about BYOD best practices, challenges, and what the future holds for the industry. Read more about the #EMMRealities Twitter chat.

When done correctly, Twitter chats are extremely powerful at increasing your network and establishing brand expertise. When done badly, it can backfire quickly and leave a few red faces in your marketing department! Read on to discover how to run a successful Twitter chat, as well as the pitfalls to avoid.

1. The key to success: good preparation

The first step is determining the subject of your Twitter chat. To decide this, take a look at a number of other Twitter chats from competitors and other companies, both inside and outside of your industry.

One of the core areas that can make or break a Twitter chat is the event hashtag [see #McDstories for an example of how a hashtag can backfire]. It is essential to choose a hashtag to aggregate all of the conversation into one feed – opt for a short and succinct hashtag that is engaging and easy to remember.

Be sure to prepare for every outcome when planning your Twitter chat; have your team fully briefed and acting as moderators to control the conversation, and have a system to escalate to your customer services team if needs be to answer any difficult or specific questions. Once this has been agreed, it is all about promotion: use your website, blog, email campaigns and various social platforms to notify people of your upcoming Twitter chat.

Top Tip: Use tools such as twchat for a list of real-time Twitter chats taking place and make a note of ideas that you can then incorporate into your Twitter chat.

2. Organise and structure your chat for maximum success

You have your event hashtag, you have promoted your event and your team has been briefed – which means you are ready to go. At the beginning of your Twitter chat, introduce your speaker and/or team and give participants time to start tweeting with the event hashtag. Once the live chat has started, structure it by announcing your topic and asking a new question at 5-10 minute intervals. Get your moderators to invite new members, welcoming new members and continuing the conversation so it all runs smoothly.

It is a good idea to keep guiding the conversation by summarising important points as you progress, offer up your own thoughts and suggestions, and be sure to retweet the best answers you receive.

When it comes to the end of the chat, you can finish by summarising the most important points and following it up with a blog post the next day to aggregate all of the opinions and topics discussed.

Top Tip: It is a good idea to have a landing page or FAQ’s section on your website to refer users to, so as to easily and quickly deal with any common questions – particularly if there is a high volume of queries to deal with. Use tools such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to easily manage the stream of conversations.

3. And here is what not to do…

  1. Timing is crucial: Be aware of when you are hosting your Twitter chat and avoid what happened to British Gas with their #AskBG live chat. Organising a live chat is not a great idea on the same day of a significant price rise, and the company paid the price, with angry customers quick to point the finger at the energy supplier.
  2. Do not back out at the last minute: JP Morgan annoyed Twitter users when they cancelled their #AskJPM live chat at the last minute. After weeks of promotion, the financial firm backed out, leaving many users angry at not having the chance to express their views and ask questions.
  3. Be careful of who you ask to represent your company: Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary knew he would get backlash when he hosted his first ever live Twitter chat in October. But what he should not have done is made inappropriate comments towards Twitter users based on their profile. Social media is a great way for big brands to show personality and lend a human touch, but it is important to get the balance right and remain professional at all times.

When managed correctly, Twitter chats build the bridge between your company and your customers, allowing you to engage on a new level. Has your business conducted a Twitter chat? Let us know your thoughts below and remember to tweet @BlackBerry4Biz

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