Sitting down to personally chat with the most influential, amazing people in an industry was virtually impossible before social media.
One-on-one conversations with heroes, influencers and leaders rarely happened. They just weren’t accessible. How we learned was completely different, too. Experts are now available with the click of a mouse and five seconds of social media searching, and Google happily delivers free education on any topic we can possibly conceive of. Twitter chats, Periscope, Google Hangouts, YouTube videos, LinkedIn articles – expertise is available everywhere we look, with authors and influencers completely open to direct conversation.
If I were a meme or automated gif kinda girl, I’d put one here but, alas, I’m not.
September marked the third anniversary of #PRprochat. Thirty-six Twitter chats!! We’ve gone from a fledgling chat with nobody listening and a moderator grateful if the same three people showed up each month, to a chat with incredible guests like Jay Baer, Gini Dietrich, Danny Sullivan, Jeff Rohrs and more.
This month, we hit our highest numbers ever, REACHING OVER 1.25 MILLION TWITTER USERS and 23+ million timelines, largely thanks to the reach of my amazing guest, Danny Sullivan (Search Engine Land). Source: Hashtracking
Not bad for an introvert, right?
The next year will be even more incredible, with an AMAZING 2016 lineup of guests coming your way. Troll control with Jay Baer, writing tips from Ann Handley, content marketing with Mark Schaefer, agency growth hacks with Ketchum’s Stephen Waddington, storytelling brilliance from Michael Margolis (GetStoried) and more. It’s going to be fantastic and I can’t wait.
Want chat reminders on your calendar, so you don’t miss a single fabulous guest? Check out the new widget on my website here – look for the blue button in the sidebar.
After three years of chats, I’ve learned a thing or two.
- Be prepared for disaster. What happens if your Internet glitches? Your phone dies? Your laptop crashes? Always have a back-up plan or person. (At least the days of Twitmo Twitter jail are long gone!)
- Create images with the chat question – it helps people see them in a fast-moving stream. Promoting the chat with images within your tweet also helps quite a bit.
- Market the hell out of your event. Nobody knows or cares about your chat, unless you bring it to their attention.
- Have a purpose and a strategy. Is the goal to show your own expertise? Personal branding? Then don’t let the guest steal the show – share the limelight by adding in your own expertise, and do the occasional chat without a special guest. Building a brand? Leverage your own internal experts and let them shine occasionally, but let your guests be the focal point.
- Grow by leveraging guest speakers. It makes a big difference to reach when their audience is partnered with yours, and gives a huge boost to the quality of your chat. Don’t expect them to promote your chat to their audience unless you actually ask them, however.
- Make sure your guests are prepared, especially if they have little Twitter experience. If it is a large chat, encourage them to prepare some of their tweets in advance, so they have time to engage. Otherwise, their time gets taken over by questions from chat participants, and the tips don’t quite seem to happen as you expected.
- Create a transcript on Storify, then embed it as a page on your website. This gives you a lasting piece of content from the chat, long after the event is over, which you can repurpose at your leisure.
- Show your guests how much you value and appreciate them after the chat, I like to send a personal thank you card afterward.
- Make a habit of reminding people of your chat within a 24-hour window before it happens. Just because it’s important to you doesn’t mean it’s important to them, and reminders help boost your attendance. I’m still testing this to see if it is helpful or annoying, but so far, people seem to appreciate it.
- Don’t just have a chat – announce a specific topic for each chat. When you promote your event with the topic, a relevant hashtag and tag your guest, if you have one, you’ll reach a fresh audience. It’s essential to growth.
I’d like to give an extra big hat tip to Gerard Corbett (@gerardcorbett). A past chair of PRSA, fellow consultant and PR job coach blogger, and an extremely smart guy, he’s been to almost every single chat, when most other chat participants rotate in and out. I appreciate him very much.
Should you launch a Twitter chat of your own?
This truly depends on your own goal and resources. I happen to think it is an utterly fantastic way to reach a targeted audience and build your tribe, but it takes commitment and consistency. It isn’t for everyone.
It is fantastic for engagement and brand awareness, but very, very challenging for conversion.
My chat does not boost email subscribers or website traffic, which is my own fault and conversion issue, no doubt. But it does grow my Twitter followers and drives conversations with amazing influencers–influencers that I never would have had the courage to reach out to otherwise. It’s helped me grow my own influence quite a bit as a speaking platform, it’s landed mentions and backlinks in other people’s blog posts, and it generates a nice volume of retweets and shares.
I’m sure it could do more if I had more time to devote to it, and if I focused on monetizing the chat through sponsors, but I do what I can. The reach it generates makes it the most valuable marketing tool I have, second only to my blog.
How successful a Twitter chat can be for you depends on the resources invested, and where your audience hangs out.
What’s YOUR most valuable PR asset?