The 7 Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Twitter Chats

October 24, 2017

From its hashtags and handles to its links and “likes,” Twitter has emerged as an essential marketing tool for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) to establish brand credibility and engage with target audiences.

Because of Twitter’s 320 million users and an average business-to-consumer (B2C) response time of 5.1 hours, destination brands are able to reach a wide yet targeted audience directly within a matter of seconds, making Twitter a powerful and effective platform if paired with the right digital strategy.

Although most DMOs have a presence on Twitter, few of them know what a Twitter chat is, and even fewer are using them effectively. A Twitter chat, or a reoccurring public Twitter conversation, bound together through one hashtag allows you to follow a themed discussion and engage with users who are interested in the topic of discussion. Twitter chats are a fun and effective way to promote your destination, receive instant feedback from your key audience members and peers, create a community behind your business and establish your DMO as a thought leader within the destination marketing community.

From fast-paced and scripted Twitter chats to more laid-back and leisurely ones, maximizing their impact requires planning and a calculated strategy. These seven do’s and seven don’ts of effective Twitter chats can help even beginner Twitter users take advantage of this powerful digital marketing tactic.

Do’s

1. Be conversational; it’s a two-way engagement.

Although Twitter is a great way to distribute short, easy-to-digest information to a targeted audience, Twitter’s ease of releasing information causes it to be oversaturated with content. When participating in a Twitter chat, maximize your long-term engagement by retweeting, quote tweeting and replying to other chat participants.

2. Use giveaways to boost participation and engagement, and to follow through with the winners.

Money doesn’t just talk; it tweets. When hosting a Twitter chat, including a prize in the giveaway — such as a gift card, theme-park tickets or T-shirt — skyrockets the chat’s popularity and engagement. A small investment for the client or DMO can result in a great amplification of impressions. Make sure to publicly announce the giveaway winners on Twitter, and privately message them to get their information to send them their prize!

3. Create a Twitter list of chat participants to flag as a resource.

Twitter chats are essentially online discussions, which bring together experts on a topic of interest, meaning Twitter chat participants can identify digital influencers, industry thought leaders, competitors and key consumers who offer valuable industry insight. By adding these flagged users to your “Twitter list,” you can create a filtered feed of targeted user-generated content to engage with externally and use as a source of knowledge internally.

4. Always use A# when responding to a Q.

To streamline the content put out during a Twitter chat, most Twitter chats generally follow this format:

Q1: Question here #hashtaghere

A1: Answer here #hashtaghere

This format, seen in the example above, helps participants understand to which question a user is responding and how much the chat has progressed. Traditionally, Twitter chats consist of 10 questions during an hour; thus, to stay engaged in the chat, users must reply to a question within minutes of it being asked.

5. Use hashtags and handles in every tweet.

Twitter users follow a designated hashtag to track a specific chat, meaning if you omit the hashtag, then your tweet won’t be included in the Twitter chat. When engaging one on one with a user in the Twitter chat, you should include the hashtag and the user’s personal Twitter handle, to ensure the tweet is seen and engaged with.

6. Include links to relevant content, when applicable.

Supporting your ideas with relevant and credible content is always an effective strategy for establishing your destination’s digital reputation. Seen an article, blog post, press release or case study that’s relevant to the topic or the question being discussed? Link it in your response! This is also a great opportunity to share your destination’s content without blatantly self-promoting (a big don’t when it comes to Twitter chats!).

7. Use Twitter analytics to measure success.

Twitter analytics tracks engagements, impressions and clicks on relevant links, and allows users to better understand which type of content performs well and falls behind. This feature is included in even the most basic Twitter accounts under the “analytics” tab, making it an essential resource to any Twitter user. For Twitter chat hosts, or participants  a more in-depth look at how the Twitter chat is performing and which content is faring well, third-party apps and extensions, such as Keyhole, RiteTag and Hashtracking, can tell you how many times a hashtag has been seen, used and engaged with — analytics helpful in reporting ROI.

Don’ts

1. Don’t engage in a Twitter chat that doesn’t align with your destination brand and audience.

Since Twitter chats are free to participate in and basically guarantee a boost of engagement to your Twitter profile, participating in a variety of chats to get the most exposure can be tempting. However, to sustain long-term engagement and benefit from the chat, participate in chats only with themes and topics that hit your key messaging.

2. Don’t answer all the questions in real time.

With only an hour to upload tweets, respond to users and flag information of interest, your optimal strategy is to pre-plan your responses as a participant or schedule questions as a host, to ensure the quality of your responses and engagements. Though questions are not released prior to the chat, drafting potential responses and pre-sourcing content prior to the chat save time for the most important part of the chat — engaging with users. Twitter for business offers a scheduling platform to pre-schedule tweets and save drafted content. Hootsuite works for users without a business account on Twitter.

3. Don’t feel the need to answer every question.

With Twitter chats, quality is better than quantity. If a question doesn’t hit your key messaging or pertain to your audience, then feel free to skip it and wait for the next question.

4. Don’t overtly sell your destination.

Twitter chats are not the place to advertise your destination’s tourism partners or travel packages. To curate dialogue that is organic, conversational and effective, establish a presence in the Twitter chat, instead of relying on self-promotion.

5. Don’t tweet without images, gifs and videos!

Adding media to your tweets is a great way to produce eye-catching content that receive more impressions and engagements. Tweets with photos see an average 35 percent boost in engagement; videos a 28 percent increase. Adding images, videos and gifs is easy with Twitter’s drag-and-drop feature and in-service GIF tool.

6. Don’t stop engaging with key participants after the chat ends.

A common mistake of users who host or participate in Twitter chats is failing to engage with participants after the chat ends. Twitter chats should be used as digital networking opportunities that serve as gateways for fostering future discussion and, in turn, increasing long-term engagement on Twitter.

7. Don’t forget to thank the participants and the hosts!

It’s proper Twitter etiquette, and it closes the Twitter chat on a positive note!

Ready to join a travel-themed Twitter chat but don’t know in which Twitter chat to participate? Have any more Twitter chat tips? Send us a tweet at @aboutdci!

Written by Hannah Khan

As a social media maven who loves to travel, Hannah uses her experience with social media and content curation to work on all things digital for DCI's tourism practice. Get in touch with Hannah by sending her an email at hannah.khan@aboutdci.com

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