How to Increase Your Thought Leadership with Twitter Chats

What have you done so far to build your thought leadership? Regardless of your industry and despite your experience or position, you can be a thought leader. It’s all about how you participate in industry activity and contribute to its knowledge base.

Twitter chats for thought leadership

Some of the best ways to grow your influence is to produce content that people seek out and to be on social media for relationship building. Creating content of value will show that you’re knowledgeable of industry trends. Using social media for relationship building will help you grow your following.

A lesser known tactic for developing thought leadership is through Twitter chats. This article gives you a thorough look inside the benefits, tactics, and best practices of Twitter chats. It gives you everything you need to get started and making the most out of it for the best results.

First, what are Twitter Chats?

So, you’re interested in building your thought leadership through Twitter chats, but do you know exactly what they are? Let’s dive into a proper description so that you know what to expect.

A Twitter chat is a group conversation hosted in real-time on Twitter about a pre-determined topic. Participants follow along using a set hashtag (#hashtag), and there is usually a regular host account that moderates with questions related to the assigned topic. Some chats are held weekly while others are monthly, but they always fall on the same day of the week or month for consistency. Chats are usually one hour long.

Now that you know what Twitter chats are and what’s involved, it’s time to discover just how it can benefit your quest for thought leadership.

How Do Twitter Chats Help Build Thought Leadership?

When you actively participate in Twitter chats, you show everyone that there’s a human being with interests and experience behind your handle. You’re not an automated robot.

As a result of your engagement, you increase your Twitter following count. These followers are more likely to interact with you and your content because of your presence during the chats. You’ll be trusted, and people will look to you for advice.

When people trust you, they’re more likely to click on your tweet links and visit your website. If you send them to your blog, you’ll show them your own expertise on a given subject. People will want to subscribe to your blog if you’ve optimized your site for that. It’s a clear indicator that people consider you a thought leader.

When we break this down by participant versus host, these are some clear ways you can develop thought leadership through Twitter chats:

Participants

Participants can use these chats as a networking opportunity. You can communicate directly with other participants via replies and retweets. Giving people that 1-to-1 engagement will help you reach people on a more personal level. They’ll be more likely to pay attention to you because they’ll see your interactions in their notifications. When you reach more people this way, you have a higher, better chance of getting your voice heard amidst the crowd of participants. People will want to hear more from you if your contributions to the discussion are personal and of high value.

Hosts

When you want to host a Twitter chat, remember that it takes time to build an audience. Your chat is an opportunity to build a community of people and brands. You show you have the expertise and authority to control the discussion. As the moderator, you start by bringing in guests with expertise on a given subject. The more you do this, the larger the audience you’ll have. It’s all about relationship building, and it’s key that you interact and participate in the chat as much as possible. The more expertise you share during the chats, the more people will consider you a thought leader to rely on.

Where Do I Find Twitter Chats to Join?

It can be hard to find the right Twitter chats for your needs because there are so many out there. The other issue is finding ones that are as active as they used to be.

You can dig through thorough lists, such as this one from Tweet Reports, to find one that fits with your industry. However, lists like that are often outdated, so you’ll find chats there that no longer exist. There will also be newer chats that aren’t included on the list. The point is to take these lists as a starting point but not rely completely on them.

Sometimes, you can find more targeted lists of Twitter chats per industry, such as this marketing-based one by TrackMaven. These are often up-to-date for a time, but they are not always updated as chats change. Use resources that say they’ll be updated or stick with ones that were created recently.

Another way to find Twitter chats is simply to ask. Word of mouth is a great way to find Twitter chats that are both active and popular. On Twitter, for example, send out a tweet to an industry influencer to get your tweet seen by both them and their audience. This will broaden the scope of your tweet responses, giving you more to work with. This approach is suitable for individuals seeking to build thought leadership through Twitter chats, but a business might not want their audience to see a tweet like that coming from their account.

With these approaches, you’ll have the chance to find Twitter chats that work for your brand. When you’re looking at your options, keep these in mind:

  • Shadow the Twitter chats first to see if they’re active enough to provide benefits
  • Don’t assume you have to participate in just one or more than that. It just depends on what your options are and how much time you have to dedicate to them.

How Do I Participate In a Twitter Chat? The Tools

You’re ready to start participating in Twitter chats? That’s great, and the next step is simple enough:

You need to find a tool that’ll allow you to easily follow and participate in each chat.

The two best options you have are:

Tweetchat

Tchat.io

These two tools allow you to follow the conversation based on the assigned hashtag. It eliminates the rest of Twitter and just shows the Twitter chat feed. The tools let you participate by automatically adding the chat’s hashtag to your tweets. Use these tools to better follow and contribute to the conversation.

How Do I Participate In a Twitter Chat? Best Practices

Twitter chats move fast. It can be daunting to a new participant as you see all the tweets flooding the feed. One of the biggest mistakes newbies make is trying to read every tweet. This is impractical.

The focus should be on the host and special guest first, reading their contributions and responding accordingly. Then, take time to scan other users’ tweets to see how you can engage with them. Research which participants will benefit you the most by checking their profile. Could they benefit from your thought leadership? Could they help you build your audience and influence?

When you’re active in a Twitter chat, you have to follow these best practices in order to see better results. These tips will help you participate effectively and also achieve the thought leadership you seek:

  • To get more engagement with your contributions, make sure the answers you tweet have the question number included: Q1 will be A1, Q2 will be A2, and so on.
  • Don’t use Twitter chats to heavily promote yourself. Only include your content links if they provide value to the conversation.
  • Take time to reply to and retweet other participants’ tweets when you can. Secondary engagement in Twitter chats can sometimes be even more beneficial than your answer tweets.
  • Include visuals and GIFs with your tweets to see more engagement. The more engagement you get, the higher your impressions will be.
  • Ask your own questions when engaging one-on-one with other participants, and offer to continue the conversation after the chat.
  • Find participants you can engage with in-between chats to build a connection for mutual benefit.
  • Never forget the chat’s hashtag! You must include it for your tweet to be seen by other participants.
  • If the chat host offers the questions in advance, take time to create your answers beforehand. This will give you more time to engage one-on-one with others.
  • Warn your followers that you’ll be participating in a Twitter chat so that they’re prepared for your tweet burst. This will minimize the loss of followers.

Use these best practices to make your participation more effective. If you go against any of them, you risk missing out on opportunities.

How Do I Host a Twitter Chat?

Say you’ve participated in Twitter chats and now want to host your own. How do you get started, and what can you do to make the most of it?

Content Marketing Institute has a handy article that offers resources for new Twitter chat hosts, which I highly recommend for you. In the article, they explain how they use templates to organize their chats, and the author provides these templates for you to download.

To start this process of hosting a Twitter chat, you need to do thorough research on the following:

  • What hashtag to use
  • The time and frequency
  • The overall theme
  • How you’ll promote it
  • Who you can bring in as influencers / special guests

Once you’re ready to take this to a per-chat level, you should keep these tips in mind:

  • Research specific topics you can create questions for that will attract the right people.
  • Create at least 5-8 questions per chat so that you can fill the entire hour with participation.
  • Don’t just send out the questions and ignore everyone – engage by retweeting good answers and replying to participants. Best practice is to engage with as many users as possible, not just your influencer guest.
  • Have a good icebreaker to tweet out at the beginning of the chat to get people talking.
  • Create image versions of your questions, and possibly create a recap image, such as what SEMrush does in #semrushchat. People will appreciate it when you include their answers in your recap tweets.
  • Create a recap of your chats afterwards for your blog or to share separately on Twitter. Tag the users you included in the recap to let them know. People will appreciate seeing their tweets included. One way to create a recap is in Twitter itself – create a Twitter Moment.
  • Don’t forget to measure the engagement metrics from your chats to see what worked and what needs improvement.

That concludes this guide for using Twitter chats for thought leadership development. Are you ready to participate and / or host a chat? You now have what you need, so get moving.

Whether you have a question or your own advice, I welcome you to leave a comment here with your input. Or, you can contact me privately to discuss Twitter chats for your brand.

Further reading:

Buffer’s introductory article on Twitter chats

Sprout Social’s all-in-one article about Twitter chats