Erika Heald

Eleven Ways to Rock Your Twitter Chat Guest Slot

By: Erika Heald | December 29, 2016 | 
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Eleven Ways to Rock Your Twitter Chat Guest SlotDuring the past year, I’ve invited dozens of communications pros to share their expertise with the #ContentChat community.

Although some of my guests are social media pros plucked from the community itself, I often invite authors of blog posts I’ve enjoyed, or speakers I’ve heard present at an event, to spend an hour in our fast-paced Twitter chat.

With dozens of participants and hundreds of tweets during the course of the hour, it’s a lot to take in.

That’s why I’ve compiled my recommendations for how to get the most out of your Twitter Chat guest slot.

Attend the Twitter Chat as a Participant

When the questions are all being directed at you, it can be hard to stop and soak in how the chat flows overall.

Attend the chat a week or two before yours is scheduled.

It will help you get a feel for the pace, and how the conversation flows.

Is it a chatty group? Are folks sharing GIFs and memes? Or does it have a more serious, educational, classroom-setting type tone?

Review Chat Recaps

Look for recent storify Twitter archives of recent chats, or Twitter Chat recap blog posts posted by the chat host or recent guests.

This is especially helpful for seeing if there is any potential overlap between your topic and recent guests’ topics.

This way you can explore a different aspect.

Prepare Your Answers in Advance

Your Twitter Chat host should send you the questions in advance.

Use this to your advantage by preparing some possible answers and keeping them close by during the chat.

This ensures you don’t forget key points and helps you get comfortable with your 140 character limit.

It also gives you more time to respond to the conversation which participants are engaging in during the chat.

Due to the organic nature of conversation, you may need to slightly revise some answers to reflect the conversation that’s come before it.

Don’t Forget Your Answer Format

Always start off your answers with A1, A2, A3 corresponding to the question number.

This helps your fellow chat participants, and the host, track the conversation and be clear as to what question you are responding to.

Also, don’t forget to use the Twitter hashtag on all replies, including those you make directly to a specific chat participant.

Otherwise, the chat participants and host can’t always see them.

It’s Okay to Go Long

You may only have 140 characters per tweet, but you are not limited to one tweet of an answer per question.

I suggest you use A1, A1b, A1c, and so on, for a multi-part answer.

Use Images Where Appropriate

If there’s an illustration, or a chart that supports and enhances your answer, include it.

Use the accompanying tweet to provide additional context for the image, and to encourage those using chat apps and not seeing your image automatically, to click on it to view.

Provide Links to Relevant Content

Even with a series of tweets, there are some things that are difficult to fully explain in a Twitter chat.

As long as the host allows it, give a concise answer in your tweets, and provide a link for those looking to delve into the topic further.

Don’t Be Blatantly Self-Promotional

Yes, the participants know you have some sort of vested interest in being a guest for the chat.

But if you talk too much about your company, or link to demo request forms or other blatantly sales-focused/promotional content, your audience is likely to tune out, or worse yet, call you a spammer.

Be Conversational

Although you prepared comments to share, keep an eye on the chat stream.

Comment on participant answers, and answer questions which come up during the course of the conversation.

If it’s something you aren’t prepared to answer in the moment, tell the chatter you’ll get back to them, and follow-up with your answer after the chat.

Be Present

Treat your Twitter chat hour as you would a video conference.

Don’t try to multitask.

And definitely don’t try to pre-schedule posting your replies!

Your chat participants will notice, and won’t take kindly to that sort of automation.

Invite Your Cheering Section

It can feel intimidating to walk into a new Twitter chat community alone.

Luckily, you don’t have to!

Invite members of your network to join the conversation.

You’ll feel more comfortable seeing familiar avatars, and you’ll have built-in support for getting the conversation started on the right foot.

While some Twitter chat pros are experts at winging it, most of us can benefit from following these preparation tips.

What would you add to my list?

Want to share your communications expertise with the #ContentChat community? Let us know in the comments.

About Erika Heald


Erika Heald is a San Francisco-based marketing consultant. She focuses on helping technology and specialty food start-ups define their content marketing strategy to drive lead generation and customer loyalty. You can find her on her blog erikaheald.com, or hosting the weekly #ContentChat Twitter chat.

  • paulakiger

    These are fantastic tips, Erika! I love Twitter chats and they definitely build community beyond the hour of the chat. It’ s mentioned in the Buffer article you linked to, but it definitely helps to use a tool that adds the hashtag automatically so you don’t have to remember to use it every time. I also try to keep a separate stream open (on my phone, maybe, or on the other laptop or another tab) with the thread of JUST THE HOST so I don’t have to go scrolling through a bazillion tweets to see the question when it is asked. // And I would definitely make note of people with whom you feel like you have a connection during the chat in order to expand the relationship afterwards (or see if there is grounds for expanding….).

    • I loved using Nurph, and haven’t yet found another twitter chat client I love. If you hear of any new ones, let me know, Paula!

      • paulakiger

        I used to use Tweetchat, but then it was out of commission for a while and I started using tchat.io, which is what I still use. I know some people use a custom column in Tweetdeck but I’ve never loved doing that.

        • Sue Duris

          I started with Twubs, then went to Tweetchat, then went to tchat.io when Tweetchat and Twubs were having tech difficulties. I alternate between all 3 these days.

          • Given your + Paula’s mention, I’ll try out tchat.io—thanks!

  • Sue Duris

    Good points. I remember the first chat I was a guest on – participating in the chat prior – to know the flow and voice of the chat – and prepping my questions in advance helped me immensely. It gave me more time to be truly present and to really listen and engage. I would add that the guest has another role and that is to help the host – promote the chat before it happens, and help with the flow of the conversation during and after the chat. Be available after the chat to answer any questions.The best chat guests do this.

  • How many times can I like this blog post? Such great advice here. 🙂 I’d emphasize the “Be conversational” tip. You’re not there to be interviewed by the host. This is a CHAT and there are other participants. So make sure you’re engaging with them, because they want to engage with you!

    • YES!!! The best twitter chats are the ones where there is organic, spontaneous conversational offshoots happening. That’s how you connect with people, and get to know them (which is a big part of what makes twitter awesome.)

  • This is the Twitter chat guide anyone needs. Thank you, Erika!

    • My pleasure, Corina! It’s abut time I put all those tidbits I share w/guests into a proper article. 😉

  • Erika, this is such a great post! All chat guests should read this first.

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