“Thought leadership” might be the most popular buzzword of the day, but the idea behind it is anything but meaningless jargon.
Popular terminology becomes cliche for a reason. Everyone is talking about thought leadership because it really works.
Picture this: You’re the recognized authority in your field. Bloggers and social media influencers in your industry scramble to be the first to share your insights. The media reaches out to you for your opinions and expertise. When your prospective clients think about your industry, your brand name is the first that pops into their heads.
That’s much more powerful than just marketing jargon or buzzwords.
So how do you attain this coveted “thought leadership” status?
Becoming a recognized authority for your entire industry is a tall order, but social media makes it easy to reach a wide audience around the world. One of the most effective methods of building thought leadership is to create, curate, and share content, and that’s just what social media networks were created for.
Here’s how you can get started by using Twitter chats.
Why Twitter Chats?
If you’re already marketing your business on Twitter, you’ve seen how that can benefit you by building awareness and the reputation of your brand on that social media platform.
The problem is, as you’ve probably noticed, most brand marketing on Twitter tends to remain siloed and isolated.
According to a report by the Pew Research Center, there are 6 main types of conversations that take place on Twitter. The conversations surrounding brands was identified as Type 3, Fragmented. Most brands communicate in clusters, which the research described as generating “interest, but little connectivity.” While you may be interacting with your own dedicated followers who seek you out, you’re not reaching an audience much broader than that.
But with Twitter chats, you can tap into a broader, more unified conversation, connecting those fragmented conversations across your industry.
Think of Twitter chats like a virtual version of an industry conference. Like conferences, chats attract participants who are not just interested in your brand, but a wider audience of those interested in the topics of discussion. This type of conference-like conversation was classified in Pew’s report as Type 2: Unified, “where participants strongly connect to one another for information, ideas, and opinions.”
By tapping into the power of Twitter chats, you can broaden your reach from your isolated brand following, to a larger community across your entire industry.
Participants in Twitter chats can reap benefits like increasing their targeted follower count, getting clicks back to their website, and showing off their expertise on a topic. But leading a chat yourself is the best tactic on Twitter of all. By leading a Twitter chat, you become known as the connector, the organizer, and the expert and authority on the topic.
Twitter chats also come with a multitude of other benefits such as:
- Making new connections with influencers
- Getting to know your community
- Sparking blog post ideas
- Gaining new customers and leads
- Learning new things and keeping up with industry news
Convinced? Here’s how you can get started.
Plan Your Twitter Chat
Before jumping in, a little planning will ensure that your chats are effective and meet your goals.
First, you’ll want to choose a unifying theme or broad topic for your Twitter chats. You’ll need to choose something narrow enough to target your intended audience, but broad enough that you’ll easily be able to come up with plenty of topics to chat about.
As you brainstorm themes, keep in mind you’ll need to come up with a unique hashtag for your Twitter chats. Your hashtag should be short so it doesn’t use up too much of Twitter’s 140 character limit. Consider using acronyms, your brand name, or just the theme of your chats.
Check out these examples of Twitter chats by industry leaders:
#CMWorld is a weekly chat by the Content Marketing Institute that discusses the latest trends in content marketing. Here’s what they’re doing right:
- They rotate guest moderators every week, which keeps widening the chat’s reach to a new audience with every new moderator.
- On their #CMWorld website page, they also invite visitors to submit ideas for speakers and topics for future chats, which helps them to connect with their audience and stay on top of the topics their audience really wants to chat about.
- They keep an archive of past Twitter chats including transcripts of all questions and answers. This is a great way to interest potential participants.
#TChat by TalentCulture discusses HR, talent acquisition, and career management:
- #TChat is a weekly radio show that uses Twitter to connect with and expand their audience during the show. Do you hold any regular events that you could combine a Twitter chat with to expand their reach?
- Their website page about #TChat is written in an inviting way, not just giving the date and time of the chats, but also discussing the benefits of participating.
- #TChat also maintains a blog archive of past chats — a great example of effectively repurposing content.
#BufferChat by Buffer discusses effective social media marketing:
- Buffer sums up each #BufferChat on their main blog, and they include embedded Tweets from participants, which is a nice way of rewarding their audience for taking part while also repurposing content.
- Buffer creates beautiful images optimized for Twitter that include the details of each chat (topic, date, time, and moderator) — they know that images are a proven way to get more engagement on Twitter.
Once you’ve decided on your theme and hashtag, you’ll also have to decide on your chat frequency. Many Twitter chats happen every week, every other week, or once a month (On a fast-paced network like Twitter, any more infrequently and your participants may forget all about you). Consider what schedule you can stick with consistently with the resources you have available.
Next, you’ll want to plan an editorial calendar in order to stay prepared and organized. Choose your topics for the next couple of months, or the rest of the year, and prepare several questions for each chat topic.
Your topic questions should be open-ended in order to encourage discussion, rather than yes-or-no questions.
For example, instead of asking:
- Is thought leadership important? (This yes-or-no question doesn’t promote discussion.)
- Who exemplifies thought leadership?
- What do you believe thought leadership truly means?
- Why is thought leadership important?
- How do you measure thought leadership?
Publicize Your Chat
Now that your chats are all planned out, you need the world to know about them!
Of course you’ll want to share your scheduled chats on Twitter, but you can also:
- Mention it in your Twitter bio, using your chat hashtag.
- Add it to popular lists and directories of Twitter chats, including
- Announce it on your other social media accounts (Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.).
- Invite influencers in your industry to attend, via Twitter or personalized email.
Tips & Tricks for a Successful Chat
Before your first chat, ask yourself: Is your Twitter profile optimized? If not, that would be like holding a store’s grand opening before you’ve set up the signage.
Be sure to check out our 10 Essential Rules For Effective Twitter Marketing In 2015, plus How To Get Better Twitter Engagement in 2015, to polish up on the basics before your chat. Make sure you have a good header and profile image, that your bio is optimized, and brush up on your basic Twitter etiquette.
Once your profile is ready, try participating in a few Twitter chats to get the hang of how they work.
To more easily follow along with the fast pace of Twitter chats, try using a tool like Tweetchat or Twubs.
After your first chat ends, your work isn’t over: Be sure to take advantage of opportunities to deepen the connections you made and further your efforts to become a leader in your industry.
- Reaching out to participants and inviting them to be interviewed for your blog, expanding on the thoughts they shared during the chat.
- Inviting active participants to moderate a future chat.
- Creating a roundup blog post of great tweets shared during the chat.
- Brainstorming future blog post topics from ideas brought up during the chat (be sure to credit your sources!)
Share Your Twitter Chat Tips & Tricks
Have you taken the plunge and participated in Twitter chats yet — or do you lead one of your own? If not, what's holding you back? Share your tips below!