I’ve participated in a number of Tweet chats. They’re a great way to gain followers, establish your authority, and both interact with and learn from others.

Tweet chats are quite popular, and if you plan on being a Twitter power user and leveraging it to become a recognized influencer, you need to jump in and get involved. If you don’t find yourself being invited to participate in the Tweet chats of other users — yet — start your own.

If you’ve been wondering how to start a Tweet chat, here’s what you need to know to get going:

1. Create a hashtag

Every Tweet chat needs its own, unique, hashtag that participants can use to follow and join the conversation.

Be mindful of Twitter’s 140-character limit when choosing your hashtag. Your hashtag should be short (under 10 characters), and provide some connection to your business or the topic being discussed.

Also be sure to check that the hashtag isn’t already being used. You can search for the hashtag on Twitter (search.twitter.com).

2. Schedule your chat

It’s best if you establish a regular Tweet chat schedule so people catch on. For some that may be once a month; for others it may be every week.

Choose a day, time, and frequency that works for you and your target audience.

You can use any of these free resources to check for possible scheduling conflicts:

  • Tweetreports has a twitter chat schedule (and can also schedule your chat).
  • Twubs has a list (can also schedule your chat).
  • Calendar where you can view by topic/category.
  • Chatsalad lists chats that are about to start or are in the near future.

3. Promote your chat

Leverage the channels you already have available — like your website, blog, email list, or other social networks — to promote your chat.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Create a static web page: Include the date, time, hashtag to use, and a subject for the chat. If it is a reoccurring chat, let people know and then regularly update the information to reflect what will be discussed each week. You can host this page on your website or blog, or use an event registration tool to let people RSVP in advance.
  • Create promotional assets: Graphics, videos, and other visual assets are great for branding your chat and promoting it through different channels.
  • Tap into your network: Schedule guests/co-hosts who have significant Twitter followers. That allows you to leverage their promotional powers.

4. Recap and follow up

Twitter chats are a great way to build your audience and make new connections for your business or organizations. They can also be a valuable source of new content ideas for your blog, emails, or social media posts.

After your chat is over, be sure to:

  • Recap your chat on your blog: Summarize your Tweet chat on your blog. (They can give you a lot of ideas and direction for your blog posts and other social media.)
  • Ask for feedback: Get participants’ input on the Tweet chat and future topics for chats. You can reach out to participants directly on social media or send a survey to email subscribers who attended the chat.
  • Identify your influencers: Analyze your sessions to find the most influential participants. Here’s a Twitter archiving Google sheet. It would be great to know if someone who participated in your chat had 100k followers, for example.

Get ready for your first Twitter chat!

Various Twitter clients can be used to participate in a Tweet chat. Streams or columns can be added to Hootsuite and Tweetdeck to follow the hashtag. Tweetchat.com makes it very easy to follow and participate in a Tweet chat session.

To keep Tweet chats moving, you need to give your guests a list of questions that you will discuss. Without some advance notice, it can be very hard to compose responses within the 140-character length that Twitter requires.

Do you have any recommendations to help people stage or participate successfully in a Tweet chat? Share them below!

About the Author: Susan Solovic is THE Small Business Expert. Sign up for Susan’s Success Tips Newsletter and get your free copy of “Smart Marketing Strategies for Small Biz” ebook.