Twitter chatsWhether you’re a participant or host, Twitter chats have plenty to offer your business.

As a participant, Twitter chats give you the chance to network by engaging in both one-on-one and group discussions, while helping expand your knowledge on the topics that are relevant to your industry.

As a new business especially, these benefits cannot be underestimated, given that both your network and industry knowledge might still be fairly undeveloped.

For more established firms, participating in a Twitter chat might encourage you to do something differently; a practice that has long stayed the same because it’s the only way you know how.

Again, there is also the opportunity to grow your network – you can never know too many people in business – one of which might prove to be a crucial door-opener.

To host or not to host?

Hosting is a whole other ball game. You should only really think about hosting once you’ve participated in a good few Twitter chats. Then you’ll be au fait with the format, how they work, how to generate a bit of interest, the types of interactions to expect, that sort of thing.

Once you feel like you’re up to speed with how Twitter chats work, it could well be worth your while hosting your own. That is, you come up with the topic and set the questions, invite the relevant guests and influencers to participate, and come up with the chat hashtag.

You might even want to team with influencers to increase reach, as Buffer have done here:

Every chat needs its own hashtag – one that is unique, clear and simple. Ideally, it has some relevance to your brand, but remember Twitter chats aren’t meant to be about you.

So, when coming up with the topics and questions – five to eight questions is about right – don’t get bogged down in trying to tally them with what it is your business does.

Instead, focus on your industry and try to spark a conversation that is original, but isn’t too niche, otherwise participants might be few and far between.

If you can, try and make the chat fun – making the conversation enjoyable for participants will go a long way to garnering the high levels of interaction you had in mind.

Then it just comes down to scheduling your chat, bearing in mind your audience and the different time zones.

One final tip: once the event has finished, why not do a round-up of the best comments? It makes for a fascinating and engaging piece of content – especially if you turn it into a video, as Social Media London have done here: