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#Twubchat recap: Build Community With a Twitter Chat

An interview with #speakerchat hosts Tracey Ehman and Melanie Strick of Women Speaker Association.

Interested in building your online community? This week on #twubchat, longtime Twitter chat hosts share some of their best advice for businesses or organizations curious about hosting their own weekly chats. Both Tracey Ehman and Melanie Strick serve on the board of the Women Speaker Association, a membership association formed to support, educate and connect professional speakers. They created #speakerchat in February 2012 as a vehicle to connect members and build a collaborative community. As a result, participants have seen business collaborations, radio interviews and speaking engagements as well as growth in the quality of Twitter followers. This weekly online gathering has been running for three years, thanks to their volunteer leadership. Here are their key tips for building community with a Twitter chat:Ehman Strick Build Community w chats

1. Consistency is critical.

Launching a weekly chat gives members of the community a chance to get to know each other and learn from each others’ expertise. One problem is that entrepreneurs will often try something and if it doesn’t produce results immediately, they stop. When community building around a Twitter chat, Strick encourages new hosts to give it time to work. TIP: Use a team approach in order to sustain the effort. A cohost shares the burden and keeps the weekly grind manageable.

2. Create value each week.

Women’s Speaker Association did their homework prior to launching #speakerchat. They researched what topics their community wanted to master by sending email surveys, asking questions on their membership form and watching for clues on their private Facebook group. After compiling a list of the most-asked questions, they sought out thought leaders to be guests on #speakerchat and address these topics. Members who miss a chat can scroll through the hashtag later and catch up on the valuable content. TIP: Leverage high profile Twitter guests’ audiences to give your chat an instant attendance boost.

3. Prepare for success.

Hosts Ehman and Strick put in hours of preparation before each chat. They’ve created systems for evaluating guests, gathering background information on guests, creating transcripts. One of the best investments of time is spent on preparing guest interviewees. “Write out your answers prior to the chat” Strick encourages interviewees, “then you can copy and paste responses to the pre-released questions.”  Strick adds “a Twitter chat is like a media tour so it has to be professional”. TIP: Encourage your interview guests to prepare answers before your chat rather than winging it.

4. Repurpose your content.

Women’s Speaker Association provides transcripts of past Twitter chats as a membership benefit for premier members. A topic discussed on the weekly chat may not be relevant to a participant’s business at that moment, but having access to the content later is a true benefit. Transcripts from chats can generate blog posts, email articles and future chat topics. TIP: Wring as much content out of each chat as you can. 

5. Use keywords in your topics.

Ehman is an expert at researching and using keywords to build her community. She suggests tagging chat topics with relevant hashtags of keywords that resonate with her audience. “The more relevant your content” Ehman says, “the more engaged your community will be.”  TIP: Research the best keywords to use in your chat topic titles. Use hashtags to increase discovery.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.Screenshot 2015-12-28 19.28.30

If starting a Twitter chat seems daunting, consider teaming up with someone in your community who has experience. Leverage others’ time and talents so the whole burden is shared. If you’ve added your community members to a private Twitter list, don’t be afraid to reach out via Direct Message and ask for help. TIP: Collaborations form when community has a strong sense of camaraderie. Let others pitch in.

7. Create experiences

An experiment Ehman and Strick tested turned out to be one of their most successful Twitter chat events. Rather than posting questions for an interviewee or their community to answer, they set aside one chat to virtually network. “On #speakerchat we create content” Strick says, “but we also want to create experiences.” The assignment for the chat was simple: pick 3 people you resonated with and connect offline somehow. Members loved networking this way and saw it as a community benefit.

The weekly community of #speakerchat meets every Tuesday at 4pm Pacific Standard Time. You can follow the chat on their Twubs page by clicking on the image of their page. Following along on this page gives participants 3 key benefits:

  • The hashtag is automatically added to their message (so they don’t have to retype it)
  • Tweets can be slowed down so they’re easier to read
  • Host tweets are displayed at the top of the feed so they’re easier to follow

And this extra comment from Strick was a nice endorsement:

“Twubs is by far the best platform we’ve used for hosting our chats. It is easy to use, we can customize how it appears and our audience loves it.” — Melanie Strick

Catch the video below: