When you join a Twitter chat for the first time, it's a little like walking into a high school lunchroom all over again.
Some people are regulars to these chats, they have accounts that are instantly welcomed by participants, their tweets ballooning in retweeted and liked popularity. Other users pop in and out throughout the chat - they may not be there the entire time, but they have the natural ability to say exactly what resonates with everyone else (and answers the chat's question) in 140 characters or less. And still others are here for the memes and GIFs - the users that give their tweets a funny bone.
Where does your business sit in this lineup?
The good news is that whether you're new to Twitter chats or a longtime regular shyly tweeting from the sidelines, there are plenty of ways that you can draw attention to yourself during a chat and engage with others in a lasting way.
Follow these tips to get yourself and your business noticed, and make Twitter chats an hour each week to anticipate.
1. Follow the rules
Twitter chats typically follow the same format for participants - each chat has a specific amount of questions asked and each one is numbered accordingly, i.e. Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. A chat-specific hashtag is also included with each question.
Everyone participating needs to number their answer to the question (i.e. A1, if you're answering Q1 and so forth) so other users know which question they're responding to, while they also need to include the hashtag when replying so that they can track their responses and the replies of other users.
Some Twitter chats may have a few other expectations for joining in, but this is the etiquette standard across the board. If you want to get your business noticed, follow the rules first.
2. Less is more
Don't create a thread of replies when responding to a question or an answer that's too roundabout or clunky - sound bite everything you tweet.
Keep it simple, to the point, and have fun with your answer too.
If other users have questions about what you said, they'll ask them - and you can respond and get a separate conversation within the chat going together.
3. Visuals are everything
Research shows that tweets with images generate 150% more retweets than those without. Don't be afraid to flex your visual muscle during a chat with a relevant picture, emoji, or a GIF image to express your emotions.
If you're doing this from a business account, make sure that the GIF is suitable for your company - high quality (avoid grainy images when possible), and relatable to the topic or question being asked.
4. Track your hashtags
Now that you know how to compose a solid reply, you can relax and let everyone come to you, right? Not quite.
5. Chat with other users as much as you do the hosts
Your main priority during a Twitter chat should be to answer the questions from the hosts in a timely manner - but make it a point to @ mention other users too.
Consider the chat to be like networking - some of these users might not be at the next one, so take the time to mingle with other like-minded participants and strike up a conversation together.
6. Become a regular
Make it a point to consistently participate in these chats on a regular basis. If they're held every Wednesday at 11 AM PST, block off your calendar for that amount of time. Try to be present at the chat throughout its entire duration too.
Sometimes the topic won't be something your business specializes in, and it's okay to skip out when that happens. But if it is something you feel confident responding to, knowing your area of expertise, stay for the whole hour and enjoy the conversation.
7. Join in on several chats
Who said you have to stop at one? If there's more than one chat being held on a topic that your business specializes in, hop in as many as your schedule allows.
Pretty soon, your presence at these chats will be less focused on being a well-liked regular. Instead, you'll be here to make new connections, learn more, and grow - everything that a business should be doing in the social media space.