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Event experience | 31 August 2016

How Organizers Can Use Twitter Chats To Build Communities

David Epstein

A survey of the most successful B2B events in recent memory will reveal one common strategy implemented across most if not all of them. From Dreamforce, and Inbound to TechCrunch Disrupt and Le Web, these major business events all feature some sort of online community that helps to extend the lifecycle of an event and add value to attendees.

Why do you think that is?

It’s probably because organizers of these events understand that in order to provide attendees with a uniquely valuable experience they must blend the online and the off-line. Since networking is a major part of why people attend events, it’s only rational for planners to build some sort of digital networking experience.

Some organizers, in conjunction with their marketing departments decided to build robust online forums, Dreamforce and Inbound our examples of this approach. While others, like TechCrunch Disrupt and Le Web opted for less formal, but none-the-less effective online means of bringing attendees together.

One method of online community building that most organizers haven’t thought of is Twitter chats. As mentioned in a recent on-demand webinar that can be view here, Twitter chats can be a painless way for event planners to engage attendees online. This article will walk readers through what they need to know to begin hosting Twitter chats as a way of providing event attendees with a fun networking experience, while also extending the reach of an event brand to influencers and potential attendees.

Twitter Chat Benefits

Before we dive into how you can implement a Twitter chat, here are a few reasons why creating a community online with Twitter can be better than using other more traditional community building tools like online forums, or Facebook Groups (though those tools are great too).

Low Maintenance

Twitter chats are a great option for event organizers who are hesitant to commit to building a year-round online networking community. After all, building something like an online forum will require a lot of monitoring, and facilitating to keep members engaged. Twitter chats on the other hand are a bit more ethereal, they happen at a set time each week or month and those interested can drop in, lend their two cents and leave at their convenience.

Since Twitter chats don’t require anyone to join a designated online community, they are lower maintenance than other options.

Broad Reach

Usually online event communities have limited reach, since member discussions take place inside a Group. Twitter chat conversations are broadcast to all of Twitter, which means that tweets can be easily discovered by those following participants in the chat.

If you are able to get an event influencer, like a well-known speaker or other stakeholder to take part in a Twitter chat, you will likely be able to reach many of their dedicated followers as well. In short, Twitter chats can help you build brand awareness better than other digital community building efforts that are walled off in a private or at least hard to find, networking groups.

Centralized Community

Rather than having to create a whole new event community on a platform like LinkedIn or Facebook, Twitter chats allow event organizers to use their existing event Twitter profile (which hopefully already exists) to communicate with event goers. Having a centralized community means that organizers will be able to grow their Twitter followers, while also adding value to event goers, which is a win-win.

Twitter Chat Basics

A Twitter chat is a question and answer sessions that aims to benefit from the collective knowledge of everyone who is in attendance. Usually a designated person will the lead the chat by asking everyone in attendance a question following a similar format to what you see below.

Q1: In your experience, what qualities make for a good manager? #eventchat

Note the format in the above example. The first part of the the tweet is “Q1” this signifies to those following the chat that it is the first questions asked in the discussion.

Next, the actual question is asked. The type of question the leader of the Twitter chat asks will vary depending on the audience being targeted.

Last, the tweet is capped with the Twitter chat hashtag, which in this case is “#eventchat”.

Those following the Twitter chat will usually reply to a question like the one above as follows:

A1: In my experience the best managers are great listeners who are also comfortable being open and honest with colleagues. #eventchat

In the example below, we chose to look at a Twitter chat hosted by the social media platform, Buffer. 

Note that in the example above, the social media experts at Buffer not only tweeted their Twitter chat question, they also designed a good looking social media visual to better engage their audience.


Following the question, a bunch of audience members started replying (see above), the team at Buffer replied to each answer – which is a great way to encourage audience engagement.

Tips For Growing A Twitter Chat Community

The hardest part of building any online networking community is getting started, once you begin, there are a few things you can do to speed up the growth of a Twitter chat community.

Make Sure Registrants Know About It

Be sure to encourage existing event registrants to participate in your Twitter chats. You can encourage participation by emailing registrants and creating a calendar invite for them with directions on on to get involved in the Twitter chat.

If you’re organizing a series of related events, you can also mention past Twitter chats during various discussion sessions as a way of encouraging attendees to get involved in the future, while also bringing some of the valuable content discussed online to life during your event.

Loop In Influencers

It might be a good idea to ask attendees to share their Twitter handles with you, that way you can use a free or inexpensive Twitter analytics tool to see if anyone in attendance is a Twitter influencer.

If you find a few influencers invite them to moderate a Twitter chat with you after you share your social media guidelines with them of course. Then ask those influencers to promote the chat to their audience, you can create a good looking promotional image to accompany their tweets. Most likely the influencers you talk to will be more than happy to help, since being involved in discussions like the Twitter chat in question signal to their audience that they are in fact industry experts.

Invest In Paid Twitter Ads

A few smartly targeted Twitter ads can be an inexpensive and effective way to grow a Twitter chat, and to also raise awareness of an upcoming event. Consider using promoted tweets to announce an upcoming Twitter chat, and design a social media visual that prominently features the time the chat is taking place and the hashtag that is being used.

Next Steps

Getting started with Twitter chats is fairly straightforward, you need to pick a time and hashtag and have pre-written discussion questions that you’ll ask attendees using the format outlined above.

Then you should think of ways that you can promote and grow your Twitter chats in order to build a thriving online community that adds value to attendees and helps you raise brand awareness among potential attendees. You can email existing attendees, loop in influencers or invest in paid ads to grow the community.

For other methods you can use to build a thriving online event community, watch our on-demand webinar on digital community building hosted in partnership with the Senior Community Manager at Social Tables.

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