How To Get Organized In A Tweet Chat

About a month and a half ago, @SteamFeedcom was lucky enough to be featured as a guest on #MediaChat. We knew this could give some great exposure to our site, so when DJ and I were approached by Jason Thompson (@nosaj_jason) and Aaron Kilby (@Kilby76) to do the chat, we didn’t hesitate to jump to the opportunity! Having never been to a Tweet chat, I had to do a bit of research to get ready for it – especially since I was participating as the featured guest in the first Tweet chat I was attending.

DJ knew a lot more than me about Tweet chats, but was away that night, and had to participate in limited capacity – so he wasn’t able to take over the SteamFeed console at that time. It just happened I was gone to an extended job interview at InNetwork Inc, in Toronto, so I was freakin’ busy that week!

On one of the evenings I was there, I ended up going to supper with one of my university friends, David Alexander (@davidaalexander), Digital Marketing Coordinator at Maple Leaf Foods. I mentioned over supper I was a guest on #MediaChat that evening, and told him I had never been in a twitter chat before. He started telling me a story about how Maple Leaf hosted a twitter chat, how much work was involved, and how fast-paced it was. I started freaking out!!! Good thing he wasn’t busy that evening, and helped me out. Here’s what I learned from the experience, in case you’re ever a guest on a Twitter chat:

Understand the Format

The format of #MediaChat seems pretty simple – the host asks a question, and the guest answers. Over the span of an hour, the host asks 8-10 questions, and then opens up the conversation for anyone that has questions at the end. There’s around a 5-6 minute interval between questions. The format of the Q&A is the following:

Host: Q1 The host asks a question to the guest? #hashtag

Guest: A1 The guest answers the host’s question. #hashtag

This seems fairly simple right? Wrong! You constantly have to remember to use the #hashtag in all of your tweets, you have to look out for the questions, you have to answer the questions promptly, all the while engaging with people that have comments about your answer! It can be overwhelming! Thank god there are tools that can help you out!

Use a Few Tweet Chat Tools

First thing I did was open up Twitter itself, and tracked the #hashtag on Twitter. That helped me keep track of how many tweets were being sent out using the #MediaChat hashtag. The second thing I did was setup a #MediaChat stream in Hootsuite, so I could easily track the conversation, and organize mentions at the same time.

Hootsuite Tweet ChatThe last tool, which was the most important one, was a suggestion by David – TweetGrid. TweetGrid lets you organize the Tweet chat in three columns: 1. #hashtag mention, 2. host/guest tweets, and 3. your Twitter handle to track mentions and sent tweets. The most important column is the second one, because it lets you easily follow the Q&A, so you know when a question is asked, and you remember which one you just answered.

TweetGrid also automatically adds the hashtag to all of your tweets, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to add it.

TweetGrid Tweet Chat

Don’t do it Alone

This one is easy – I couldn’t have done it by myself. I want to thank David again for his help during the chat – he was my second set of eyes. The Tweet chat ended up getting close to 200 participants at different points in the hour – it’s virtually impossible to reply to everyone’s comments and keep an eye out for the host’s questions. While I was on Hootsuite answering comments, and replying to mentions, David was keeping an eye out for questions. When the next question would pop up, he would let me know so I could answer promptly, and keep the pace of the chat going.

Get Organized

What I loved about #MediaChat was that Aaron sent me the questions he was going to ask me beforehand, so I could pre-write my answers. When he asked me a question, I was ready to go simply by copy/pasting my pre-typed answer. This made sure I could answer quickly, and didn’t have to waste time typing anything. My focus was on engaging with the participants.

One last thing I would add – leave room in your answer for re-tweets (so roughly 15-17 characters). TweetGrid will show you how many characters you have left in your tweet, and takes into account your #hashtag as well.

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Again, thanks David for helping out with the chat, couldn’t have done it without you. Everyone, make sure to join us in our own SteamFeed chat tonight! – #SMRebelsHelp at 9PM EST. Our host this week will be Robert M. Caruso (@fondalo), with guest Rock Scar Love (@rockscarlove).

Have you ever participated in a Tweet chat? What was your experience like? Please leave a comment below!

Twitter: How to Manage and run Efficiently

Twitter has become a household name thanks to the media and its continued growth.  Twitter surpassed the 500 million user milestone earlier this year, and over 150K new users sign up daily.

While Twitter has become very popular over the last few years, many of the registered users fall off the face of the Earth.  Only about 100 million are active on a monthly basis.  Well 100 million active users is impressive, and there are no signs of Twitter slowing down.  Twitter is only going to get bigger.

If you’re a business and not taking advantage of Twitter you’re likely doing yourself a disservice. Your Twitter account needs to be managed and run efficiently for success.  Twitter gives your customers and prospects another format to communicate with your business.  It also serves as a venue to promote your business.

With a max of 140 characters per Tweet, Twitter would seem like a cinch.  In theory it is a cinch, but there are pieces to manage that make your experience efficient and worthwhile.

Give it time – If you’re new to Twitter or inactive you need to have patience.  If you’re expecting fireworks in a day, week, or month of use you need to change your mind set.  It takes time to build a following and achieve your desired results.  You need to give Twitter six months before making an evaluation of its value.  You will build relationships in this sea of users if you give it time.

Be Active – You must be active.  Tweeting here and there is not going to cut it.  Have a plan where you’re going to be tweeting daily.  At the minimum you should send 8-10 tweets per day.  Any less is just not enough.  If you want to be really active send a tweet out every 20 minutes.  That is good activity without coming off as spammy.

Create Lists and Use them – This is the foundation of an organized Twitter experience especially as your follower count grows.  Twitter allows you to have 20 different lists with a maximum 500 users per list.  As a business you should create a customer list and prospect list right off the bat.  A list allows you to see a group of specified users in one place.  This makes communication with these users more manageable.   You must create lists.

Use Tools – While Twitter recently changed its API rules for third party apps, there are still many out there that will highly increase your efficiency.  Using the Twitter interface alone puts you at a disadvantage.  HootSuite is one of the best free tools on the net.  It takes your lists or any searchable word/phrase and separates them into streams.  HootSuite filters your Twitter account and allows for easy management and analysis.  You can and should schedule tweets through HootSuite.  Sending tweets manually at a certain time can be exhausting and defeating.  Scheduling your tweets in the morning over the course of the day(s) saves you a great deal of time.  Another tool that is suggested is Tweepi.  Tweepi allows you to manage your Twitter with ways to follow and unfollow users based on certain criteria.  As your number of followers becomes greater Tweepi is almost necessary.  Tweepi offers both free and premium service.  Under no circumstances ever buy followers.  You see the ads all the time, “Gain 10K followers for $100” but it is total garbage.  They are not real users and will serve you no purpose.

Avoid one-way Communication – Don’t fall into the habit of just broadcasting. While providing good content is important, you want to communicate with your followers. That’s how relationships are built. Do you have to tweet a “thank you” every time someone mentions you or retweets your tweet? No, but you do want to acknowledge that user by retweeting one of their tweets, mentioning them, and/or adding them to one of your lists. If you add them to a list you’ll be able to see their activity through a stream in Hootsuite that you’ve created. You can then schedule a retweet or mention of one on theirs tweets if it is relevant to your audience. If you’re asked a direct question on Twitter, do everything in your power to reply. If you someone asks you a question in person, do you keep walking or stay silent? Probably not, so it shouldn’t be any different online.

Easy on the Self-Promo Cowboy – Many use a 80/20 rule of thumb with 20% of your tweets promoting your brand, products, and services.  In the Social Media space you’re better off keeping that promotion ratio under 10%.  Self-promoting can be a turnoff to follower real quick, so you really want to be aware of it and space out your tweets accordingly.

How do you manage Twitter effectively and efficiently?

Put A Kink in the Hose With 3rd Party Apps

I’ve recently started to do a clean up of the people I follow on Twitter.

I have been getting rid of the “Fire Hose-ers” – the people that Fire Hose are the ones who will post a whole days worth of Tweets all at once. These are the people who you know the moment they get on Twitter and the moment they get off. Your stream will be barraged with Tweets from them and if you notice, they are all just outgoing posts – not conversation.

Now, I know not everyone is able to spend all day long on Twitter, or any other social media platform for that matter, but there are ways to prevent this invasion of the streams.

These apps will help you to spread out the content you want to post throughout the day. By scheduling (NOT automating) your posts, it will help both you and your community. By spreading your content out, it will not annoy your followers by having a stream full of you, and all of your blitz tweets. This also helps you out by reaching more people at different times of day.

Many of the above listed 3rd party apps will examine your Twitter followers and schedule posts when they will have the most impact. These apps can also help with follower analysis and other analytics as well, like the amount of clicks your tweets receive.

One thing to remember when you are scheduling your posts, is that you can not schedule and walk away. People will be replying, sharing and commenting on those posts. You must be around to reply to them! Check back to your notification stream regularly or set up email notifications to let you know when people are engaging with you. Keep the conversation alive and going!

What’s your advice when it comes to scheduling posts? Please leave a comment below.

Why (and How) to Join Tweetchats

Tweetchats are special gatherings that happen on Twitter.

They’re driven by a hashtag that charactertizes the conversation topic, but more importantly, there’s a community around the hashtag that keeps it very much alive.

Tweetchat Cocktail PartyTweetchats are extremely informative, keep you up to date on current trends, supportive and social. I can’t say enough good things about them. A frequently used metaphor to explain Twitter is how it is like a digital cocktail party, but tweetchats truly bring meaning to this description. People even enjoy pretending they’re passing around drinks or munchies (or disclose what they’ve actually brought to the laptop) as they greet each other. Chats are one hour long events that happen at pre-determined times once a week, but the conversation can carry on by using the same hashtag. Plus, if you decide to join one, you’ll find some have Facebook groups.  Most of them have featured guests every week for the audience to interact with, learn and ask questions. You’ll find many industry experts are a lot of fun and thrilled to join the conversation.

Necessities

Other than a pair of limber hands, Tweetchat.com, and setting up a stream in Hootsuite are my favorite tools and usually the most popular. I especially love tweetchat.com because it’s fast, you can feature or block users, pause, set your pace for refreshing speed and it automatically adds the hashtag at the end of your tweet to ensure it shows up in the stream. Log in with your Twitter account and type the hashtag you’d like to follow in the search box. Important: with any tool you use you want to have visibility of mentions so you can respond (it’s not that hard to miss them in a quick tweetchat)!

If you have to use mobile (or prefer it because you have some amazingly strong and fast thumbs) you want to download the app Echofron (available for Apple products). Hootsuite is available for Apple and Droids and offers the same functionality to filter tweets based on the hashtag.

Hashtracking is a neat analytics tool if you’re a numbers kind of person or needs to deliver them. Features include information on impressions, reach, tweets, the top participants and influencers that were involved with the chat.

How many do I want to attend?

Before you start participating, you might want to “lurk” by following the stream to get an idea. Most first impressions are overwhelmed with the speed (but it becomes manageable)!  How many you should attend a week is your decision. People can go high in double digits while some stick with a couple a week. Chats are either scheduled during the workday or evenings.

Personally, I was addicted once I started. It was an unbelievable way to improve my knowledge, ask questions and make righteous friends I’ve had the honor of meeting in real life (or intend to). I go to Twitter to….hang out! Just like you go to a friend’s house, coffee shop or book club. It does take up a chunk of your time so after many months, I started narrowing it down to a just a few a week. Just one can enrich your online experience. I stay in touch with people or moderators I’ve bonded with out of tweetchats. After all, as Dan told us, we don’t abandon relationships!
 

Which tweetchats do I go to?

Some of the killer social media and marketing tweetchats with amazing, intelligent, kind and welcoming moderators include:

  • #MobileChat – @MarketingMusing & @Redeapp – This is somewhat new, and is growing rapidly. Learn about the trends and future of mobile (Wednesdays 9 PM EST)
  • #MediaChat – @kilby76 – About online media, new apps and anything media related! Full of #bacon lovers. (Thursdays 10 PM EST)
  • #BlogChat – @MackCollier – Tips and strategies to improve personal and corporate blogging. (Sundays 9 PM EST)
  • #AWEtalk – @margieanalise – The Mojo Diva helps women entrepreneurs with their millionarieness mojo, but cool guys are welcome! (Mondays 11 PM EST)
  • #PinChat – @Tribe2point0 – For avid Pinterest users to share information, trends and more. (Fridays 9 PM EST)
  • #LinkedinChat – @LinkedinExpert – All things you want to know on LinkedIn. (Tuesdays 8 PM EST)
  • #Brandchat – Variety of topics related to managing and growing brands – corporate, non-profits, etc. (Wednesdays 11 PM EST)

I could go on and on. Actually, there is this giant Google document floating around with hundreds of chats, names and times but I recommend doing personal research. You can ask your peers for suggestions that fits your interests. Do keyword research on Twitter and see what hashtags appear.  After some listening you will notice some tweets are populated with certain hashtags more than others.

List.ly has an amazing list of resources to help your expedition! Store this link.

What if I can’t find a tweetchat I’m interested in?

Well, well. That is a fine opportunity for you to begin your own! I still strongly encourage you gain experience in tweetchats and establish (or maintain) an active presence on Twitter.  With over 700 chats to date for various industries, causes and groups, there’s likely something for you. But if you can dedicate yourself and bring fresh ideas (and hashtag), it’s a remarkable way to build your community base, promote your brand and business. Check out this great guide to hosting a chat.

You’re going to have a blast. Please feel free to ask us if you want more names for chats for social media and marketing. If you have some you’re fond of then share the details in your comment! 

What’s your favorite tweetchat? 

 

How to set up your Hootsuite dashboard so you’re always listening

For some of you that are new to social media, you might be overwhelmed with all the software and tools that are available to you. Some of you might not even know yet that there are tools to manage your Twitter streams more efficiently! But most importantly, some of you might not know how to set up your tools to make sure they are running at maximum efficiency.

One of my favourite software to use for Twitter is Hootsuite (it can be used for other networks as well, but I’ll be focusing on Twitter in this post). Hootsuite allows you to manage your content in a way that makes sense, and that is easy to follow. If set up properly, you won’t have to worry about sorting through mentions, re-tweets, direct messages, etc. There might also be people talking about you on Twitter, but not mentioning you in that Tweet – you want to be able to follow these conversations as well, and respond to people that are talking about you online.

I’ll show you how I set up my Hootsuite so I’m always aware of who mentions me, who talks about me, and what my Influencers are saying.

Set up your main Hootsuite dashboard so you can listen to EVERYTHING

I have a specific order in which I set up my main dashboard on Hootsuite.

First off, you’ll need to know how to setup your Twitter dashboard. Click on the new tab button (+ button) to start a new tab.

Once you start a new tab, you’ll need to start setting up streams. To do this, just click on the add stream button.

You’ll end up with a box like this. Select your Twitter account, and then start adding the “types of streams” on your dashboard.

Now you’re ready to start adding streams. My dashboard has the following streams, in this particular order – My Tweets Retweeted; Mentions; Keyword Search (domain name, hashtag, alternate spelling); Sent Tweets; Retweets By Me; Direct Message (Inbox); Direct Message (Outbox); Home Feed. You can slide the newly added streams in whatever position you want them by just clicking on the top bar, and dragging it.

All of these functions can be found in the main stream tab except for “Keyword Search” – this one is found in the Keyword tab:

I’ve added the following Keywords for SteamFeed’s account: SteamFeed [this is our domain name], #SMRebels [this is our hashtag], and “Steam Feed” [an alternate spelling]. This way, I can see who tweeted links from our website but haven’t mentioned us in the Tweet. This allows me to respond to people, and thank them for the Retweet, without them directly mentioning @steamfeedcom. Also, a lot of people mention @steamfeed instead of our Twitter account, so we can monitor these tweets as well.

With this setup, you’ll be able to listen to everything anyone is saying about you (or your company) in one simple place. I take it a step further, and listen to what my influencers are saying as well.

Listen to your influencers, brand evangelists, friends, and competitors

I always keep a close eye to what my influencers are saying, and I do this through Hootsuite. It’s the same setup as your “Keyword Search” for your own brand, except the keywords are for someone else’s Twitter presence.

To do this, create a new tab (like was shown previously). You can call that tab whatever you want (I name it “Tweep monitor,” for people I like to engage with). Once you’ve created the tab, start a new “Keyword Search” stream, like you did for your main dashboard. Instead of choosing keywords that are related to your Twitter account, type in the following: [Twitter handle], [domain name], and [alternate spelling]

For example, I like following conversations about Radian6, so I set up Radia6 (their domain name) and MarketingCloud (their Twitter handle) as search terms to monitor what they say, and what people say about the company. Make sure you don’t put the “@” symbol when you type in the twitter name that you want to follow, or it will only track people that are mentioning the account, not what that account is actually tweeting.

There are all sorts of things you can track with Hootsuite, as long as you know how to set it up. You can track industry keywords, your competitors, and what people are saying about you. Hopefully this helps you understand how to use Hootsuite as a listening dashboard, and helps maximize your Twitter management efficiency.

How do you use Hootsuite? Who (or what) do you like to track using this platform? Please leave a comment below!