You’re Doing Twitter Chats #Wrong When…

Providing counsel on Twitter, and sometimes specifically Twitter chats, frequently falls in our laps at the request of clients.  While we’ve all seen the ‘best practices’ for these things, there are of course, worst practices.  Some of my top ones, as well as those of some contributors, are below.  What are some of the worst practices you’ve seen?

You’re doing Twitter wrong for clients if you:

  • Suggest they can use any hashtag they want: It may be actively used by another group – this is particularly true if you’re intending to use an acronym.
  • Hint that they should hijack a conversation: This is unfortunately very easy to do – find a regular conversation and provide comments parallel with the discussion at hand but not actually be engaged in the conversation.
  • Use hashtags that are too long: All the participants will be limited to 140 characters, don’t eat up too many of those with the hashtag (submitted by Paige Holden, on twitter here, here, and here).
  • Using a company name exclusively: Unless you’re a major brand that everyone will recognize.  And even then it becomes too easy for a simple mention or customer complaint to get inserted into the chat (also submitted by Paige).
  • Using confusing or obtuse hashtags: Hashtags should give some indication of what the chat is about. It certainly helps with brand/ topic recognition.
  • Along the same lines – using an acronym that has multiple meaning: For example remember ‘PR’ isn’t just public relation, but also Puerto Rico. Guess how many things ADA, AMA, and APA stand for?
  • Tell them you’ll register the hashtag: There is no legitimate hashtag registration process.  There are a few ‘registries’ that sprung up for organizational purposes, but no one owns a tag and so are effectively completely meaningless.
  • Suggest they use a hashtag to get an audience without researching it: For example, even if they’re a tech startup in NYC, the #NYC hashtag tends to be used by anyone referencing the city, not necessarily the completely appropriate audience, find something better.

So do tell loyal readers – what’s the worst of the worst you’ve seen when it comes to this?

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  • Great post Nathan and luckily I can say that I have been fortunate enough to participate in chats that are well run, use appropriate hashtags and do a great job in promoting themselves. One thing I have noticed on chats that lie on the “fringe” and aren’t as mainstream is that moderators tend to feel that they have to retweet every single tweet that comes across in the chat whether its from a guest or from a participant. I think it’s best to be selective on what you retweet and limit it to those tweets that have the most meaning, containing a helpful link or reinforce the topic discussed or question posed. Retweeing everything tends to dilute the message of the chat and can sometimes annoy others who follow you in their tweet stream and may not be participating in the chat themselves.

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  • Nathan, I think one of the biggest problems with Twitter chats these days is that the founder(s)/moderator(s) rely to much on their (social media) friendz to participate, rather than finding a core audience of relevant existing, past or potential clients and partners.

    Instituting a B2B Twitter chat is actually one of my recommendations in my recently published PR & SM column, Social Capital Byte: Institutionalizing Parity in B2B Relationships (on Windmill Networking).

    2. Consider hosting regular Twitter chats focused on your core business areas; directly invite clients each time to participate in the chats. Maybe even invite your star partners—i.e., those who have an existing affiliation—to guest moderate.

    Alternatively, let your client organizations’ representatives determine (by consensus—maybe an online poll) whom they want to see moderate and/or topics to cover. Build in a formal, institutionalized process for both, including a way to nominate moderators and topics.

    (For examples of Twitter chats targeted towards business needs, see 50 Best Twitter Chats for Business Students.)