Tips for Running a Successful Tweetchat

Have you ever asked yourself how you can create an inbound marketing opportunity that can drive traffic to your website? You can look for opportunities like creating guest blog content, being a guest on a podcast, or doing a Facebook live interview. One way you can brand yourself and build your thought leadership is by creating a branded Tweetchat on Twitter.

Running a regular tweetchat is a great way to get your brand noticed. Why wait to be invited to be interviewed online by someone else. Create your own platform by holding your own tweetchat or interview show. It's a great way to establish your business brand as an industry leader and attract your target audience to your company.

This week marks the 7th anniversary of my weekly tweetchat #Smallbizchat , and my special guest for the anniversary show is Ryan Deiss, Co-Founder of The DigitalMarketer.com and Author of Invisible Selling Machine.

Over the last seven years, #Smallbizchat has grown to become the largest small business community on Twitter. Our mission is simply to end small business failure. We average four million media impressions each week. It takes place every Wed night on Twitter from 8-9pm. We give answers to the most pressing small business questions. Feel free to come chime in.

Now, if you want to know what is takes create a successful tweetchat. Here are a few vital tips:

• Set Up Rules of Engagement

We set up a few rules early on that have stayed true all this time for #Smallbizchat. Our chat is every Wed 8-9pm ET. We only allow founders and small business owners to appear as guests. We book guests at least six weeks in advance. We allow everyone who comes to the chat to introduce themselves the last five minutes of the chat during "Roll Call". We allow sponsors, but they must have a small business expert or customer come on the show to share expertise, we do not allow corporate executives or pr agencies reps to appear on #Smallbizchat. You should set up your own rules for how your tweetchat will run.

• Know Your Audience

Knowing who your audience is, helps you deliver better-targeted content and build relationships with them faster. Is your audience even interested in a tweetchat? That's the first thing to determine.

Then, you'll want to understand what topics they care about. What burning questions do they have that you are uniquely qualified to answer? This should be your starting point. Make a list of topics so you always have fresh ideas for your tweetchat.

• Book Guest Experts

Don't put pressure on yourself to answer all the questions on your show. Reach out to guest experts to come on your tweetchat and share their expertise. That's been a major part of the success of #Smallbizchat. When you invite experts in their own field to participate in your tweetchat, they usually are more than willing to help you promote your event. If they have a big following they'll attract even more attendees to your live show. Another bonus tip: Repurpose the interview as a blog post. There's a lot of prep work involved in producing a quality tweetchat. You can really help promote your guest even more by producing a blog post, especially if they have a new book or product on the market.

• Find a Unique, Easy-to-Use Hashtag

I really lucked out with the hashtag #Smallbizchat. It's short, easy to spell, and no one else was using it. ( I did eventually trademark it) Every tweet I or participants send out during our Wednesday events includes this hashtag. Other people see it and are curious, and then they participate in a tweetchat. It's self branding at its best.

To find out if the hashtag you like is in use, just search for it on Twitter. If there isn't already a stream of tweets with it, it's fair game. But make sure it's easy; you shouldn't have to spell out your hashtag for people to get it.

• Use Smart Tools & Processes

My team has gotten # Smallbizchat down to a fine art. We have the script prepared weeks in advance, and the guest receives a copy so she can simply paste her answers in when I tweet questions. Because the tweetchat is a rapid-fire event lasting just 60 minutes, we need to have our ducks in a row. So the more you can define processes, the easier your work will be.

As for tools, I love Tchat.io. You can follow any hashtag, and I use it to automatically put "#Smallbizchat" at the end of each tweet. You can also watch the stream from the tweetchat, which is always interesting. If you want to check you tweetchat analytics I love Tweetreach.com so that I can see how the crowd is responding to the topic and the guest.

• Set Up a Format

On #Smallbizchat, we always have 12 questions. I tweet a new question every 4 minutes, we also have three commercial breaks. That's where I typically reintroduce the guest, topic and remind people how to join the chat. We also plug how to pitch yourself as a guest. And we always plug next week's show and other special resources we have to share.

• Create a Marketing Machine

Promoting #Smallbizchat is a full-time job. And yours will be too. Because tweetchats happen regularly (every week or every month, typically), your marketing efforts never end. Make sure you update your blog with your chat schedule, send out a blast to your email subscribers, and update all your social accounts with the newest topic and guest. Try to get your hashtag as a twitter account too. We use @Smallbizchat to promote the latest shows and guests on #Smallbizchat.

Now that you know how to set up a Tweetchat, try it. Pace yourself. Once a month is plenty at first. Once you et started, see how fast your social network grows as you share valuable information. You could pull yourself to the head of the class and rank as a top influencers in no time.