As he gears up to launch ALLi's new weekly Twitter chat (under #IndieAuthorChat every Tuesday at 8pm BST, from Tuesday 15th April), Tim Lewis, co-host of ALLi's Beginning Self-publishing Podcast, explains how indie authors can set up and run their own Twitter chats as another means of reaching readers and building their loyalty.
What Is A Twitter Chat?
A Twitter chat is where a group of people come together on Twitter during a particular time and all tweet using the same hashtag (e.g #IndieAuthorChat). They then monitor the hashtag (usually using a tool like Twitter’s Tweetdeck) and then reply to questions and comments from other users who are also using the same hashtag.
Relationships made on Twitter chats are usually considerably deeper than normal Twitter relationships and can be a fantastic way to promote a brand to new and existing audiences.
Why Would an Author Run a Twitter Chat?
Twitter chats offer a great opportunity to engage with your readers on a regular basis. Besides engaging current readers, through a weekly Twitter chat you can:
- attract new readers
- identify influencers in your niche
- talk about things you love with like-minded people
- demonstrate subject matter and writing prowess.
You can also ask for feedback about subject matter, ideas, plot developments with a close-knit group of people.
Twitter chat relationships are much closer, more engaged and more long-lasting that the typical Twitter encounter. So how do you create a Twitter Chat that is engaging and how do you get people to come?
What Kind of Chat?
First you need to understand your intentions and goals for the chat? Do you want to sell books, forge relationships, learn more about your readers?
Most Twitter chats are an hour long and weekly. In general these chats are run with the following kind of format:
- An introductory “Say who you are and where you are from?” kind of tweet to allow people to introduce themselves. I would also add “what book are you reading?”
- A series of questions (usually about seven or eight) spread every seven minutes or so about the topic of that week’s show. Most chats have a guest who will answer the questions, though everyone is encouraged to answer the question as well.
- “Advertisement” tweets for you and your book
- A final tweet at the end of the hour thanking people for attending and telling them to come back next week when we’ll be talking about X.
In terms of guests, they should be subject matter experts in the topic of that week’s chat. These guests must be available at the time of the chat and familiar with Twitter, and hopefully Twitter chats. While it is possible to schedule questions and answers to Twitter chats, generally speaking it’s really obvious that the people aren’t there and it’s a great way to kill off an existing chat.
How to Run a Twitter Chat
You will probably need to use a website like https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/ and add a column for the hashtag you use for your chat (in ALLi’s case this is #IndieAuthorChat).
In terms of any questions you write for the chat, it is best to have these written out before the chat including the hashtag so you can just cut and paste them into Twitter at the appropriate times. You can use software like Buffer, Smarterqueue or Twitter itself to schedule these, but its generally less confusing to manually copy the tweets at the correct times.
Make an effort to reply to people introducing themselves in the chat and, time permitting, asking follow-up questions.
Note that it is good practice when going into Twitter chats to reply to tweets rather than creating fresh tweets (obviously the questions need to be fresh tweets). This will avoid your Twitter feed being saturated with tweets when the Twitter chat is taking place.
How to Join the ALLi Twitter Chat (every Tuesday)
Log into your Twitter account every Tuesday at 8pm BST and search for the hashtag #IndieAuthorChat – then join the conversation! It will provide a great practical example of how to run a Twitter chat, giving you confidence then to set up your own for your particular target audience.
OVER TO YOU Are you already a seasoned Twitter chat practitioner? Like to add any tips to Tim's? Feel free to leave a comment!How to run a #Twitter chat, by @StonehamPress's Tim Lewis - who'll be launching #ALLi's new weekly Twitter chat series on Tuesday at 8pm BST under #IndieAuthorChat Click To Tweet
OTHER USEFUL POSTS ABOUT TWITTER FOR AUTHORS
From the ALLi Author Advice Center