By Jenn Riggle
Twitter may be all about conversation, but sometimes it seems like companies are just talking to themselves. That’s why more and more, companies are looking to Twitter parties and tweet chats to change this dynamic.
But what’s the difference? At first glance, they look a lot alike. But we all know appearances can be deceiving.
Let’s start with a couple of brief definitions Twitter parties are virtual parties where people get together to discuss a topic of choice. Tweet chats are pre-arranged online conversations on Twitter about a specific topic or issue.
Both events have similarities, besides the fact they both use Twitter because they:
- Help promote your brand: Both Twitter parties and tweet chats provide forums for people to talk about your brand or a specific issue. In addition, they help organizations increase their number of followers and develop relationships with people who are passionate about a specific topic.
- Focus on a specific topic: These online conversations focus on a topic or issue that is relevant to your organization and to the community you’re trying to reach.
- Need the right hashtag: The hashtag ties your tweet chat or Twitter party together. It should reflect the topic and/or organization, be intuitive and ultimately be short. The hashtag can also have a longer life if people use it to mark their tweets about a certain subject. For example, the #HCSM stands for the Healthcare Communications and Social Media tweet chat, which is held on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern. However, the hashtag is also used to identify tweets about this topic.
- Require a moderator/host: Both events need a moderator or host to introduce guests “tweeters.” They also play an important role with Twitter parties by keeping the Twitter conversations – and giveaways – flowing.
- Feature subject matter experts: Both Twitter parties and tweet chats often have a featured expert who talks about a specific issue.
- Limit product promotion: The focus of these events isn’t just to promote a product, it’s to encourage discussion around a topic. Organizers need to remember they can’t be overly promotional. Instead, they should save product pitches for the last 5 minutes of the conversation.
- Use the same tools: People who participate in these events can use TweetChat, TweetGrid or TweetDeck to track the conversation.
Yet they have differences in the way they:
- Launch products: Twitter parties provide a better forum to introduce new products or services simply because they are more consumer-focused. However, companies can’t just push their products. Instead, they should create conversations around a related topic.
- Handle giveaways: While Twitter parties don’t always have coupons, giveaways or prizes, most do. This helps create excitement and a party atmosphere. A good rule of thumb is to have a product or coupon giveaways every 10 minutes of the event.
- Reach audiences: Marketing is all about positioning and the same is true for Twitter events. Twitter parties are more consumer focused and appeal to the “mommy” crowd, while tweet chats are more business or issue focused. By using the “wrong” name, you may not attract the audience you’re trying to reach.
- Secure sponsors: Twitter parties typically have sponsors who donate product or coupons for the giveaways. Tweet chats typically don’t.
Which event is right for you? If you’re trying to reach consumer audiences like moms or college students, host a Twitter party. However, if your goal is to reach business owners or issues-related audiences, hold a tweet chat.
You may also want to check out Lee Odden and Sarah Mae’s tips about how to host a successful tweet chat and Twitter party. And remember: archive the chat so people who missed the event can read it later.
Now you know the rules, let the games begin.