7 Steps to Launching a Successful Twitter Chat Twitter chats are fun, educational and a great way to strengthen your brand. Like many things, your chat may not be an instant success, but eventually you will find a format that works for you.

By Wendy Frink

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Organizing a Twitter chat is a great way to establish yourself or your brand as a leader and build a community within your industry. Ideally, followers will increase, relationships will form, ideas will flourish, exposure will expand -- all for a fairly minimal amount of time and effort.

Here's how a Twitter chat generally works: Participants follow along by searching for your chat hashtag and then chiming in with answers to questions you ask. How you structure your chat is up to you. Some chats have a theme each week and others have a variety of topics they cover. For ideas or chats to participate in, check out this list of Twitter chats. Generally, a Twitter chat session lasts for an hour and is held once a week.

Here are some tips for creating your very own Twitter chat:

1. Create the hashtag. The hashtag is how everyone follows along (make sure participants know to put this hashtag in the Twitter search bar). Make it as simple, original and concise as possible. Ex: #LinkedInChat. You and your fellow chatters will use this hashtag in every single tweet.

2. Establish the time and date. Determine what time and day of the week would be best. After work? During the workday? What time zone does your industry operate in? Ask your followers what works for them.

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3. Promote your chat. Make sure you let everyone know that you launching a chat. Get in touch with your contacts directly and let them know to join in and to tell their followers. Sending direct message reminders a few hours before the chat can help too. And spread the word about your chat on your other social accounts like Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.

4. Pose the questions. Many chat hosts ask roughly five questions in one hour. Will your chat have a theme every week or be collection of random questions? Have these typed up prior to the chat along with your answers. Having your answers prepared will allow you to engage with other participants and retweet. If you're running out of ideas, ask your followers. They will ask what they want answered.

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5. Add photos. If it makes sense for your chat, encourage others to share photos with their answers. This increases retweets, thus exposure.

6. Approach sponsors. Can you or other companies offer an incentive to participate? (Free product, discount codes, sample subscription). While you don't want this to be the main draw, it certainly doesn't hurt.

7. Participate! Make sure to be active in your own chat. Social media can be very time consuming. A chat is a great way to spend one hour dedicated to engaging with potential clients, friends and sharing ideas.

Related: Building a Brand of Love Amidst a Harsh Reality

Wendy Frink

Social Media Editor at Entrepreneur.com

Wendy Frink is the social media editor for Entrepreneur.com.

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