11 ways to make your Twitter chats a major force

New York Times columnist Melinda Emerson made her name with #smallbizchat, a weekly Twitter chat she hosts. She’s developed the process, and is sharing her insights here.

Next week, New York Times columnist Melinda Emerson, known to many as @smallbizlady, will host the 200th #smallbizchat on Twitter.

Those weekly, hourlong chats are a force to be reckoned with, garnering around 1.2 million impressions each Wednesday evening.

They didn’t start that way, of course. Emerson launched her chats in April 2009, after five months of being on Twitter and noticing PR consultant Sarah Evans’ #journchat and seeing the degree of people’s involvement. Emerson then started her own peer-to-peer mentoring program for small-business owners.

How did Emerson grow her chat to what it is today? She offered 11 hints to aspiring chat hosts:

1. Be aware of time.

“I made my chat only one hour and picked a time in the evening so it wouldn’t be during people’s work day,” Emerson says.

That doesn’t mean chats have to be in the evening hours, however. It just depends on the audience, she says. Small-business owners don’t have a lot of time during the day, but people in other fields might.

Whoever your audience is, be sure you start on time.

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