Sometimes we have to counsel our clients about Twitter, specifically Twitter chats. We've all seen lists of best practices for Twitter chats, but there are worst practices too, of course.
Below are some of the worst practices I've seen, as well as those of some contributors.
You're approaching Twitter chats incorrectly if you:
1. Suggest the client use any hashtag it wants. Another group may actively use the same one. This is particularly true if you intend to use an acronym.
2. Hint that your client should hijack a conversation. Unfortunately, this is very easy to do. Just find a regular conversation and provide comments that parallel the discussion, but don't actually engage in the conversation.
3. Use hashtags that are too long. You only have 140 characters on Twitter, so don't eat up too many of those with the hashtag.
4. Use a company name exclusively. Unless you're a major brand that everyone will recognize, don't use a company name exclusively. It is too easy for a simple mention or customer complaint to show up in the chat.
5. Use confusing or obtuse hashtags. Hashtags should give some indication of what the chat is about. It helps with brand/topic recognition.
6. Use an acronym that has multiple meanings. For example, remember "PR" doesn't just stand for just public relations, but also Puerto Rico. Guess how many things ADA, AMA and APA stand for?
7. Tell your client you will register the hashtag. There is no legitimate hashtag registration process. There are a few registries for organizational purposes, but because no one can own a hashtag.
8. Don't research a hashtag before you use it. For example, if your client is a tech startup in NYC, know that people use the #NYC hashtag to reference anything that has to do with the city. The hashtag may not bring you the appropriate audience. You can find something better.
Tell me, readers. What's the worst advice you've heard about Twitter chats?
Nathan Burgess is a senior account executive at BlissPR, where he counsels B2B clients in the development of social media and digitally-based marketing programs. He also is editor and publisher of the PRBreakfastClub blog, where a version of this article originally ran.