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Should I participate in Twitter chats?

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On Small Business has a new feature in which young entrepreneurs will answer common questions about small business owners’ social media needs. The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of young entrepreneurs.

Q: What is the value of Twitter chats?

Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Media in New York:

“There are hundreds of Twitter chats for different topics, and if there isn’t a Twitter chat for your industry yet, you should start one! Likeable hosts a Twitter chat called #LikeableChat every Sunday night at 10 p.m. EST to talk about hot topics in social media. Twitter chats allow brands to lead the conversation about their industries, which provides unparalleled value in both the short and long term. The great thing about #Likeablechat is that it takes place on a very widely-used platform, which allows hundreds of people to participate at once. Twitter’s widespread reach helps us connect with prospects and fans all over the world. We’ve already closed over $300,000 worth of business generated from Twitter chats, and each week we continue to form connections that will lead to new business opportunities.”

Alexandra Levit, president and founder of Inspiration at Work in Chicago:

“I love Twitter chats. They allow people who want real-time, spontaneous advice on a topic to listen in for an hour and get an array of diverse and thoughtful opinions. The best chats host a lot of topical experts at once so that they can piggyback on one another. The organizers also carefully think through a few questions in advance to guide the discussion. And by the way, sponsoring a Twitter chat is a terrific, low-cost way for an organization to brand itself in a particular space.”

David Spinks, director of product marketing and community of Zaarly; co-founder of Blogdash in New York:

“Twitter chats are a valuable platform for hosting public, regularly scheduled conversations with your audience or customers. Since everyone who is participating in the chat will also be posting in his or her own stream, their followers will become aware of the chat and may decide to join in, creating the opportunity for the chat to grow organically.

“These chats provide an opportunity for your users or customers to share ideas, ask questions and connect with each other. However, they’ll only be valuable to your company if they’re also valuable to participants. If you’re considering starting a Twitter chat, make sure that your audience is actually present on Twitter for discussion purposes. If all they do is share articles or promote things, they’re less likely to participate in a chat.”

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