Looking for ways to grow your business’s audience on Twitter? Try joining a Twitter chat. As a participant, you’ll have the opportunity to network with other small business owners and industry experts while discussing topics that will help your company grow.

During a Twitter chat, a group of Twitter users discusses a topic using a specific hashtag. A moderator will typically pose questions to participants or facilitate a Q&A with an influencer or subject matter expert. Anyone who’s interested in the topic can join the conversation at the designated day and time. To participate, all you need to do is create a Twitter account and include the chat’s hashtag in your replies to the conversation. You can share any insights that you have on the subject, learn from others and ideally start building relationships with other users.

While you can find Twitter chats on a multitude of marketing topics, we’ve put together a list of weekly discussions that are especially useful for small business owners, as well as a few tips to help you navigate your first event.

1. #SmallBizChat

Billed as “a weekly Twitter talk show dedicated to helping you succeed as your own boss,” this live chat is a gathering of small business owners from across the U.S. Host Melinda Emerson interviews experts on issues that any entrepreneur would find useful, like how to handle an IRS audit, the do’s and don’ts of working with family, and how to make more sales in less time.

When: Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST

2. #MediaChat

Ready to discuss the latest social and online media trends and marketing tactics? Then check out this Thursday night chat. Thought leaders cover everything from podcasting for your business, to how to get attention with video, to driving your message using social media.

When: Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST

3. #ProdChat

As a small business owner, you have to wear multiple hats. You’re an email marketer, a bookkeeper, the head of human resources — and there’s so much more that needs to be done. For general tips and discussion on how to manage your list of tasks, meet deadlines and improve your overall productivity, you won’t want to miss this hour-long Twitter conversation.

When: Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST

4. #CustServ

Learn how to better meet your customers’ needs with advice from customer service experts. Past topics include “Is new technology making customer service better? Worse? Different?” and “How do you build a relationship, from first impression to repeat customer, through service?”

When: Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST

5. #TwitterSmarter

Social media and the law, community building, and social strategy are just a few of the topics recently addressed during this hour-long chat. Hosted by social media power influencer Madalyn Sklar, #TwitterSmarter regularly features Q&A sessions with marketing professionals and will help you make the most of your time on Twitter.

When: Thursdays at 1 p.m. EST

6. #Blogchat

You already know that blogging can bring more traffic to your business website. But how can you get your blog noticed? How do you encourage readers to take action? Join #BlogChat, and you’ll find the answers to questions like these while learning how to create valuable content for your audience.

When: Sundays at 9 p.m. EST

Twitter chat do’s and don’ts

Every chat has its own set of etiquette guidelines — which may be mentioned by the moderator before the conversation begins — but generally, you can have a fun and productive experience if you follow these three rules:

Stay on topic

Unless it’s been explicitly okayed by the moderator, it’s best not to post off-topic links to your website or any other promotional content during the chat. This is everyone’s opportunity to learn and share advice. A comment that’s basically an ad for your products or services will likely be viewed as inappropriate and could interrupt the flow of the conversation. Stick to discussing the topic at hand. If someone wants to learn about your business, they will reply to you directly. You could also try connecting with another user privately — or outside of the chat’s hashtag — if you feel they’d be interested in learning more about your organization. But you’re likely to build more awareness for your business by simply engaging with the topic in a thoughtful way.

Show your support

While you should refrain from spamming the hashtag with promotional posts, you can — and should — still use the chat to grow your network. If another user says something that you like or that you feel would be valuable to your own audience, retweet their comment. Before the event starts, let your followers know that you’ll be joining, and be sure to share the start time, date and hashtag.

Maintain the flow of conversation

If you arrive late, scroll through the conversation to see which topics and questions have already been addressed. You don’t want to jump into the chat and ask a question that’s already been covered.

Having an active social media following can create more recognition for your company. But building an audience can be a major challenge. Twitter chats provide you with an excellent opportunity to expand your network organically as you learn the techniques that give your business a boost.

Interested in learning more about social?

Chat with our social media team.

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