A coach and consultant for businesses looking to strengthen their presences on social media, she’s lectured at schools and spoken at events such as South by Southwest (SXSW) and Social Media Marketing World (SMMW).
But many marketers know the Houston, Texas resident for running #TwitterSmarter. The chat, which she holds each Thursday, typically sees 5,000 posts over the course of a week.
Sharing her tips for creating and running successful Twitter chats, Madalyn Sklar is the seventh entry in our marketing influencer interview series:
Deliver Value to Your Guests and Yourself
Keyhole: Take me through how the #TwitterSmarter chat started and how it evolved into what is is today.
Madalyn Sklar: I’ve been doing Twitter chats for the last five years, so I have a lot of experience with them.
#TwitterSmarter started as a podcast. I launched the podcast back on June 1, 2015. And I knew I would want to start a Twitter chat around it by the fall. Well, the podcast was such a big hit from the start that I decided to start the chat early, on July 30, 2015.
The chat was primarily to complement the podcast. It was the same audience, helping us all connect easily.
It was an instant hit.
KH: How have you personally benefitted from running #TwitterSmarter and Twitter chats in general?
MS: It has elevated my career by really putting me out there as a thought leader. By hosting, people look to you as the leader.
While growing into a leader, you have all the control over how you want to be seen. I niched down to Twitter marketing, which not a lot of people focused on at the time. And so, very quickly, people recognized me as one of the few Twitter marketing leaders.
KH: How do your guests and participants benefit by joining #TwitterSmarter?
MS: Mainly, allowing them to talk to each other and make amazing connections that they might not have made.
In this kind of chat, you’re bringing together like-minded people who want to share and learn about Twitter tips. I’ve always said, from day one, if you want to share your tips, come on this chat. If you want to learn, come on this chat.
It’s for everybody who’s willing to talk and connect.
And a lot of people have gone on to work together having initially met through this chat. For example, I’ll see someone interviewing another person from the chat or working on business projects together.
But it all started from meeting on the chat.
KH: What’s the best piece of Twitter marketing advice you’ve received during a #TwitterSmart chat?
MS: It’s hard to say. I’ve had top marketing experts — Kim Garst, Peggy Fitzpatrick and other high-level social media marketing thought leaders on the chat.
If I had to narrow it down based on recent chats, Sandra Vega from @TwitterSmallBiz gave out so much great advice. I thought it was one of the best chats we’ve had. And I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve been a digital marketer for 20 years — so the advice that’s given out is stuff I know and practice every day.
But if I had to share something that really hits home, it would be one of the things that she shared. And it’s one of the things I talk to people about all the time: You have to have a great profile.
People are always going to look to see who the person behind the tweets is.
Sandra talked about how important it is to set yourself up for success by having a strong Twitter profile. It helps make first impressions count. It’s great advice for everyone who’s using Twitter.
KH: Let’s say I want to start my own Twitter chat. What advice can you give me?
MS: If you want to do it as a Q&A, you need great guests. But, most of all, you need to be a great host and leader because everyone is looking to you for guidance about how your chat runs.
I try to be really good about giving instructions, like house rules, at the beginning of the chat. “Be sure when you answer questions, you label them A1, A2, A3. We’re going to be having fun, so be sure to share your thoughts.”
But you can’t be afraid to go for it — do it week after week and be consistent about it. I see a lot of people start chats, but stop before giving it enough time to take off.
Sometimes people expect an overnight success, but that just doesn’t really happen. You need consistency.
Give Community Members What They’re Asking For
KH: In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges brands and businesses face when trying to build their presences on social media?
MS: Not paying enough attention to the followers.
So often, businesses promote themselves. And that’s all they’re doing. Just pushing, pushing, pushing.
They’re not taking the time to listen and implement valuable feedback, according to what their followers and community want.
Often, they’ll put out the content they think their audience would want from them. Rather, they should take time to say “What do you guys want to know? What do you want to learn about?”
I’m always polling my community, asking for feedback and advice. I want to make sure I’m on track with what they want.
Because if you’re not providing what your community wants, people will leave. They’ll unfollow you.
KH: What are some tips for overcoming the challenge of listening to your community and giving them what they want?
MS: Conduct Twitter polls from time to time.
I don’t see many businesses doing this, but the ones that do greatly benefit from it. It’s a quick and easy way to get instant, valuable information from your community.
And it’s real-time. So, you could do one right now and check it in an hour to see clear results from it.
KH: How important is sharing fresh content throughout day-to-day social media activity?
MS: You have to share good, fresh content every single day. That’s what gets people to come back, reading what you have to say and engaging with you.
So, every single day, I seek out new content to share.
When your community regularly sees great content that is new, you become a resource. That’s how my community members see me — they know I’m resource for good, fresh content that is updated each day.
KH: What advice do you have for brands and businesses that struggle with consistent content creation for social media?
MS: It’s a challenge to always have consistently-new content.
I love to blog, but I don’t have time to do it regularly. So, although I share my own content, I’m largely sharing other people’s work.
There are great publications like Social Media Examiner and other blogs that are relevant in my niche and industry, where I look for articles that my community would appreciate.
But I know a lot of brands and businesses are uncomfortable sharing other people’s content, and I totally get that. If they’re putting out a good amount of their own, then that can be fine.
But even Social Media Examiner will share other people’s content. Despite putting up a couple of new articles a day, they’ll occasionally share blog posts from other relevant sources.
And I think it’s great that they do that.
KH: When you coach, consult and run your chat, how big a role do social media analytics play in your strategies?
MS: A big role.
Your analytics give you an opportunity to see what’s working and what’s not. It’s a snapshot of your progress, so I always encourage my clients to regularly check their analytics.
So many times, you hear about people who log onto to their social media accounts and just push out a ton of content without paying attention to the results they get.
That’s why, when I bring up analytics with client, I’ll often get a response like, “Oh, that’s right. I forgot I could look at these.”
A lot of people also forget that Twitter has very robust analytics. I think a reason why is, a couple of years ago, the analytics were embedded in the ads platform. They were free, but unless you signed up to ads.twitter.com and put credit card information in, you wouldn’t get them.
Today, you can easily access your analytics without logging on to the ads platforms.
But I think a lot of people are failing to realize that they’re there, right in front of you. Twitter has made changes to let you see the analytics for each tweet, just by clicking on it.
Overall, it’s really important to stay on top of your analytics because, like I said before, it’s a snapshot to let you know how you’re doing.
Editor’s note: Use this tool to analyze Twitter accounts and hashtags — including chat hashtags:
KH: As Twitter marketers, what risks do we face by not using analytics?
MS: If you’re not checking your analytics, it’s hard to really gauge how you’re impacting your community.
You might think your community is made up of XYZ, but you check your analytics and may discover it’s something completely different. You have to stay on top of that.
KH: Which social media tools — be they for analytics, monitoring or scheduling — do you use and recommend to others?
MS: I use lots and lots of tools.
I’ve actually interviewed the CEO of Tweet Jukebox, Tim Fargo, for my podcast. And they’re actually about to have a free program along with their paid one.
I also use TweetChat for Twitter chats. It’s a great platform, whether you’re participating in one or running one. But I’ll also use Hootsuite to put out my questions …
That’s a snapshot of the tools that I use every single day.
KH: Having built an impressive social media presence on Twitter and across other platforms, what advice can you give to people who are looking to become influencers in their given fields?
MS: About the biggest thing you can do is be consistent in whatever you’re doing.
For instance, one way to get seen as an influencer is to get on Twitter chats in your niche and consistently share advice.
One person who’s done that really well is Brian Fanzo.
Early last year, not many people knew too much about him. When Meerkat came out, that helped get him on the radar. But although he was quite recognizable in the Meerkat community, it was the fact that he was on Twitter chats every single week that made other people take note of him — “Oh yeah, the livestreaming guy. This is the guy who’s on basically every social media Twitter chat.”
That consistent participation just totally elevated his career.
By regularly participating in Twitter chats, you become like Norm from Cheers, where everybody knows your name.
The first 10 minutes of #TwitterSmarter involve all the regulars saying hi to each other. We’re all part of a community, and everyone always says “Hey, how are you doing?” It was the same thing with my previous Twitter chat in the music community — 10 minutes of everyone reconnecting from the past month.
But that all comes down to being present and being consistent.
You also have to focus on sharing great content. And I know everyone always says that, but it truly helps you stand out. When you look at the influencers and learn from what they’re doing, they stay one step ahead of everyone by creating and sourcing solid content.
And, going back to Brian Fanzo, that’s another example of what he does very well.
Wrapping Up How to Create and Run a Successful Twitter Chat
KH: Any thoughts or opinions you’d like to leave the readers with?
MS: In addition to coaching and consulting, I’m also a motivator. One thing I’m always stressing is “Just do it.” And it may be easy to say, but it’s so hard for people to just make that leap.
One of my favourite quotes from Jack Canfield — he has this amazing book called The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be — is “ready, fire, aim” instead of “ready, aim, fire.”
Basically, when you’ve got your idea, just go for it and tweak it as you go. And so, I always tell people, just go for it, just do it, just make that leap.
Another great Twitter chat was started this year for Snapchat people. It’s called #ChatSnap. It was started by one of my colleagues here in Houston, Kristy Gillentine. She’s a Snapchat expert who I’ve learned so much from. I suggested she start a Twitter chat because there was no one else doing one, and it would be great for her brand.
I told her to just go for it. Because, really, what’s the worst that could happen? When you think about what the worst possible thing is, it’s not that bad.
And, just a side note, I have a tattoo on my arm that says “Just Do It.”
The Social Media Professor
- Aurora Meyer, University of Missouri Adjunct Professor
The Multimedia Journalist
- Samya Ayish, CNN Reporter and Social Media Producer
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