Our speakers are sharing great content with us leading up to the conference. Today’s post is from Vanessa Chiasson who will be presenting a session called Twitter Chats for Beginners, Brands and Businesses. Socap is coming up fast – get your tickets soon!

Does participating in a Twitter chat make you feel, well, like a bit of a twit? You’re not alone! It can be intimidating to jump into a new community and it’s easy to feel like you’re in over your head. But Twitter chats are tremendously valuable to businesses and brands. Done well, Twitter chats help your brand stand out as a relevant, modern, witty, and personable force to be reckoned with. You can make new networking contacts, enhance your reputation, and even attract new potential customers. If you’re wondering where to start, here are some suggestions to help point you in the right direction.

Pick a fun topic

Who doesn’t love toasted baguette and melted Brie? Or have an opinion about Montreal versus New York bagels – let alone New York versus Chicago pizza? #Foodiechats (don’t forget the “s”) happens every Monday night at 8pm EST and is the most delicious chat around. The participants are welcoming, the pace isn’t too fast, and the subject matter will have you reaching for your apron and whisk. No matter what your business or brand, you’ll feel right at home in #Foodiechats.

Learn a lot

Got that coffee ready? Then dive into #blogchat – one of the oldest and biggest of all Twitter chats. Alternating between personal and business blogging topics, this weekly chat (Sunday, 9pm EST) moves fast but it’s totally okay for newbies to throw out questions. The last chat of the month is “Open Mic” and all questions and topics are welcomed to be discussed.

Show off your personality

Who says being a little bit kooky isn’t good for business? People love connecting with vibrant personalities on Twitter and #NUTS is a great way to do that. Every Tuesday at 3:30pm EST, the “Not-so-Usual-Therapy-Session” examines the world of food, travel, and adventure with a decidedly humorous bent. As an added benefit for new participants, you can preview the questions in advance at http://midliferoadtrip.tv/nuts-weekly-twitter-chat/.

Be an industry leader

Believe it or not, there are Twitter chats for just about every industry. Participate in yours consistently and before long you’ll be the person everyone turns to for answers. Here are just three examples:

If you’re in health care, try #hcsm: the healthcare communication community chats about communication and marketing practices by healthcare organizations (Sunday 10:00pmEST).

#SportsPRChat: brings together sports, public relations and media professionals, professors and students, Tuesdays at 9pmEST.

#solosmalllaw: a chat for solo and small firm attorneies to network and learn about legal marketing, legal practice and technology. Thursdays at 9pmEST

Bonus Tips!

Introduce yourself – telling people where you are tweeting from and what you do for a living will help you make instant connections within the chat.

Don’t be shy – retweet interesting comments, offer up your own opinions, and tell people why you like (or don’t!) their chat answers.

Keep tweets short and sweet – you want to allow room for others to comment on what you say.

Don’t take yourself too seriously – be polite and professional, of course, but also relaxed and casual. There’s nothing wrong with two lawyers or accountants firming up a new relationship by waxing on about the wonders of taco food trucks.

Ease up on the self-promotion – unless your recent blog post is extremely relevant to the question being asked, hold off on sharing it. And forget about selling anything under any circumstances – this is neither the time nor the place.

Have you made a particularly strong connection with some participants? Do more than follow them – make a note of their names and give them a shoutout on Friday Follow (#FF).

You don’t need a ton of followers or much social media experience to excel in Twitter chats. With a bit of practice and patience, you’ll be a Twitter chat pro in no time!

Vanessa Chiasson has been hosting Twitter chats for 2 years, including the hugely popular #girlstravel, which attracts a loyal community of participants from around the world and regularly achieves several million timeline impressions. In her Social Capital Conference session, Vanessa will walk beginners through the basics of participating in a Twitter chat and explain how it can help enhance a personal or business brand. And for those looking to expand their social media presence, Vanessa will explain all the logistics behind setting up your own successful Twitter chat – from drafting questions, choosing an ideal topic and time, connecting with your audience, attracting sponsors, monitoring hashtag use, and more.