Most Marketers use Twitter as a broadcast medium, creating bite-sized nuggets of interest for their prospects, clients and industry. There is a new revolution that is key on the Twitter-Sphere, whereby people can hold live discussions on topics related to the business or the industry with like-minded individuals. These are know as Twitter chats.

According to Hubspot, “Most Twitter chats have one or more organizers who moderate the discussion and set the day and time for the conversation. Additionally, the chats use hashtags, which are words or phrases that are preceded by a “#” sign, example: # inboundmarketing . Hashtags allow people to follow the group conversation using Twitter Search. To follow a chat in your industry you can simply put the hashtag for the conversation into Twitter Search and watch the the tweets flow.”

Some chats are just on Twitter, while others can accompany a live in-person meeting or conference . Another popular pairing is a TweetChat with a webinar.

Now, Twitter chats aren’t really new. Chats reached their maturation during the last presidential election, when both parties were trying a variety of ways to reach out to potential voters. But for the B2B industry, this form of communication is increasing in popularity as a means to get in front of very specific vertical markets.

So how would you go about creating your own Twitter chat for your B2B audience?

First, do a search on Twitter for Tweet chats in your industry or on topics your company would focus on. The best planning begins with listening. There is a Twitter Chat Schedule available for regularly occurring chats. Join a few and see what’s being talked about. Add your input to the chats; ask questions, answer others.

Make sure you promote your involvement using the appropriate #hashtags and across all your social media platforms.

Start to follow “influencers” in the chats and see what topics they are discussing. At this point, you may also be increasing your followers, and have a good jump off point to start your own Tweet Chat.

Promote the chat on all social media outlets, as well as through email blasts, you email signature, your website and blog. Ask questions using your hashtag ahead of time to gain some content for the actual event.

At your first chat, you may need to spend some time yourself, or have someone on standby to help people with any “technical difficulties” in connecting to the chat.

During your chat, make sure you tweet and retweet with your hashtag; ask questions and give credit where it’s due; give your own insights, and follow your participants in real-time. When the chat is over, make sure you take the time to thank each participant individually , and collectively (#FollowFridays are great for this). These practices will strengthen your relationships and draw people into future chats.

Over the course of the next day or so, create a list of the top ten takeaways from the Twitter Chat, and use the #hashtag to attract retweets and follows front he same content you created from the chat.

I like to use the tool TweetChat to moderate my own chats, and Hootsuite to monitor other chats. You can measure the reach of your tweets using TweetReach to see how effective the chat was on reaching new followers.

Twitter Chat are a free way of gaining exposure to your prospects, colleagues, and yes, even competition on a social media platform that is often ignored or taken for granted, The only investment to your company is your time and resources, but can reward you with a new stream of followers, and potentially, leads.