Twitter Chats 101

Want to step up your game on Twitter? Explore Twitter chats. They are a great way to meet new people, learn new things, and expand your network.

What is a Twitter Chat

A Twitter chat is a conversation on Twitter, noted by a particular hashtag. It usually revolves around a certain topic, and is hosted by the same person or group of people at the same time every week. While some are run by big brands, many are organized by individuals (experts, consultants, bloggers), who share a passion for a particular topic. 

Many Twitter chats have special guests who answer questions from the hosts. The format is simple. Q1 with a question is tweeted and people reply with A1 and then the response. Attendees are welcome to add there two cents - 140 characters - as well. Btw, not even addressing the news that Twitter is testing out expanding to 280 characters. Twitter will always be 140 characters to me.

You can use a website, like TweetChat, or a tool, such as Hootsuite. For TweetChat, type in the hashtag and then click to enter the conversation. It's very easy to reply and retweet messages. Plus your hashtag is automatically added at the end of each tweet. For Hootsuite, simply add a column with the hashtag you want to follow.

How to Find Twitter Chats

There are several different Twitter chat master lists, like this one from TweetReports and the Kneaver Chat Directory. Search the page for one of your keywords or read through the lists to see what appeals to you. Another way to find a specific type of Twitter chat is to simply search your topic of interest and then "Twitter chat." For instance, search for "Twitter Chats Writing" or "Marketing Twitter Chats," and you will find lists of top chats on the topic. 

Once you see a few chats that interest you, test them out. Make appointments with yourself to try one or two chats a week until you land on a few good ones to join regularly. 

Chat Etiquette

Before you get started, here are a few things to keep in mind.

- Follow the hosts. This is something you can do before you even get to a chat. Find the hosts, follow them, and tweet that you are looking forward to their chat. You may want to retweet some of their tweets prior to the chat.

- Follow the guests. Follow the special guests, as well. And if they give you other ways to connect, like on LinkedIn, you might as well do that too. Just add a note that you met them on this chat.

- Introduce yourself. Usually at the beginning of the chat the host allows time to introduce yourself with some sort of ice breaker. Jump on in. 

- Observe. You may just want to read the tweets your first chat or two. As I previously mentioned, attendees are typically welcome to reply. However, depending on how fast the chat, you may find it easier to watch the chat and retweet the responses that mirror your beliefs.

- Engage. When you are comfortable, answer questions and reply to others in the chat. You will likely want to follow the other attendees and continue your Twitter conversations outside of the chat.

- Do Not Self-Promote. Twitter chats are all about having conversations and sharing information. Unless there is a specific request, keep your promos and sales pitches out of the chat thread.

- Have fun. Like everything in social media and writing, Twitter chats are supposed to be fun. Share the things that get you excited about your industry and specialty. You'll make a great impression, which is also kind of the point. 

Examples aka My Recent Twitter Chats

I was lucky enough to be a guest on three Twitter chats recently. I tweeted about Getting Unstuck on #MediaChat, Mobile Tools for Writers on #MobileChat, and How to Improve your Productivity and Time Management on #TwitterSmarterI embedded the links for the questions and my answers, as well as some of the responses from the communities, in the recaps. Just click the links.

Also, on Monday, October 16, at 12pm Pacific Time, I will be a guest on #ContentChat, talking about Goal Setting for Bloggers. It will be a blast, so feel free to join in.

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If you want to meet and connect with leaders in your industry, why not give Twitter chats a try. They also give others a chance to meet you. And you never know where these new relationships might lead. 

What do you think? Have you participated in Twitter chats? Which ones do you like? Please share in the comments.

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Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the Guided Goals Podcast.

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

4 comments:

  1. A much – needed article, Deb! Now I need one on embedded in this sense you used it towards the end of your article!

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    1. Thanks, Carolyn. Something you need? Let me know. Am happy to help!

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  2. Debra, great information. I haven't tried Twitter chats yet, but it seems easy enough. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I have followed Twitter Chats on and off for years, and recently got involved with a few of them more consistently. Great way to engage and grow your network on that platform. Plus, being a guest on these chats is a lot of fun, as well as a challenge to answer questions within the character limit. Hint/tip: Sometime you answer in two parts A1A and A1B.

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