How Does a Twitter Chat Work?
What is a Twitter Chat?
How does a Twitter chat work? What is a Tweet or Twitter chat? Tweet chats are a great way connect Tweeps (people who tweet) at a specific time to discuss a pre-determined topic on Twitter!
Why Would You Even Want to Join a Tweet Chat?
Tweet Chats can be vital to your social media success. Tweet chats connect you to a community of people who share a common goal, values and or interests. Participate in one tweet chat and you could gain valuable information, find interesting people to follow, gain new followers, help someone, find new clients or customers, connect with experts, grow your network, be inspired and even have some fun.
Tools to Help You Participate in a Tweet Chat
For those of you who have not been part of a Tweet Chat before please know that it can be quite overwhelming the first couple of times. Twitter is built for succinct communication and it is built for »speed.
There is a great tool aptly named Tweetchat just for this purpose! (UPDATE: See How to Twitter Chat After Tweetchat Shutdown) automatically adds the chat’s hashtag at that end of your tweets (which is good Tweet chat etiquette). Tweetchat also allows you to adjust the speed of new tweets and pauses to give you a chance to read and respond to tweets.
Find a tool that works for your and helps you keep up with the fast pace of the conversation.
Know Where You are Going
Get the scoop on the chat, the moderators and the chat rules before you join a chat. Some chats may require that you send in questions ahead of time and some may publish questions for the topic well in advance of the chat. Many chats will post a certain number of questions and number them, e.g. Q1, Q2 and Q3. To respond to the questions you are asked to include the letter ‘A’ and corresponding question number. So that when you answer Q2 you start your post with A2.
Respect the Hashtag
Respecting and using the hashtag is the number one rule in Twitter chats. The hash symbol (#) will keep participants in the chat on track, it allows for anyone to review the chat archives, and builds community around a topic. You can also follow a hashtag on Twitter, Tweetdeck, Hootsuit and other twitter tools. Chat archives are developed after the chat with tools like Storify can be invaluable to the community
10 Elements of a Twitter Chat
- Hashtag – the hashtag is a word or phrase prefixed with the symbol #. Examples: #grantchat, #leadership, #grants #GPA
- Pre-determined Time – Tweet chats usually occur on a weekly or monthly basis. Here is a handy Tweet Chat directory.
- Content – Tweet chats topics and content must be timely, relevant and provide value to the community or the chat and the community will fizzle. If you have ideas about topics be sure to share them with the moderator, they will be very thankful!
- Format – Some chats host quests with a Guest Q & A allowing the community to ask questions and the guest to answer. Other times a chat may have a format where the moderator interviews the guest and the community has a period for Q & A after the interview. Others post questions to the community for a forward Q & A chat. Some Tweet chats may stick to one style or format for all of their topics while others moderators will vary their format from chat to chat.
- Moderators – Moderators host the chat, set the agenda, respond to questions and keep things going.
- Community Leaders – Twitter chat community leaders are participants who want to help others, they are welcoming to new participants, they promote the chat and they engage in the community.
- Guests – Guests are often invited to participate in the Tweet chat to offer their perspective, to educate and to inspire the community in their area of expertise.
- Conversation – What is social media? Its big conversation. There is a lot of conversation going on in a Tweet chat. Sometimes it can be like being at a social event where everyone ends up in the kitchen talking over, around and with each other. Sometimes everyone is on the same page and sometimes there are side conversations and many people talking at once.
- Enjoy! Tweet chats are there to inspire, to give you resources, connections, motivation!
- Archive – Once the chat is over the moderators may chose to archive the chat so that the chat is available for those who missed the live version, for those who want to check out the chat on their own time and for those who simply couldn’t make it that week. What do we mean by ‘archive’? Here is a link to a Storify archive for #TChat.
Pointers for Participation in Tweet Chatting:
- This is one time when lurking is good! You can look up previous Tweet chats by their hashtag and review the interactions. You can watch the Tweet Chat live to get a feel for the group and process before you join the conversation.
- Join when you feel comfortable, but don’t wait too long. Tweet Chat communities are usually very inclusive, approachable and welcoming. Lurking is fine but you will get more out of it when you participate. Also, you bring value to the conversation. Your unique perspective adds to the other participants’ experiences. You have stuff to offer so don’t keep it to yourself.
- Ask for clarity. If the topic or question is confusing ask the moderators for clarity. You are probably not the only one who is confused and other participants will appreciate your willingness to speak up and make the conversation more valuable.
- Connect! You can contact the moderator or other chat leaders before and after the chat. The connections aren’t just about the short period during the chat. You can promote the chat and invite others to participate with you. It is about networking and building relationships.
- Value the community. Respect the topic and move forward with a positive attitude. Tweet chats are about progress, learning, and building. Complaining, whining and negative tangents will isolate you from the community.
- Invest in the community. If someone sounds interesting, seems to share your values and you would like to know more about them and their work be sure to visit their profile, website and follow them. Strong communities develop when people take time to network with other people from the group.
- Play with toys before the chat. Try out some of the tools that help you manage and participate in a Tweet chat in advance of the chat to reduce frustration and increase your ability to concentrate on the content of the chat.
- Remember, its Public! All of your tweets are public and will show up on your timeline for all of your followers to see. If you plan on posting a lot on a particular chat you may want to give your followers a heads-up that they will see a flourish of tweets with the tweet chat hashtag.
I love Tweet chats! I have met some of the most amazing people through Tweet chats. Some of the chats that I recommend are:
We are getting ready to start #grantchat and would love to see you there. Diane, of DH Leonard Consulting, and I will be moderating #grantchat. You can join us for our first #grantchat starting March 12 at Noon ET. I will be posting our calendar, topics and much more on this website and through Twitter @JM_Grants. Stay tuned.
Do you have questions about Twitter or Twitter Chats? Ask, we are here to help.
Do you have a Twitter chat you would recommend to our followers? Please leave suggestions and questions in the post comment box below.
Do you have suggestions for #grantchat? Do you have advice for our moderators? Please post and share below.
I hope to see you in the Twittersphere.