Anyone who says there is no conversation on Twitter has never seen a Twitter chat! These are a great way to connect with people around a specific topic and can get active. Naturally some chats have more lively discussion than others, and in the true spirit of Twitter they can be a bit chaotic, but you’ll find some tips below to help you engage, enjoy and prosper on Twitter through chats.
You can just follow the hashtag on the Twitter website, and if you’re an old hand at this like Joel Comm, you can engage there organically as the conversation develops.
At first these chats can be overwhelming so Twitter chat clients were developed to make it easier to follow the conversation and engage. If you’re already using a Twitter tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck you can set up a separate column just to follow the hashtag and engage right there.
That’s what Gini Dietrich does, especially for chatting in multiple chats at once.
“I just use TweetChat. It works for me and is easy to keep going, particularly when I have more than one chat at once.”–Gini Dietrich, CEO, Arment Dietrich
Some online resources for following hashtags help you focus and even give you a dedicated window where you can see the names of other participants and they even add the hashtag to the text entry window for you so you don’t have to type it in. This can be especially useful if you are new to chats.
Twitter chat clients we like:
Each of these offers a slightly different interface and some offer customization and host a page for your chat which is nice if you are repeating often. For example, here is the page for #MindfulSocial on Twubs.
Staying focused on a busy chat can help you engage more effectively. Sometimes it really is just taking a breath and being present.
“When participating in a fast-moving chat concentrate on one thing at a time. For example, take time to formulate and post your response to a chat question THEN scroll down to read tweets that were posted while you were typing your answer.” –Jenise Fryatt, Moderator of #ContentChat
Here’s a slide deck you may find useful on joining in on Twitter chats.
If you are building a business or a brand, it can be a tool to draw people to it with great content that is really valuable to them. You can bring on guests they want to have an opportunity to talk to, build a community of practice around a topic or just chat about topics and issues that matter to you. We have moderated chats for clients on a variety of topics from Peace and forgiveness to parenting books and wine tasting.
Instead of marketing messages educate people interested in the same topic. Bring on guests they respect and want to learn from. Talk about industry trends or strategies related to your business without shouting you marketing message. Believe me it will create more interest in a one hour chat than you probably had all week on Twitter in your marketing Tweets.
If you are the host or moderator a lot of your duties are around curating an engaged group to chat, answering questions about the chat and making sure everyone is happy. .
“Discuss a few different options for topics with your guest speaker. You want your topic to be broad enough that multiple people can participate, yet narrow enough that it will attract your targeted audience. Plus, you want to make sure your guest is knowledgable and comfortable with the topic chosen.
Draft your questions and answers long before the tweet chat. Make sure your guest also has ample time to formulate there answers.
With your questions done ahead of time, you can send them out to a few coworkers. That way they can join in each chat even if they are busy by scheduling their tweets.” –Amy Higgins, Senior social media manager for Zendesk.
If you are hosting, sponsoring or moderating a chat you’ll want to see if your chat is successful and there are quite a few metrics you may be considering. You will want to know how many people chatted, the number of tweets, retweets and the “reach” of the chat. The same tools I use here are also excellent for following the popularity of any hashtag, which can be useful for research but I won’t go there in this post. Here’s a short list. You’ll want to look at the features for each as cost depends on how deep you want to dive into the data and reporting. Some also report on hashtags on other networks which can be quite useful.
I started #MindfulSocial chat after having used the hashtag for some time. As more and more people were interested in it, and my book launch draws near I found more people intrigued by the idea and invited them to join me on Twitter. The chat is new, but it’s growing fast. Join it every Tuesday at 10 AM PT Find the archives here.
If you want to find a Twitter chat on a topic you can relate to do some searches for relevant hashtags on Twitter. You’re likely to find there are already chats set up. You can also search these lists of Twitter chats on Twubs, TweetReports, or this shared Google spreadsheet with lists of chats.