Each week I participate in multiple Twitter chats –#BlogChat, #Speakchat, #Edchat, and #LeadershipChat; every group offering something unique. Although the chats themselves are quite stimulating, the more important thing to me has been the connections and relationships that have developed as a result of my participation. These relationships display what is best about social media, new technologies and what can happen when like minded people who share common passions are able to work together regardless of time and proximity.
Twitter chats can be invaluable to your social media success. There are literally dozens of scheduled chats that take place every week; chats on everything from strategy to design. There is something for everyone, and the benefits are immense.
In just one chat session, you could:
- learn – expanding your knowledge, thinking, and influence
- connect or reconnect future clients or colleagues
- be found by new audiences
- display your expertise
- position your value in the marketplace
- have the opportunity to help someone
- become a better question-asker
- discover a passion or develop a new interest
- grow the reach of your network
- expose yourself to new points of view and perspectives
- make someone’s day
- HAVE FUN!!!!!
That being said, the #Twitter Chat conversations can be quite overwhelming; especially at first. The Twitter platform is an interesting place to hold any conversation because of it’s innate constraints, it is built for speed and economy. When I first started participating in #Twitter chats I compared the experience to being in an auditorium with passionate voices shouting out there opinions about a topic in warp speed. Now, I am able to sort the signals from the noise and hear individuals that I wish to engage with at a deeper levels.
Here are my tips for making Twitter Chats a more rewarding experience for you and your organization:
1. Pick a Client Program that works for you.
I personally use TweetChat and Chattagged. Others I know prefer Tweetdeck and Tweetgrid (here is a great tutorial) with columns set up to follow the hashtag and certain people. Use whatever medium works for you, the important thing is that it refreshes frequently to keep up with the conversation. There are Lots of Chat Clients to choose from.
2. Do Your Homework:
Preparation Matters. All chats are open, but jumping in cold turkey may not be the best plan. A little preparation goes a long way. Do a little research on the Twitter chat you’re joining before you show up. Some chats have rules for how users are supposed to participate; for example, you may need to send in questions ahead of time. You want to be aware of the rules beforehand so that you’re able to participate. You should also be familiar with whoever is hosting the chat and get an idea for what they’re most skilled in and what they’ll be bringing to the table.
3. Honor the Hashtag:
Honoring the hashtag is the number one rule in a Twitter chats. It helps participants stay connected in the conversation. The hash symbol (“#”) helps keep the participants in the chat on track, but also makes it easy for anyone passionate about that topic to identify the chat, read the archives, and participate in future chats. The chat archives are invaluable after the chat and would not be possible without the commitment to the #hashtag from all participants.
4. Actively and Strategically Participate:
- Find and Follow The Moderators: Pay attention to the #hashtag before the conversation starts to learn who the moderators are. Follow the moderators by creating a search for them. The moderators do a great job of keeping the conversation moving by asking questions. When they ask a question reply directly to them with an answer.
- Pick a Few People: Realize that you are not going to be able to interact with everyone in the “chat-torium.” Follow the conversation an pick a few folks that you find particularly interesting and respond to them. If the person who sent the original tweet replies to your reply you have started a conversation. Likewise if someone replies to one of your tweets, reply back to them to continue the conversation.
- Share links conservatively: Links are great, but the speed is of the essence during the conversation itself and links slow the conversation down. If you take the time to find a link and post it you will miss something, if you click on a link during the conversation you are missing something. Save your links until after the conversation is over.
5. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up:
After the chat ends, follow the users you enjoyed interacting with and learned from. This helps keep the conversation going and strengthens your ties with those contacts. You may also want to e-mail or send a message to the hosts of the chat to thank them for putting it together or let them know you found it valuable. Twitter chats are a great networking tool, so you should use them as such. The same way you’d follow up after an in-person networking event, you should follow up here as well.
During the chat, you may want to star or mark the tweets from people whom you want to connect with later. It is easy to forget with tweets coming at you in light speed. After the chat, follow them, send an @username reply, or send them a polite (not spammy DM with no links). Also add them to a Twitter List of people you’ve interacted with or to a list by the main topic they tweet about.
So I ask once again, “Is Twitter Chat a part of your social media strategy?”
If not, how can I help it to be?
- Twitterquette 101: Lesson Two (fortheloveofpr.com)
- The TweetChat (crossroadsconsultingllc.wordpress.com)
- Twitter chats (pineapplepressfl.wordpress.com)
- Top Tips and Inspiration from Twitter Chats – Litmus (litmus.com)
- Using Twitter as a Pulse, Not a Firehose (prbreakfastclub.com)