Twitter chats, sometimes known as a Twitter party or a tweet chat, happen when a group of people all tweet about the same topic using a specific tag (#) called a hashtag that allows it to be followed on Twitter. The chats are at a specific time and often repeat weekly or bi-weekly or are only at announced times. This post is to give you a quick overview on how to join a tweet chat.
Sign up for a free Twitter account
Fill out your profile, add a picture and follow at least the leader of the Twitter chat you want to participate in. Take a look at some Twitter etiquette tips and tricks to get the hang of using Twitter. Be sure to follow the chat hosts, guests and browse the posts on previous chats to see who else may interest you.
I frequently participate in Twitter chats and moderate some, for example the #TGTaste chats held by @BeaThirstyGirl and I’m participating in a few upcoming chats including #CabernetDay in September. I also love #PRChat, BlogChat and #SmallBizChat. Use the links below to find one you’re interested in.
How to listen
You can simply click on the hashtag on a tweet to see all of the recent tweets around that Hashtag. If you try to follow the chat from your own timeline on the Twitter web site you can, but if it’s a big chat you can quickly lose the thread of the conversation. Fortunately there are a number of sites that allow you to follow the chat only and participate more easily.
You can also follow a hashtag in your Twitter client like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. Just set up a search for the hashtag and all of the tweets with that hashtag should show up in the search window. These apps range in difficulty and also in update speed. I suggest you pick one of these options, drop in a hashtag for an upcoming event and see if it works for you.
How to participate
- When someone organizes a tweet chat they choose a hashtag related to the event and a time to hold the chat.
- They let as many people as possible know about it and ask them to spread the word.
- Often they will assign a moderator to welcome participants, ask questions and generally keep the conversation on track.
- If there is a guest answering questions they may be posed by the moderator or the participants.
- When you join the chat, spend a moment to scan the tweets around the tag. Who is talking? If there is a host or a featured guest what questions have been posted? What is the theme of the chat?
- Feel free to share tweets from within the chat with your network, perhaps by re-tweeting or with comments, but don’t forget to use the hashtag so people can follow along
- Re-tweeting the posts of another user in the chat is a common way to support statements from other tweeters and share them with your own networks
- If you ask a question or respond to someone in the chat, use the hashtag so everyone can be in on the conversation
- It’s OK to greet your friends who are participating in the chat with a quick mention, but don’t use the hashtag unless it’s on-topic
- If you have enough space in the tweet to share their post and comment too great, but if there isn’t you can re-tweet their comment intact and then @mentionthem with your feedback and be sure to use the hashtag
- It’s acceptable to send a private tweet to someone if it is off the topic of the chat, but try to do it outside of the hashtag so it doesn’t end up in the archive of the chat
- If you ask a guest to moderator a question, please stay on topic
- If the chat is a wine tasting session, let people know what wine you’re tasting before you tweet your tasting notes
- It is not OK (in most cases) to use a tweet chat stream to market your own product or services. This isn’t about you
- YOu might want to let people know you’ll be participating in a chat in advance. This is a nice way to support the host and let your network know you may be a bit noisy during that time.
- Some Twitter clients allow users to “mute” a particular tweeter or hashtag. There’s a Chrome extension that can do this for your users if they like.
All in all, Twitter chats can be a fun way to talk about a topic, meet some people interested in the same thing as you are, grow your own network and have some fun. Give them a try!