What is a Twitter Chat and Why Should I Bother?
Chatting on Twitter = Fun!
Even though I’ve been on Twitter since 2008, it wasn’t until the fall of 2011 that I began participating in Twitter chats. Up until then, I resisted the idea of using Twitter for live chats.
Silly me! Once I finally took the plunge, I discovered that chatting on Twitter is a blast.
Why join a Twitter chat?
Twitter chats let you connect with others to pool information. You will make friends and you can learn a lot.
What is a Twitter chat?
Here’s the deal: people gather on Twitter at a predetermined date and time to have a live Twitter Q&A session about a specific topic.
The topic can be anything: travel, writing, Texas, steam engines, marketing, spiny lobsters – whatever! There really is no limit to the subject matter.
Quick Tips: How to Participate in a Twitter Chat
When is it?
Once you know there is a chat on a subject you are interested in, you need to log into Twitter at the right time and day.
Get there early
Actually, I recommend showing up at least 5 minutes before the chat is scheduled because – just as in real life – it’s fun to mix and mingle before the meeting is called to order.
Use Tweetdeck to follow the chat hashtag
There are a lot of options out there, but I have used Tweetdeck for years. It’s such a great tool and it’s free.
If you don’t already use Tweetdeck, go to Tweetdeck.com and login with your Twitter account. Make a column specifically for the Twitter chat that you will be participating in.
For example: If you are coming to #AuthorsMarketing chat on Thursday from 6-7pm Texas time, then you will want to make a column to follow the #AuthorsMarketing hashtag. Here’s a 1-minute YouTube video that shows you how to do this: How to add a column in Tweetdeck.)
This lets you follow along with the Twitter chat conversation
Adding a column in Tweetdeck lets you see the entire conversation. Using #AuthorsMarketing as an example once again, each time someone sends a tweet that includes #AuthorsMarketing, it will show up in that column.
Now you can follow along and join the conversation as it flows by. If you lose your place, you can scroll back down and catch up.
What if you’re on your phone?
I don’t recommend using your phone for Twitter chats, but it can be done. It’s just much harder to keep up. There is a Tweetdeck app, but I’ve never used it. It’s probably great.
But what I do on the rare occasions that I have to use my phone for a Twitter chat, is that I simply type the chat’s hashtag (for ex: #AuthorsMarketing) into the search bar on Twitter. Please note: Make sure you then click on the tab that says “latest” so that you will see all the newest tweets.
How to participate in a Twitter chat Q&A
During a Twitter chat, the person leading the conversation will start tweeting questions every few minutes. These questions are usually formatted something like:
Q1 Why do you like chatting on Twitter? #AuthorsMarketing
As you can see, the first question is labeled, “Q1,” and it ends with the name of the particular chat group.
Now that you know what the questions look like, how should you answer them?
During a Twitter chat, when you reply to a question labeled Q1, you should format it like this:
A1 Because chatting on Twitter is fun! #AuthorsMarketing
Use A1, A2, A3, etc for your answers to specific Q1, Q2, Q3, etc…
You want to use the A1, A2, A3, etc in your tweets so that people know you are replying to specific questions and not just carrying on a side conversation. (It’s fine to have side conversations!)
Important: Remember to include the Twitter chat hashtag in all your tweets!
You want to include the name of Twitter chat (in this case #AuthorsMarketing) in your tweets, so that people attending the chat will see them.
Tip: Remember to follow other people who came to the chat
I have made some really wonderful friends through Twitter chats and you can, too. And just like a face-to-face conversation, you may find you really hit it off with certain people. Remember to follow those people and like a few of their tweets so they know they’re on your radar.
Tip: Scroll back after the chat
Twitter chats tend to fly by, so after yours ends, take time to scroll back through all the tweets. I often find interesting tidbits this way.
Lather, rinse, retweet!
That’s all there is to it, folks. Beyond this, my only advice is to simply lather, rinse and retweet! Don’t be discouraged if your first couple of Twitter chats are a little confusing. It gets easier the more you do it!
Want to learn more? Grab my book for more Twitter tips
To learn more about Twitter, grab my 99 cent book, Twitter for Writers on Amazon. It’s chock full of easy-breezy tips for making the most of Twitter, especially if you are a writer. Here’s the link: Twitter for Writers
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Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in North Texas travel, cemetery symbols, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!”
Snider’s best-selling books include Paranormal Texas , Understanding Cemetery Symbols, and 100 Things to Do in Dallas - Fort Worth Before You Die.