Twitter Chats are great for both the beginner and the advanced Tweeter (is that a real dictionary word yet?).
First Things First – What Is A Twitter Chat?
Imagine a chamber mixer or another kind of meetup where everyone interested in the same topic gets together, but instead of getting your business clothes on, you get to participate in your jammies and your laptop (or smartphone). The best part is that are so many Twitter Chats they’re in just about every industry or topic you can imagine.
So many ways to describe a Twitter Chat come to mind. Let me know which one helps you the most:
- A kind of webinar, but on Twitter
- A virtual open-door meeting for all who might be interested
- A networking opportunity with people interested in the same subject
- A public conversation using a common hashtag
- An organized conversation around a specific topic
- Most Twitter Chats have one or two hosts and one of their primary functions is to come up with the questions.
- The questions go out and the host(s) and public respond.
- The public is free to respond to any of the questions/answers with their opinions, experiences or more questions.
- Questions can be aimed at a specific person (add their @mention in your tweet) or just generally to the group.
Some Twitter Chats are more interview style where each weekly session has the same host but different interviewees. In this type of chat, the host will ask the interviewee the questions, but the public can also ask questions or talk amongst themselves.
What Are Twitter Chats Good For?
Twitter Chats provide a great opportunity for learning, but if you’re in business, they’re also a tremendous way to connect with peers and potential customers.
Generally, Twitter Chats are hosted by a brand representative and are scheduled weekly at the same time and day each week, although some are bi-monthly or monthly.
The host(s) usually have 7-10 questions they’ve prepared for the chat, so even though the chat is about a general topic, the questions each week do a deeper dive into a specific issue regarding that topic.
The general topic for #SocialBizChat is “What It Takes To Increase Business Using Social Media” so right away you’ll know if this is for you or not. (Truth in advertising, #SocialBizChat is hosted by me and my friend Angela Hemans. )
Our first chat was “How Do You Know Who To Follow?”. Our second chat was “Staying In Touch With Customers Online In A Time-Effective Way”.
You can see by the example above that while the topic is always about using social media more effectively for your business, the weekly chats delve into some of the details. In this way, you can learn in bite-sized chunks of information.
I Found It, Now What Do I Do With It?
Once you’ve found a chat that interests you, get into your Twitter account and put the hashtag the chat is using in the search field. Hit Enter and then choose Latest.
The hosts of the chat will usually send out a tweet a few minutes before the chat as a reminder to everyone. (You might want to turn on your notifications on the host’s Twitter account for your favorite chats if you have FOMO.) In that initial tweet, the host will have the topic and the hashtag that will be used.
Shortly thereafter, the host will tweet out the questions and they may be in the form of a graphic, or simply text, or both. The questions always begin with Q and a number (Example Q1) and include the hashtag. Answers to the questions should begin with A and include the corresponding number (Example A1) and of course, the hashtag.
Here’s what that might look like:
If you forget to add the hashtag, your tweet won’t be included in any search relating to the chat. If you’re really fast you can delete that tweet and send out another one with the hashtag, or just hit reply to yourself and put in the hashtag. The latter suggestion is not as good as the first in terms of being found later.
Some people like to respond by replying directly to the host’s tweet that had the question in it. That does make the thread cleaner, but it’s not necessary as long as you remember to add the hashtag.
It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over
After the chat is over and you’ve decided you’ve enjoyed the chat and the participants, this is a great time to follow them. You’ve made a connection, you obviously are interested in the same topic, and it’s an easy way to start building connections.
Twitter chats are a great way to network and create more brand awareness for yourself, but if they’re not for you, check out my post on 6 Effective Ways To Engage On Twitter. Engagement is key on all social media networks, so if you’re really serious about learning how to do it well, take a look at my course Conversational Twitter.
What Are You Waiting For?
If you’re a beginner, you can choose a Twitter chat that seems interesting to you and lurk and learn. Once you have a little confidence, then you can start engaging. If you’re already slinging tweets and hashtags around like a pro, Twitter Chats are a great way to network, become better known and ultimately become an authority in your niche.
Twitter Chat Tools
It’s easy enough to participate in a chat just by following the hashtag inside of Twitter. But if you really get into them, or find yourself in one that is super busy and you want to make sure you didn’t miss anything, you might want to follow the hashtag using something like Hootsuite, or Tweetdeck or TwChat.
If it’s the hashtagging part of a chat that makes you uncomfortable, take a moment to read the first chapter of my book on hashtags, for free!
Twitter Chat Calendar
I’ve started a calendar that lists the hashtags to follow and the time for some of the chats I like below. You can add this calendar to your own google calendar by clicking on the + button at the bottom right-hand side of the calendar below.
Do you have a favorite Twitter Chat that you think should be added to the calendar? Let me know by commenting below.
Before You Go
I’d love to know if you’ve ever participated in a Twitter chat before and if you did, did you enjoy it? Did you find it confusing? Do you have tips on making a chat better? Please comment below!