Twitter chats can be a valuable tool for learning, networking and sharing ideas – but they do take some strategy. Here are five tips for getting the most out of Twitter chats.
1. Know your hashtag.
Each Twitter chat has its own hashtag. Many have the word “chat” in the hashtag, such as #blogchat and #edchat. But others do not – especially those chats that pop up infrequently or without a set schedule.
It is essential to know what hashtag your chat is using well before it kicks off. This way, you won’t be scrambling around in Twitter search while other participants are introducing themselves and starting the discussion.
It can also be a good idea to search for additional hashtags that the chat community uses often, and keep these in a list during the chat. If your tweet overlaps with another hashtag, include it as well as the chat hashtag to earn more exposure.
2. Don’t stress.
Twitter chats move quickly, and can be overwhelming for new participants.
You may find, especially during your first few chats, that the tweets you send seem a bit delayed. People have already moved onto a new topic by the time you get an idea in.
The worst thing you can do during a Twitter chat is stress about how quickly it moves. This will only throw you off even more, and it may discourage you from participating in future chats. Instead, know that everyone who was once new to Twitter chats went through the same rite of passage, and that all it takes is time to become used to the fast pace.
3. Have real conversations.
Twitter chats are a great place for you to share your knowledge with a like-minded community. But don’t forget to recognize other members’ contributions as well.
Some of the best interactions in a Twitter chat happen thanks to retweets and replies. You can not only participate in the larger group chat, but you can have side conversations with other participants as well.
4. Use a chat tool.
Tools like HootSuite and TweetChat allow you to set up a stream so that you only see the tweets sent using a chat’s hashtag. This will put blinders on to the rest of the Twitter-verse, so you can focus on the chat.
Nearly everyone who participates in a Twitter chat realizes that Twitter.com just won’t cut it, and searches out a dedicated tool. Get ahead of the game and set up your tool well before your first chat starts.
5. Be grateful.
Twitter chats are not easy to run. They take a lot of planning and thought to be successful. Your organizer might have brought a guest on board, or put together questions to keep things moving at a nice clip.
At the end of any chat, it is polite to thank the organizer for their efforts. Chats are a community event, and only work if the community supports them. A simple thank you can go a long way in validating the organizer’s hard work, and giving them the momentum for the next chat.