How to participate correctly in a Twitter chat

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Twitter chats are the latest thing. It’s quite possible to participate in a handful every day. But that’s probably not a good use of anyone’s time. Participating in the right ones though has many benefits.

Also, they are great marketing tools, when done right.

What’s a Twitter chat?
A Twitter chat is a somewhat structured conversation on Twitter around a topic that’s relevant to a particular community.

Participants follow the discussion through a hashtag.

The host of a chat often has prepared questions that participants or guest experts answer. Some chat hosts blog about the chat ahead of time to get people thinking about it and the questions that will be asked.

Benefits of Twitter chats
Twitter chats are a great way to share information around a shared topic of interest.

Twitter chats allow participants to interact with other people whom they may not know, yet.

They offer real-time interactions with people. They also allow participants to connect with new people even after the chat has ended.

Chats typically stick to a specified time period. When a chat is from noon to 1, it will end at 1. Of course, people can continue chatting with others from the chat even after 1, but the official chat is done. That’s important because it gives you a stopping point – which in a never ending social media world can often be hard to come by.

Downfalls of Twitter chats
They can go so fast that it’s hard to keep up on everything. Really, there’s no need to keep up on everything. Keep up on what you can catch.

Best practices for participants
Don’t retweet too much. Others are already watching and RTs can clog up an already fast-moving stream.

Many questions don’t have right or wrong answers. Make points clearly and succinctly. Edit before tweeting.

Respect other people’s opinion. It’s OK to ask about Tweets, though. “What do you mean by that?” “How do you know that?”

Share your expertise.

Keep links to a minimum. Yes, you may have a great blog post on that topic, but most people in the chat won’t click that link now. They are busy with the Tweet chat.

Talk. A lot. As long as you have something to add to the topic, keep talking. There’s no rule that you can only tweet once per question. Twitter does sometimes temporarily freeze accounts that are super fast tweeters. This has never happened to me, though.

Respond to people. People might ask a question after reading your tweet. Please respond. Don’t forget to tag them.

My Top Twitter chats to participate in (all times CST):

#CMWorld – Tuesdays at 11 a.m- Content marketing

#hcsm – Sundays at 8 p.m. – Healthcare and social media

#blogchat – Also Sundays at 8 p.m. – Blogging tips

#socialchat – Mondays at 8 p.m. – Social media topics

#peopleskills – Sundays at 9 a.m. – Working with people.

#mmchat – Mondays at 7 p.m. – Marketing topics

#mediachat – Thursdays at 9 p.m. – social media

#tchat – Wednesdays at 6 p.m. – talent engagement

Twitter chats can help us make new connections and share our expertise in a structured way.

Brands and people can also start new chats based on need and interest.

Who owns a hashtag? Nobody, but once a community is assembled around one, that community can claim somewhat of an ownership.


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