I’m a big believer in the power of Twitter as a networking tool. It’s an excellent way to create your own newsfeed, connect with professional heroes, and stay in touch with people in your industry. Consider Twitter a 24/7 conference.
One of my favorite ways to use Twitter is to participate in Twitter chats. Twitter chats are a great way to “meet” people who are interested in a certain topic, learn from industry veterans and influencers, and potentially, to share your own expertise and grow your followers.
Here are the tops things to know about Twitter chat etiquette and how to take full advantage of these online events.
Twitter chats are just like regular events…but on Twitter.
Twitter chats happen on a specific day at a certain time. They are usually an hour and are led by a person, company or organization. It’s up to that “host” to determine the style of the event. Some Twitter chats are open conversations around a certain topic, some have featured guests, and some plan out questions throughout the event to encourage focused conversation.
Twitter chats are organized by a hashtag.
When a Twitter chat is organized a hashtag is chosen as the method for organizing the conversation. Basically, you “follow” the hashtag to see what people are saying.
Don’t know what a hashtag is? Here’s a quick summary from Twitter’s help page:
- People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces or punctuation) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets and help them show more easily in a Twitter search.
- Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other tweets marked with that keyword.
- Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet – at the beginning, middle, or end.
- If you Tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet.
Twitter chat examples:
Twitter chats allow you to connect virtually with not just your peers but role models in your industry. Here, a chat attendee was able to get her personal questions answered by Aman Singh, VP Business + Social Purpose at Edelman, who was participating as a featured guest.
Often, the host of a Twitter chat will ask questions throughout the hour, indicated by Q and a number. Responses are indicated by A and that same number, so you can see what specific topic people are discussing.
The beauty of Twitter chats is that they live on the internet indefinitely. If you’re participating on-the-go, or aren’t able to ‘attend’ during the designated hour, you can always click the hashtag to come back to the tips, advice, and articles later.
Twitter Chats are a great way to learn. Listen more than you talk.
Just like in-person events, Twitter chats bring together people interested in a certain topic. And just like with regular events, it can be obnoxious to see one person dominating the conversation (unless that person in the host). Twitter chats are a great way to learn, so avoid over-posting. Occasionally post insightful questions, respond to people to ask them for details on a comment, say things like, “Yes, I agree!”, and of course, retweet people.
Twitter chats can be overwhelming. Use a tool to follow along.
Depending on how many people are participating, Twitter chats can be fast paced with a lot of tweets coming in at once. It can be difficult to follow along, let alone add your own input. To stay organized, use a tool that will help you see just a “stream” of tweets that include the event hashtag. Some will even automatically add the hashtag to your tweets for you. We recommend trying twubs, Hootsuite, nurph, or Tweetchat.
Twitter chats can annoy your followers, so use @ replies.
If you’re tweeting a lot in a short period of time, it could potentially cause people to “un-follow” you. To avoid annoying your followers (even if you just have a few) consider using mostly @ replies, i.e., beginning your tweets with usernames. People in the chat will still see your tweets if you use the hashtag, but your followers won’t. Learn more about @ replies here.
Do you have any tips for having a great Twitter chat experience? Any questions? Let us know in the comments.