TwitterChats: What They Are and How to Participate

TwitterChats are real-time conversation events on Twitter, where usually one to three people host the Chat posing questions to those participating and then people respond to the questions and interact with each other about the topics the Chat is covering. TwitterChats are generally held on a repeating basis each week or month. There are all kinds of TwitterChats surrounding many, many topics.

Joining in and participating in TwitterChats is a great way to network, build relationships with others, including social-media and industry influencers, gain insight on topics, and build your brand, whether it be your personal brand and/or your business brand.

Participating in TwitterChats and chatting with others real-time week after week builds relationships quickly and builds lasting relationships if you continue each week. It builds connections and helps others get to know each other on a deeper level than in regular Twitter interactions.

People involved in TwitterChats are generally people who are connected, want to connect, are social online (and offline), and tend to have great connections with people, concepts, ideas, and communities.

There are a few things to keep in mind when participating in TwitterChats in order to get the most out of the Chat as well as have fun.

Participate, Share and Connect. Show up on time and answer each question. Make sure to use the proper format so everyone can follow along. Always include the #hashtag for the Chat in each answer tweet and tweet during the Chat as well as use the correct answer tag. For example, if you are responding to Question 1 tagged as Q1, you would start your tweet with Answer 1 or A1: and then include your answer.

In answering questions, think before you Tweet and share things that are thoughtful, funny, helpful, inspiring, and that show your personality. Steering things off topic, tangents, or otherwise displaced answers will only reflect on you poorly. However, clever, witty, and even humorous answers are good and can spur the conversation beyond answers to the hosts’ questions.

Beyond your own tweets, you will want to most definitely show some love to the other people chatting by favoriting others’ tweets you like and/or agree with and responding to others’ answers, comments during the chat. If there are answer tweets that you disagree with and/or want to add something to, be sure to do that in a tactful and helpful way. Lastly, if the other people who are participating are those whom you would like to know more about or connect with, you should also follow them.

It’s one thing to answer every question in a TwitterChat. It’s an even better thing to interact with others in the group, connect and actually CHAT.

Be ready. TwitterChats move quickly! When participating in TwitterChats, you will quickly notice that they move quickly. This especially happens with Chats that have a large group and have been meeting up for some time. If this is the case, be ready to fire off your answers and connect with others quickly. There are probably a lot of tactics and ways to do this, but a few that I’ve found helpful are:

  • Remove other distractions and be ready to dedicate 30 to 60 minutes to the chat. Some chats are shorter and some are longer, but the average is 60 minutes.
  • As soon as the host posts a question, be ready to respond immediately and then start to review and comment/respond to others’ responses. The host usually leaves time for responses and conversation and then goes onto the next question. Understanding the flow is very helpful and get keep you on track.
  • In searching the Chat’s hashtag during the Chat, make sure to choose ‘All Tweets’ instead of just seeing the default ‘Top’ tweets results. This way you can see everyone’s tweets who are participating in the Chat, and all tweets that are tagging with the chat’s hashtag.
  • Set up two workstations. I’ve even been known to be at my computer while chatting and have my laptop next to me as to be able to follow along with all the tweets in the Chat and be able to post mine from my computer. I know this is a little extreme but it works, for me!

Return to the chat repeatedly and be consistent! In order to make meaningful connections and build relationships over time, it’s important to participate in the Chat more than once, and be consistent with returning and participating in the Chat each week/month. I must admit…this is hard for me, and I’m not terribly good at this myself! However, if you find Chats that are super important to you and your business, make a calendar and carve out time! Set it aside like you would for a meeting or another important task in your business. The other thing to keep in mind though too is that you can’t and won’t consistently participate in all if you try to be in every chat. Do some research, find the most relevant to you, and commit to those!

Find Chats. There are several ways to find TwitterChats. You could simply search on Twitter for chats in your industry. However, that may take some time. Here are a few resources I’ve found to be helpful. Of course, these are not exhaustive and more Chats surface every day so you will have to be curious and participate on Twitter with people in your industry to find those that may not appear in these lists.

TwitterChats are a great way to connect with others on Twitter, get to know more about them, and build relationships. It’s also a great way to lend your thoughts and voice to a topic and build your brand!

If you have yet to find a TwitterChat and/or participate in one, I challenge you to do so and let me know how it goes!

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