I don’t know about you, but I’m hooked on Twitter! I find it to be a super quick and fun way to not only express myself online but also gain valuable insight on topics important to me and connect with people who share my similar interests. Recently I started expanding my Twittersphere by participating in several different Twitter chats which has provided me great opportunities to meet new people, grow my following and broaden my discovery zone on specific topics.
In case you are not familiar, a Twitter chat is basically where users gather on Twitter at a scheduled time to have a topic-driven conversation in real time. The conversation or “chat” is given a hashtag, which is an online marker that enables participants to identify the chat thread and participate.
I must admit the first time I joined a Twitter chat I was a bit intimidated and not quite sure the proper way to participate. So in an effort to help ease the apprehension of other Twitter chat newbies, I pulled together 6 of my best tips on how to participate in a Twitter chat.
- Introduce Yourself: To make the most of your Twitter chat experience you should definitely introduce yourself when arrive in the chat. You can do this even if you just plan to listen.
- Use the hashtag: Again every chat has a designated hashtag so that participants can follow the conversation. It is common practice to continue using the hashtag on an ongoing basis as chat hashtags have been known to take on a life of their own. For instance, those of us who regularly participate in the monthly #flkeys chat often use the hashtag to continue conversing outside of the chat.
- Stay on Topic: The most important thing for a participant to remember is to stay on topic. Most chats will have a predetermined topic and questions. It can really throw off the rhythm of a chat if someone starts throwing out questions that are not part of the theme. If you have off-topic questions, it is best to wait until after the chat and ask the host.
- Be prepared: It helps to find out the specific theme or topic of the chat ahead of time so you can be prepared with information, stories, links and photos to share. If you can focus on helping others on the chat it will go a long way toward improving your influence and positioning yourself a trusted resource.
- No spam: The biggest breach of etiquette you can make on a Twitter chat is to pop in and try to sell or promote something. Chats are communities not a place to peddle your wares.
- Use Chat Software: Using a third party Twitter management software like TweetDeck or better yet, TweetChat, will definitely make your participation on a Twitter Chat easier. On TweetChat, just enter the chat hashtag and the feed will quickly populate with the conversation. When you post a comment, the designated hashtag will automatically be added to your Tweet.
Prior to putting together this post, I asked Claudia Miller, aka @KeysClaudia and the co-founder/co-host of the popular #flkeys chat, her thoughts on Twitter chats. She said she finds the most rewarding part about participating in Twitter chats is the ability to make friends from all over the world with similar interests. She finds it to be the perfect place to share her experiences and learn from the experiences from others. When asked how she would describe participating in a Twitter chat, I think Claudia summed it up perfectly. “Twitter chats are like going to a cocktail party without having to worry about what to wear.”
If you follow these simple tips you should be enjoying the many benefits of Twitter chats in no time. However, if have a Twitter chat question not covered here, please feel free to ask it in the comments below. If you are reading this and you already have some Twitter chats under your belt, I welcome any other tips you may want to offer.