It seems that there is a Twitter chat for everything these days. The problem, of course, is that the Twitter platform is terrible for having a coherent exchange of ideas. However, once you get used to it, you often get a lot out of the chats. If nothing else you meet some great new contacts on Twitter. But you still may be wondering how to participate in a Twitter chat. (If you are a pro skip to the 5 Best Practices).
In order to participate you need a Twitter account and some kind of search program to keep up with the action. I usually add a search column in my TweetDeck program with the hashtag to keep up. You can also use the Twitter Search function – just enter the hashtag as a search term.
What is a hashtag you ask? A hashtag is some text that is preceded by the pound sigh (#hashtag) appended onto the end of the Twitter message that allows a group of people, who aren’t necessarily following each other, to engage in a conversation.
A nifty service called “What the Hashtag” has definitions of many of the hashtags that are in common use. You can also check out a recap and transcript of the most recent chat about SEO and blogs as an example of what goes on in these things.
Here are some of my favorite chats:
HEALTHCARE COMMUNICATION: or if you are into health care you can chat with #hcsm with @danamlewis also on Sunday nights from 8-9 CT
5 Twitter Chat Best Practices
- Relevance: Only use the hashtag on posts that directly pertain to the topic set out by the moderator. If you start a side conversation with someone in the chat drop the hashtag
- Spam Free: Do not flog thy wares or ask people to support you in a competition during the chat, this is bad form
- Links: Feel free to share links to your own posts if they directly pertain to the topic at hand, but be judicious in how many you give
- More Links: Link to other’s work and make recommendations to others in the chat to follow people that have expertise in the area being discussed, they might even show up to participate if you call them out
- Retweet Sparingly: Only Retweet, or resend posts that would be of broad interest to your followers. Be sure to add enough context to these Retweets so as not to be confusing to those not participating in the chat
Share Your Best Practices and Tools
Now it is your turn, share your tips for participating in a chat. Here are some questions to get started.
· What tools and techniques do you use when you participate in a chat?
· What are your favorite chats?
· What would you add or change about the Twitter Best Practices?