I last posted on Twitter chats back in April in the post 5 Twitter Tips for Fundraisers. Since then, I’ve really stepped up my participation in Twitter chats, particularly
- #blogchat: primarily about blogging; occurs most Sunday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern
- #speakchat: Monday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern, a moderated chat about some aspect of speaking & conferneces
- #smNPchat: a bi-weekly chat every other Friday at noon Eastern on topics that pertain to small nonprofits, and
- #npcons: a monthly chat every 3rd Tuesday of the month at 1 p.m. Pacific time
I’m having a blast participating in them. Here are 5 tips I’ve learned to maximize your Twitter chat experience:
Get to know the system
Some chats are more structured than others. Look to see what the guidelines are before jumping in. Moderators often tweet the links 10-15 minutes before the official start time. #speakchat is highly structured, the moderator interviews a guest for 45 minutes. Only the last 15 minutes is open chat. On the other hand, #blogchat and #smnpchat are more open to participation by everyone.
Show up early
I seem to get the most out of chats when I check in 15 minutes early. I like the banter. Plus, you might be able to share your blog link or ask other questions that might not be appropriate during the actual chat.
Use a tool like TweetChat…and have multiple windows open
Chats move very quickly. So I normally have TweetChat, Hootsuite, and Twitter open in separate tabs.
I focus on TweetChat, but having the Twitter tab open to my “@mentions” helps me keep up with replies and retweets. As you can see in the example, Twitter nicely keeps a tally of your replies right in the tab. This really helps me interact with the people who are interacting with me. And finally, Hootsuite serves as another touch point to make sure I’m not missing questions or comments addressed to me. It seems that I always see replies in HootSuite that I didn’t see on TweetChat or Twitter.
Stay on topic…to a point
Moderators set the topic for each chat. It’s simply polite to stay on topic. There’s nothing more annoying than seeing someone drop in purely self-promotional spam that has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic of the night.
But with every rule, there are exceptions. As with any gathering of human beings, Twitter chats spin off sidebar conversations like swirling eddies in a stream. These can be particularly entertaining. They may be jokes about drink orders, or rants about something that came up in conversation, or anecdotes about each others avatar pictures. (I often get bowtie comments tweeted to me.)
While these eddies of conversation aren’t specifically “on topic,” they are moving with the flow of conversation. So I’d say go with it. Just don’t put spam into a chat’s tweet stream.
Just like a mixer, a Twitter chat allows you to meet new people. So if you see people that are saying interesting things, follow them. Keep the conversation and connection going outside of the chat times. (I’m finding Empire Avenue to be an interesting way to keep up with people I meet in chats.)
I’m really enjoying being part of these chats. They help me meet lots of new and interesting people. And they help me keep in touch with people I don’t normally interact with during the week.
Those are my five tips to maximize your Twitter chat experience. What would you add?
Great tips! Kudos to you!
I would add: Have your favorite drink ready before going into a twitter chat. It makes it more fun! Taking a sip of a good drink, can calm you down during the fast 140charachter pace of a fasten your seat belt…fast speed of highly participated twitter chat.
RT @oprah: Nothing, wishing I had a Moscow Mule right about now #OprahLiveTWet @NoirBlancDesign What are you drinking @Oprah while tweeting live?
The following weeks Oprah always tweeted what she was pouring. Twitter chats are for learning, sharing, inspiring, building your marketing presence, educating, and fun.
Thanks for these tips. I tried to join in on a Twitter chat about a year ago, but found that I just couldn’t keep up. Maybe it’s time to try again – with the help of these idea. Thanks!
Please do try again! I did #blogchat a couple years back and left for the same reason. I find it helps to have some sort of beverage near by and a good show on the TV. 🙂
Excellent thoughts Marc.
Thx for posting the link the the Twitter Chat Schedule in your previous post.
Hosts may also find http://twebevent.com useful as a tool to host a landing page for their chat.
A lot of organizations talk about reaching new audiences through Twitter, but there isn?t a lot of information on how to sustain those conversations. Thanks for the tips!
I like http://twebevent.com, but I use http://chattagged.com for really busy Twitter chats. It allows me to place the moderator and mentions in one column (or anybody else I want) and everyone else in another column. Plus, I can turn-off retweets. These two features make it much easier to follow a fast moving stream.
Thanks for that tip! I’ve checked it out briefly and really like what I see!