[Post updated 26/05/19]
Twitter chats can really rock! 🤘 Not only are they fun, they can also be an opportunity to informally learn something new too. If you choose your chats carefully, you can increase your visibility (blog post) and find like-minded people to connect with.
Twitter chats also provide a great opportunity to practice live tweeting and demonstrate your knowledge and experience whilst “thinking on your feet”. Although some chat hosts do publish questions in advance of a chat, I rarely check them out. I guess I enjoy the challenge of having to answer quickly and without preparation. 😄
When it comes to Twitter chats, what’s not to like? In fact, Twitter chats are one of the reasons Why I Love Twitter (blog post) ❤️
If you’re reading and thinking… “but Kirsten, I don’t really know what Twitter chats are, or how they work!”, read the next section. 😃 Otherwise, skip ahead to learn how you can make the the most of Twitter chats.
What are Twitter chats?
Twitter chats are facilitated and structured group discussions which take place live on Twitter, at scheduled times and usually last an hour. Popular Twitter chats take place weekly and are sometimes repeated through the week, to cater for different timezones. Each chat has its own hashtag (blog post) which everyone follows; this enables everyone to see Twitter chat questions and answers from everyone participating. We don’t have to follow each other in order to participate.
Sometimes there are multiple facilitators or a single host plus a guest co-host, who has some experience on the topic of the chat. This provides everyone with the opportunity to learn from an “expert” as well as learning from each other, which is great, because I’m an advocate for learning through information sharing and collaboration.
Twitter chat structure
Chats usually follow a structure of planned questions which are tweeted throughout the hour, with approximately 10 minutes between questions. This provides time for everyone to answer questions and comment on other people’s responses. The chat host(s) have time to interact with participants too.
Each question is tweeted and labelled with a number; here’s an example from one of my favourite chats (this chat has now been retired), #Bufferchat:
Notice the question is numbered (Q1) and the Twitter chat hashtag is included after the question (#bufferchat). Responses follow a similar structured approach. Here was my answer;
Notice that my response is labelled as A1 (A = answer, so A1 = answer to question 1) and also includes the hashtag #bufferchat. It’s not necessary to reply to the account posting the question, which is why I haven’t included @Buffer in my reply.
The chat continues following this format until the hour is up.
Tips to rock Twitter chats!
I’m breaking this down into two areas:
- Twitter chat etiquette
- How to rock your contribution
1. Twitter chat etiquette
Implementing the following will ensure your contribution to a Twitter chat is appreciated:
- Follow the chat rules and format.
- Avoid mentioning the host every single time you tweet.
- Stay on topic.
- Be polite and friendly to other chat members.
- Always use the Twitter chat hashtag appropriately e.g. during a chat, in the run up to a chat to alert people that you will be joining, and if you share a summary of the chat later.
- Do not be overly self-promotional. It’s ok to share a blog post you wrote as part of your reply to a question, providing it is relevant. Keep all self-promo to a minimum though. No-one likes spam.
2. How to rock your contribution
Being friendly, polite and following the chat rules, is a great start. But if you really want to get noticed and stand out, consider experimenting with the following;
- Share your photo e.g. some chats will begin by asking everyone where they are joining from. This is a great opportunity to share a picture of you and/or where you are tweeting from – so long as that picture is decent 😉 You might want to avoid being too specific about your location though, depending upon where you are and who you are with. Always be mindful of your personal safety, when you share your location online.
- Make use of emojis. They are fun, friendly and people like them.
- Find out the topic in advance and if it’s a topic you are confident about, or have experience with, identify some useful resources which you might be able to share during the chat. Remember, these shouldn’t all be your own resources, share as you would normally on social media.
- If it’s a lifestyle or travel chat, having some relevant photos (of your own, of course) can also help you to stand out in the feed. During travel-related chats, I always make use of some of my best and favourite travel photos.
- Everyone loves a story, so if you have a relevant story to share, which you can do so quickly and concisely (this is a Twitter chat, folks), then share away!
- Get your GIF on! Another example of multimedia which can add an element of humour to the chat and can be popular when someone joins a chat, to illustrate their excitement about joining. Yes, sometimes we get THAT excited about a Twitter chat! 😄
- Add your favourite Twitter chat members to Twitter lists (blog post). You can automate this by creating an IFTTT recipe, or you can manually add people. I have a Twitter List called #BufferLove for the #Bufferchat community.
- If you can find out the chat questions in advance of the chat and really want to make an impression, draft all your answers before the chat begins. You could also choose to create video responses, which will stand out in a busy Twitter chat feed; just remember, time passes quickly in a Twitter chat, so if you want people to engage with your video content, keep it as short as possible.
- Set up your web browser or login to your social media management account, in advance of the chat. You want to be able to monitor multiple feeds e.g. the main chat feed, your notifications (so you can keep up with responding to people who reply to your tweets) and the feed for the chat host (so you don’t miss questions, in popular and busy chats). Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter and is a great, free tool to monitor multiple feeds.
Find Twitter chats to join
There are a few resources which list a wide range of regular Twitter chats in different niches:
Do you have any favourite chats, or tips for making the most of them?
Let me know in the comments, below.