How Do I Do a Twitter Chat?
Have you heard yet about Twitter Chats? They take place on Twitter, on a recurring basis - e.g., often weekly although there are a few exceptions, on the same day and time of the week and address a set subject area. Although the theme will vary from chat to chat, if you are participating in a travel-related chat [e.g., #TNI - travelers night in], participants will have some connection to travel; if it's a horse chat [#horsechat], it will have something equine to it.
Each Twitter Chat is identified by a hashtag [e.g., #] and the name of the chat. When you participate in a chat, you create a search [via http://search.twitter.com or with a new search column in Tweetdeck] on the specific hashtag that identifies the Twitter Chat you want to participate in. As a result, you filter for Tweets related to that event. When the chat is over, you close the search.
Other tools are available, too, for keeping track of Twitter Chats. You'll find some listed in the Additional Twitter Chat Resources listed below. I've tried a few and keep coming back to my Tweetdeck search column. It's simpler...
This week, I participated in a MarketingProfs sponsored chat about location-based marketing identified as #Profschat. Many more take place every week. As of 12/16/10, this Twitter Chat spreadsheet lists 263 chats on a multitude of subjects. I guarantee you will find one relevant to you; once you do, simply 'show up' on Twitter on the specified date and time and prepared to track the relevant hashtag.
What I love most about Twitter Chats is that you automatically share a common interest with those participating - otherwise you wouldn't be taking part in the chat. As a result, you encounter people whom you will want to follow on Twitter. And vice versa. You also discover unexpected benefits as Beth Kantor describes in this post Twitter Chat as Pre-Survey for a Training.
Twitter Chats can be wild! Mack Collier's Sunday night #blogchat sets new records every chat for number of participants and tweets issued. Here is Mack's description of #blogchat with details. Others may be more structured with questions asked at regular intervals.
In terms of participation, you may decide to simply watch and learn the first time. Or, you may just dive in and ask questions. Each chat has its own personality. This post from Lisa Barone titled How to Participate in a Twitter Chat? offers good advice.
Sharon Mostyn from Motherhood, Marketing, and Medical Mayhem moderates #SMChat on Wednesdays from 1-2pm EST. She has also hosted #TNI [mentioned above - see Twitter Chats - Fantastic for Insights and Visibility]. Sharon knows the ins and outs of Twitter Chats. I caught up with her in May 2010 at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2010 in Boston and asked her about Twitter Chat best practices.
Here is what she detailed for me:
- Create a 'framing' post where you explain the purpose of the Twitter Chat and list the questions to be discussed. Sharon suggests 4 to 5 questions per topic.
- During the Twitter Chat, be prepared to ask one question approximately every 10 minutes. Mix open questions with agree/disagree questions.
- Start with introductions: ask everyone participating to introduce him/herself and state why each is taking part in the Twitter Chat.
- At the end of the chat, wrap up, say thanks. Be sure to thank all those who retweet during the Twitter Chat.
- Last step: post a recap with transcript of all the Tweets [using Wthashtag].
Thank you, Sharon!
I recommend that you try a Twitter Chat out. I think you'll be surprised at how vibrant the experience is and how much you learn.
Please, let me know how it goes and what you would add to this post to make it more helpful.
Additional Resources on Twitter Chats:
10 Steps to Creating a Successful Twitter Chat from Mack Collier
Twitter Marketing Tips: Twitter Chats and 8 Marketing & PR Chats To Follow from Lee Odden
4 Steps to Launching a Successful Twitter Chat from Steve Woodruff
13 Twitter chats every PR pro should follow from Petya Georgieva
Twitter tweet chats on the examining table: #HCSM [Healthcare Communications Social Media]
3 Reasons To Join a Tweet-chat from Patrick Barbanes - added 12/19/10
Wordle "How Do I" by C.B. Whittemore