If you’ve spent any time on Twitter, you’ll know that hashtags are the beating heart of content curation.
By marking a tweet with a particular hashtag, you identify it as a message relating to a particular topic.
And this idea has sparked another great idea – the Twitter Chat.
What is a Twitter Chat?
A Twitter Chat is an event that takes place at a specified day and time (usually for one hour per week), where everyone who wants to be involved can do so – by using the official Twitter chat hashtag.
For example, every Monday evening between 8pm and 9pm (UK time), there is a Twitter chat called #StockportHour.
During this hour, local businesses, community groups, and interested residents, come together to chat all things related to Stockport.
What are the benefits?
In the #StockportHour example, there are real benefits on offer to local businesses.
The Twitter chat allows them the opportunity to virtually network with other local businesses, increase engagement on their social media, and make new connections.
The locality of the hashtag keeps the chat focused on local issues and events.
What other types of Twitter Chat are there?
In short, as many as you can think of.
They’re not all related to a specific town, city, or county.
Often they’re related to an interest, profession, or any other common interests you can imagine.
We’re pretty heavily involved in digital marketing (in case you hadn’t noticed), and we’re massive fans of a product called Buffer.
It’s always a really well run event, and covers a different topic each week. Check out their schedule here.
Etiquette and Rules of Twitter Chats
Each chat will have its own set of rules, but as a general guide, keep these in mind:
1. Don’t forget to use the hashtag in EVERY tweet!
Without doubt, this is the number one mistake we see – time after time.
It’s the hashtag that brings all the messages together, so add it to every message you write (yes, even if you’re replying to a specific tweet).
2. Treat it as a social event, not a sales pitch
Generally, Twitter chats are about talking around a particular topic – and not about a hard sell.
Don’t go in hard with a sales pitch.
Instead, approach it as a social event – and have normal conversations, like a normal human being.
3. If there are official questions, don’t answer with the letter Q
Ok, this one needs a bit of explaining.
Often, the chat organiser will ask a series of questions to stimulate discussion and keep the chat moving.
When they post a question, they normally give it a number, like this:
Q1. What social media tools are essential for your work? #ImpactChat
Then, if you want to answer this, you’d write the following:
A1. Definitely @buffer for us. It’s awesome. #ImpactChat
Q for “question“, and A for “answer“. Dead easy.
But – trust me – there’s always a few in every chat that use Q1 on their answer.
And that’s just gonna confuse everyone.
Don’t be *that* guy.
Oooh, #ImpactChat! Is that an actual thing?
No. I just made it up.
Oh, ok. Well, what tools should I use to take part in a Twitter chat?
Firstly, you’re gonna find this whole thing MUCH easier on a laptop browser than on a mobile app.
They’re normally fast paced, so you’re gonna want a full keyboard at your disposal.
Here’s one suggestion, just using the standard Twitter.com interface:
- Open up a browser window, and search for the hashtag name of the twitter chat.
- Click on “Latest”, so you see a rolling feed of all the tweets in real time.
- Open a new browser window, and open another instance of Twitter.
- Navigate to your notifications page.
- Use both these windows side-by-side to keep track of the chat.
That’s a bit dull. I thought you were gonna give me some kick ass tools to use.
Ah, go on then.
Two kick ass tools you should know about:
The stronger of the two tools, in my opinion – log in using your Twitter account, and you can participate in the chat live from the same window.
Better still, you can choose to highlight certain participants, to make it easier to navigate.
Here’s a screenshot of the #BufferChat hashtag (not during the chat itself), showing the interface with highlights:
A great little alternative, again allowing you to sign in and participate from the browser window. Here’s another screenshot of the #BufferChat hashtag:
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