Have you participated in a Twitter Chat? If not, you’re missing out. Twitter chats have a number of benefits, including:
If you’re new to chats, here’s some information about how to find and participate in them, with a few tips for getting the most out of them.
Twitter chats are discussions that happen in Twitter, via hashtags. People meet online in Twitter at a specific time and use a specific hashtag, such as #solopor or #blogchat. Usually, chats are an hour long and have a facilitator, who may provide questions that people discuss in the chat.
One great resource is this spreadsheet that shows Twitter Chats by subject and gives you the day, time, and hashtag, among other information.
There are a few ways to do it. You can use Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, or another client, or even the Twitter UI. In a client, create a stream/column using Search to search on the hashtag. For example, if you’re participating in #blogchat, create a column based on a Search for #blogchat. If you don’t already have one, create a column for @ replies to you, as well. In Twitter, you can open Twitter in multiple windows/tabs. Do a hashtag search in one window, and use the other to view your mentions.
Once the chat starts, you watch for the facilitator to tweet the topic or questions. Then, respond by tweeting your answer and ending with the chat’s hashtag, such as #blogchat. Including the hashtag makes sure the tweet shows up in everyone’s chat search.
Another alternative is to participate through a service such as TweetChat.com or the new ChatTagged.com. You login with your Twitter handle, and then enter the chat’s hashtag in the search box. TweetChat or ChatTagged displays the chat, automatically updating as new tweets come in. They allow you to tweet and reply to tweets in the chat. Best of all, they automatically postpend the hashtag, so you don’t have to type it.
If you use TweetChat, you’ll still want open a Twitter window with Mentions displaying, so you can more easily see replies just to me. ChatTagged does this for you, displaying a separate window with mentions.
That’s ok. This isn’t like a real world conversation, or even an IM session. You won’t read every tweet in the chat. Read what you can or what catches your eye, and respond as you can. People often go off on little side threads, discussing an answer in greater detail by replying all, while using the hashtag. Keep an eye on your mentions so you can see when someone is replying to something you’ve said.