Tuesday night I participated in a Twitter Chat hosted by PRSSA National. It was focused on developing a relationship between PRSSA and PRSA chapters. It was the second time I’ve participated in a Twitter Chat and each time I seem to enjoy it more and more. It is a fantastic way to connect with other Twitter users who are interested in the same topics you are. It’s fast moving and before you know it all the questions have been asked and you’ve learned a lot of great information. Needless to say, it inspired a blog post! This post will hopefully cover all of the basics of participating in a Twitter chat.
What is a Twitter Chat?
Twitter Chat allows for many people to discuss a certain topic in real time. They are scheduled events (although there are some that are ongoing). A certain hashtag is used for the chat. For example, in the PRSSA chat I participated in #prssa was the hashtag used. Anyone who wished to participate in the chat would use that hashtag in their Tweets. Usually, there is a moderator or two that asks questions based on the topic. Participants answer then answer the question. Generally, only one question is asked at a time. Depending on the number of participants, the chat can often move very quickly. There are tools that can be used to help keep up with the chat. I’ll get to that later in the post.
Why Participate in a Twitter Chat?
Twitter Chats have many advantages. First of all, there is a good chance you will be chatting with Twitter users that are interested in the same topics you are but that you don’t already follow (and users who don’t follow you). It provides an excellent way to network with Twitter users that are interested in the same areas you are. In the #prssa Twitter Chat I was able to chat with PRSSA members from around the country (and in Argentina). PRSA professionals also participated in the chat which is another major benefit. Often, experts on the topic will participate and share some great insight. It is a great way to brainstrom, receive advice and ask questions.
Step One: Finding a Chat
There are Twitter Chats out there for tons of topics. Anything from being a new parent, to looking for a job, to writing poetry and more. Here is an editable Google Doc of over 500 Twitter chats: Twitter Chats. You can also find out about Twitter Chats by following Twitter users who you are interested in. Often they will post information about upcoming chats.
Step Two: Set Up Your Twitter Profile
If you want other users in a Twitter chat to follow you you should be sure your Twitter profile is filled out. A photo and information in your profile will help immensely with gaining more followers. If participants can know what sort of Tweets to expect from you outside of the chat, they will be more likely to follow you.
Step Three: Get Acquainted With TweetChat.com
It is a good idea to visit TweetChat.com before your Twitter Chat. When you first visit the website, you will see that you have to allow Tweet Chat access to your Twitter account. When you link the two, you’ll find the background you have set for your Twitter profile will become the background for Tweet Chat, too. The next step is to put in the hashtag that you want to follow. Try to put in the hashtag “prssa”. When you do, you’ll see any tweets containing the hashtag #prssa will show up – even if they didn’t take place during the chat. Try putting in a couple of hashtags that you are interested in following.
The really cool thing about Tweet Chat is that it will automatically add the hashtag you are following to any Tweets that you send from that platform. It also automatically removes however many characters the hashtag takes up from your count. It makes it easy to keep up with the chat and you don’t have to constantly remember to add the hashtag. It also has a ‘pause’ feature that will pause the chat while you scroll down to view Tweets.
Step Four: Chat Away!
Once you find the next time for the Twitter Chat that you’re interested in, you are ready to chat. There are a few things you should know as you’re chatting. First of all, engage other participants. If you find a comment they made interesting, feel free to reply to them. You also are encouraged to Retweet any Tweets you find interesting. As you chat, remember users that you find particularly interesting or that you have engaged with and feel free to follow them if you want more insight.
Step Five: Follow Up With Connections You Made
It is a good idea to follow up with connections you made during your Twitter Chat. If someone retweeted or replied to a Tweet, shoot them a Tweet saying thank you. Follow anyone you found interesting and let them know you appreciated the information you shared. If a professional or expert participated in the chat, be sure to thank them for their time. Treat it as you would any other networking opportunity.
Have you participated in a Twitter Chat before? Share your thoughts in the comments below!