Top Tips for Taking Part in Twitter Chats
Twitter is designed for communication, and one of my favourite ways to engage with other like-minded users is through Twitter chats. These chats happen using one dedicated hashtag and typically cover a specific topic, mostly lasting for an hour. There are hundreds of chats on the go nowadays, covering a vast range of topics and industries. To join in, all you need to do is tweet about the topic or respond to the host’s questions using the hashtag so that your tweet can be seen in the general thread of the chat.
The best way to view the chat is by searching the hashtag and ensuring that your results are set to show “Latest” tweets as opposed to “Top” so that you’ll be able to see each message as it’s published. There are a whole host of tools out there for Twitter chats, but I much prefer to use the actual Twitter website when getting involved. This is purely personal preference as I like to be able to refresh the timelines at my own speed, so I tend to open pages in new tabs and flick between them as needed. I typically have a tab for my notifications - so I can see who's chatting to me - a tab for the hashtag - so I can keep up with everyone else's tweets - and a tab for the chat host so that I can keep an eye on the questions as they come in.
Tweetdeck offers a much more streamlined version of this, as you can choose your columns to show on just one screen as opposed to flipping through individual tabs. It automatically updates these columns in real time, which can also be turned off if you struggle to keep up with it when things get going. Other useful tools include websites such as TweetChat, Tchat and Nurph, but it all just boils down to personal preference.
The most important part of Twitter chats is the engagement. Interaction is key when getting involved, in fact, it's kind of the whole point. Sure, you can go in and just tweet whatever you want, but if you want to make it work then you need to encourage interaction! This doesn't just apply to your own tweets, because as nice as it is to get a few retweets or a reply, it's also great to build relationships with other people too. Keep an eye on the hashtag and reply to tweets that catch your eye, strike a conversation, follow some new people - it makes a big difference. Try to keep these newfound relationships up after the chat too, you never know who you might meet.
As in the real world, it's important to be polite and respectful when chatting. People will always have different opinions, but if you're clashing with someone on a particular topic then try to approach it in a less abrasive way, or take it to a private communication instead of allowing the world to see your bickering in public.