If you’re looking for a conversation on Twitter (and who isn’t?), get involved in a Twitter chat. In many fields, and especially communication, practitioners and academics use Twitter as a gathering space for discussion. Using a #hashtag, each user in a Twitter chat can contribute to a specific conversation and sort all posts with that hashtag to follow the discussion.
How to Participate
Participating in a Twitter chat is easy. Login to Twitter using a Twitter platform (like Tweetdeck or TweetChat) or your twitter page and complete a Twitter search for the chat’s hashtag. To add to the conversation, use the chat’s hashtag.
Guidelines for Twitter Chats
Through my participation in Twitter chats, I’ve compiled the following helpful tips:
- Know the topic. Twitter chats usually have moderators, topics, and specific questions for each chat. Part of staying involved in the chat’s conversation is staying in touch with upcoming topics and conversing with chat regulars outside of the chat.
- Read first. Contribute second. The chat moderator usually posts a question or topic and chat guests will begin with answers. Everyone in the chat is present to learn and contribute, so do both.
- Choose how to contribute. Use Twitter’s built-in links to shape your contributions:
- When responding to one participant’s tweet, begin with their @reply.
- Re-tweet excellent points for followers to read.
- When commenting on re-tweets, use a readable format. For example, I tweeted: Why I Tweet: http://bit.ly/b8aqcP. If another person chose to re-tweet it with a comment, the person might choose to format the tweet: Comment on the tweet. RT @JAMcArthur: Why I Tweet: http://bit.ly/b8aqcP . See an example here. This distinguishes the original tweet from the additional comment.
- Always use the chat’s #hashtag in your chat-related tweets.
- Use direct messages to engage participants outside of the chat.
- Know the rules for specific chats. For example, some chats have organizational tools that help connect questions and answers. New participants in a chat should take some time to read the tweets of others before jumping in.
- Stay on topic. The chat stream can become crowded and lively in any chat. Keep off-topic conversations out of the chat by using direct messages or @replies without the chat hashtag.
Twitter chats to note
Students and practitioners in integrated strategic communication might find these chats to be engaging:
- #prstudchat: PR students, educators, and professionals chat monthly.
- #brandchat: Conversations about branding every Wednesday at 11:00 am Eastern.
- #blogchat: Bloggers unite to cover best practices on Sunday nights at 9:00, Eastern.
- #smcedu: Discussions of social media in the classroom, Mondays at 12:30 pm, Eastern.
Know of other good chats? Comment here so I can check them out.
A comprehensive, modifiable list of ongoing Twitter chats across fields is available here: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=ruaz3GZveOsoXUOOt86B3AQ#gid=0