November 19th, 2012
by Leah Beatty
Want to know the secret to Twitter success? It’s simple: participate in Twitter Chats.
- Fast access to like-minded community (hello, target audience!)
- Great way to make friends, not just connections
- Sounding board for questions and ideas
- Stay current on industry trends and news
- Build your personal brand
At first glance, chats are often confusing and intimidating. Don’t let the hashtag fool you! After a few chats you will be a pro.
Here’s how to fake until you make it.
Twitter Chat 101
A good chat should have two things: a topic for discussion and a moderator.
- The topic should be promoted via the hashtag on Twitter a few days prior, so all participants know what to expect. (Many chats also have websites or blogs for chat archiving, and will post the chat questions.)
- A moderator is in charge of conversation flow and pace. They ask the questions and encourage conversation while keeping an eye on the clock.
If you aren’t sure how to wade into the tweeting waters, start small.
- Introduce yourself (name, position, location) and mention it’s your first chat. A chat pro will most likely Tweet you a warm welcome. They’ll also show you the ropes of the chat if you ask politely.
- Follow the moderator and the chat pros who welcome you to easily DM them questions about how the chat works if they follow you back.
- Remember, you don’t have to jump into the conversation until you’re comfortable!
- An easy way to participate is to RT Tweets from other chatters that you like, agree with and/or share good information. For example, “RT @lediamedia: A1 Britney Spears is a Living Legend, I agree #LivingLegendChat”.
- Another easy participation trick? Put your response before the RT.
For example, “She is inspiring RT @lediamedia: A1 Britney Spears is a Living Legend, I agree #LivingLegendChat”.
Don’t forget the hashtag! Pinky swear!
Chat hashtags are important for two reasons: it signifies your participation and ensures you show up in chat archive or recap posts.
- When responding to the question asked by the moderator i.e. the official chat topic question(s), use the letter ‘A’ followed by the question number, your response, and the chat hashtag. For example, “A1 Britney Spears is a Living Legend, I agree #LivingLegendChat”. This lets everyone know that your response is on topic
- Failure to use the A# tag in responses may mean your response will not be included in the official transcript or recap. Why this is important: part of personal branding is getting your name (and Twitter handle) out there for the world to see.
- When answering a fellow chatter’s mention or asking your own question, only use the chat hashtag. This lets participants know you are going off-topic.
Twitter Chat Pro Secrets
- After the chat is over, thank the moderator and anyone who RT or mentioned you.
- Anyone stand out in this week’s chat that you want to get to know better? Follow them and Tweet at them an open-ended question about this week’s chat. It’s the perfect icebreaker!
- Use Tweetchat.com to easily follow the chat and save you the hassle of typing the hashtag every time. You control how quickly the Tweet stream comes at you, so you can go at your own pace. Warning: the slower the refresh, the more delayed your responses will be.
Manager of Search Media Networking at Slingshot SEO, Leah Beatty is a Manager of Search Media Networking at Slingshot SEO. She has been featured in the PR News newsletter and published on Search Engine Journal, and is a foremost expert on Internet memes.