It never fails. Each week during a regularly-scheduled Twitter chat in which I participate, someone (usually someone new to the chat) comments about how difficult it is to “keep up” with the fast pace of the posts.
I admit that participating in online chats can be a dizzying at first, but the information you gain and the relationships you build from the chats make them worth a bit of head spinning.
Tips for participating in a Twitter-based chat:
1. Find the chat in which you’re interested
These typically are identified by a hashtag (#name) and occur at a scheduled time each week. My favorites are #blogchat (8 p.m. CST Sundays) and #prodchat (7 p.m. CST Wednesdays), although I honestly could name a chat or two I enjoy every night of the week. Not sure about chats you like or when they’re scheduled? Here is a huge list to help you get started.
2. Follow the person hosting the chat
This is a good way to remind yourself that the chat is happening and a good place to “ground” the chat once it gets started. For those of you interested in my favorites, Mack Collier hosts #blogchat and Ray Sidney-Smith hosts #prodchat.
3. Understand the chat’s rules
The person hosting the chat typically will remind you of the rules and that chat’s topic about an hour to 30 minutes before the chat begins. You also many times can find them on websites linked to the chat host’s page. Be a good chatter and follow the rules.
4. Introduce yourself when it’s time
One of the best things about participating in Twitter chats is meeting people with the same interests as your own. When it’s time to introduce yourself, give your name and a short description of your blog and a link to your URL.
5. Use the chat’s hashtag
Put the hashtag at the end of every post or response you send during the chat. This helps others get involved in the conversation or answer your questions. If you don’t do this, no one will realize you’re attempting to participate.
6. Pick a Twitter client to follow the chat
I often use regular Twitter because I chat from my iPhone. I simply click on the hashtag in the first post that contains it. I just keep reading from there. If I lose track, I find the most recent post with the hashtag and click it again. Other Twitter clients to consider at TweetDeck and Twubs.
7. Don’t forget to check your mentions (@)
This is where people will ask you questions or answer yours. You should have conversations with them. It’s the best thing about the chat. In between the conversation, click back on the chat’s hashtag to catch up the best you can.
8. It’s ok to miss things
You won’t read every Tweet during a Twitter-based chat. Don’t worry about it. Not all Tweets are meant for you or are beneficial to you. Just keep up the best you can and get the most out of your experience.
9. Don’t forget to follow
After the chat ends, don’t forget to go back and follow those bloggers whose information really helped you or who share your interests. You may even want to reach out then and thank them for their insight during the chat. If you follow them, they probably will return the favor, helping you build your network.
10. Read the transcript if necessary
Most chat hosts will post a transcript at the end of the chat. This is the most boring, passive way to “participate” in chats, but it’s better than not gaining any knowledge.
As a bonus, maybe my best advice about Twitter chats is to suck it up for the first few chats until you get used to the pace.
Ready to chat? Perhaps I’ll see you there!