Participating in or hosting a Twitter chat can be an incredible way to bring a community of like-minded individuals together to delve deeper into a chosen topic, or industry of interest. Having these discussions, often in very real-time, can be a great way to work through any issues the industry or niche may be dealing with, or just a great way to create more interest in a product or about an event.
Twitter Chat Characteristics
A Twitter chat can have a few elements in common.
Reoccurring– Some chats, most certainly those set up for business meetings, will occur regularly. Sometimes on a weekly or monthly basis.
Scheduled Events – Some users will set up an event ahead of schedule and share that events hashtag so that when the time comes, users can participate simply by searching and hashtagging posts.
Preset Hashtags – There are many pre-determined hashtags already in use on Twitter that make it easy to type it into the search bar and read all of the available tweets on that topic. This is also a great place to find like-minded followers.
Moderated – There can be moderated Twitter chats where one account will usually lead a discussion while posing questions to other followers of that discussion during the duration of the chat. The issue here is anyone can jump in and cause havoc.
Viral Chats – Someone will take your conversation and keep pushing it out there, this can be good or bad and it’s the turning point in social media. At this point your just a facilitator and others have taken the message, conversation, or brand and started to run with it. If you maintain your role as a facilitator and support those sharing the message you want you be able to redirect the conversation into the direction you want.
There are hundreds of currently regular scheduled Twitter chats every week. Check out a link to the running list of current Twitter chats and get familiar with the process by attending one that you may enjoy.
Participating in Twitter Chats
If you plan to participate in Twitter chats you will want to keep a few rules of etiquette in mind.
- Get familiar with the chats ground rules and don’t be afraid to help any moderators enforce them if needed or asked. Chat can thrive if everyone stays an active, helpful part of it.
- You don’t have to participate. It is okay to observe the questions and answers of others. If you don’t feel careful speaking up early on, you may always feel more comfortable and confident once you have spent a few chats watching and becoming more familiar with the flow and the followers.
- Don’t be afraid to let participants know that you are new. Not only might it remind them to reiterate for you, but it will also explain to them why you may need deeper definitions than others on some subjects.
- Answer any moderator questions and help to contribute to the chat and the opinions and engagements with others. Feel free to retweet or share any helpful content you receive.
- Pay close attention. It can be easy to confuse who is addressing who and for that reason you should really understand the chat you plan to participate in. Feel free to research any hashtags ahead of time and you may get a better idea of what you can take away from a Twitter chat.
Moderate Your Own Chat
As with participation, there are a few important elements to keep in mind if you are preparing to moderate your own Twitter chat.
- Most importantly, you should start as above and observe other Twitter chats first. This way you will get a sense of what works, and what does not, for other moderators.
- Identify and prepare for any existing issues you plan to discuss. Keep a written or text document with a short description of items you plan to cover. This will help prompt you to keep a flow of chat going while also giving you a plan to run your chat by. Part of your preparation for your Twitter chat will be to have your content, links or other relevant media ready to go when you get the best time you feel to share it. Try to produce a tweet, link, video, or question at least every 10 minutes to keep a good flow on the chat.
- Make sure Twitter chatters have understanding of your ground rules. If need be, keep an off Twitter content link to these rules and share them before each chat begins so new viewers can get in touch with what is expected of them.
- Be prepared for destructive participants. Have a plan in place for helping to redirect important discussion in case the topic gets lost under off-topic discussion or even heated argument.
- Be neutral. It is important for the moderator to remain neutral. Although one should feel free to inject their opinion on a matter, they should do so minimally and to keep chatter flowing as opposed to interjecting personal opinion that alienates one side or the other.
- Above all else, think of yourself as the facilitator that might have to play devil’s advocate. If the conversation is a handful of people that all agree with each other and comments and thoughts that go un challenged or inspired you’ll lose the potential the chat has.
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About Basil Puglisi
@BasilPuglisi is a Content Contributor and the Chairman of the Board for Digital Ethos. Basil C. Puglisi is also the Digital Marketing Manager for PMG Interactive. As the Digital Marketing Manager he provides oversight and support to Digital Campaigns, from Website Development to Search and Social Reach.