How to Take Part In a Twitter Chat

Everyone wants to know how to put on a Twitter chat these days. Not that I am surprised; tweet chats are a great way to engage users, have a discussion and enjoy a conversation with others of similar interests. When you have a large follower base on Twitter, it only makes sense to begin utilizing this tool to communicate with it.

What you don’t see as often is a guide to participating in one. Twitter chats are still a relatively new concept, and knowing the ‘rules’ to follow when taking part can be difficult. Not all chats have etiquette they expect to be followed, and those that do can vary in their expectations. Then there are other issues, like how to find a Twitter chat, how to keep up with one and how to post to it in the first place.

But I have some good news for you: it isn’t hard to take part in a Twitter chat. Here is a quick guide.

Finding a Chat

The easiest way to find a Twitter chat is just to check the website, blog or Twitter account you enjoy and see if they have one. There should be some kind of an announcement saying when it will be. But this relies on whether or not they have one at all, and so you might find yourself having to go to other sources within that niche that hold them.

You can find huge lists of tweet chats that are broken down into niche/category. But I normally choose to go to two different master lists, one on is here, the other on TweetReports. The list on TR is just alphabetical, unfortunately, but it is very helpful if you aren’t too pick about topic. The list on Wikipedia is better for searching, and you can see them based on day they are held, alphabetical or by subject.

How to Follow a Chat

Twitter chat

All Twitter chats are going to be organized by hashtag. But their live update feed isn’t as useful for following the conversation as you might think, and it can help to use a third party monitor for that hashtag for the duration of the chat.

Any social media dashboard will do. But my favorite (free!) options are Twitter Chat and TweetGrid. You can watch the chat in a unique way, and post using the same hashtag to take part in the conversation.

Proper Twitter Chat Etiquette

Twitter Etiquette

The first step is to check and see if they have their own listed rules for the chat. Most will, and there will be moderators to ensure all rules are followed. But whether there is a set of guidelines or not, here are some ways you should always behave:

  • Be mindful of their schedule. Twitter chats are only a certain amount of time long. In that time, the holders of the chat will have an itinerary. If there is a guest speaker then the itinerary will be even more strict to give everyonenst the time set for each segment.
  • If you come late, read back. If you come into the chat when it has already been in session, that is just fine. They are happy to see you any time. But don’t ask people what they have been talking about, or start chatting before you know what has been covered. Scroll through the past tweets and catch up before you start speaking.
  • Introduce yourself. Whether you are there right at the beginning or near the end, remember that you are joining in a conversation. Offer a quick, one-tweet introduction and say hello.
  • Don’t start fights. This should be obvious, but a lot of times the conversation can get heated. A bit of healthy debate or disagreement can be fine. But it should be limited to a certain amount of discussion time, and it should never be rude or get personal. If you want to continue a debate for more than a few tweets, take it to PM.
  • Only contribute something real. This is not like a traditional chatroom. Those logs are going to stay there for awhile, and be readable by anyone who searches out the hashtag or just views your feed. So don’t treat it like an old school chat with endless, pointless comments. You should make sure what you tweet as part of the conversation is relevant and helpful.

Have some tips for participating in a Twitter chat? Let us know in the comments.

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