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Tweet Chat 101

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By Jill Kurtz
Online Career Tips Editor

Twitter chats or tweet chats are a fantastic way to bring people and ideas together, help grow connections, and grow relevance as a thought-leader. Twitter chats also facilitate knowledge sharing and engagement. If your target audience is active on twitter, this could be a great tool for you to generate conversation.

Twitter Chat Basics

A Twitter chat is a live event that takes place through Twitter at a specific time and uses a designated hashtag. The chat host poses questions and, with everyone using the designated hashtag as the common thread, people respond and create a productive conversation. The hashtag defines the topic and guides people to find the chat.

Guide To Engaging Tweet Chats

Start with a plan.

Identify your reasons for starting a tweet chat. Understand the target audience, so you can come up with the best techniques and issues to engage with the right people.

You may decide that you need to start your own chat or you may be well-served by finding a relevant chat to join. Use Twitter to search for relevant hashtags and, if there are related chats, you will see those pop up in the results.

Learn the process.

Get familiar with how a tweet chat works by joining Twitter chats. Find out how the moderator manages the conversations and the kind of information that makes the hashtag interesting. Pay attention to the uses of tagging, retweeting, and other techniques that bring in more people to the conversation.

You cannot benefit if you don’t participate, so get something relevant out in the stream. The goal is to offer meaningful contributions and use the power of the group to create the reach and awareness you’d never be able to recreate on your own.

Managing Your Own Chat

A chat is defined by a hashtag. The hashtag describes what the conversation is about in 2-3 words. The hashtag should be simple, short, and easy to remember.

[Related: Handling Negative or Inappropriate Social Media Comments with Style]

When hosting your own Twitter chat, you have to develop a style that will entice people to exchange ideas. You need to be prepared to ask questions and share information that will make the conversation lively and informative.

Provide summaries as the tweet chat continues. Also provide links, photos, and helpful media to keep the conversation interesting. Overall, the key to a successful and engaging tweet chat is to keep the information fresh and flowing.

It is also important to keep the chat focused, notes Al Hopper, cofounder of SocialPath Solutions and alumnus at American Public University. Al recommends two ways to keep chats focused:

  • Create a dedicated column or stream in your favorite social media management tool, such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, using the chosen hashtag. This acts as a way to filter out all other Twitter volume you may be watching at the same time.
  • Choose a dedicated web app. There are a few to choose from, one of my favorite is Twubs.com. You can register your hashtag there and create a virtual room for the chat to take place.

If you chat is related to an event, get started 2-3 weeks before the event to build a following. Always post original and unique content that will bring in more followers.

Be sure to follow the people who participate in the chats. If they follow back, you created a valuable relationship.

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