Chatrooms are so ten years ago. Everything has become much more reliant on social media, and for good reason. It is a more direct form of engagement, easier to use and less anonymous than the chats of old used to be. While instant messaging still has its place for some people, private messages are more the style when it comes to one-on-one.
So what happened to the chatroom enthusiasts of the past? They started Twitter chatting, or tweetchatting as it is often called. This is the use of Twitter to hold a group conversation with anyone who wants to participate. It is more open, attached to your account for better networking, and extremely easy to do.
Here is your guide to starting your own Twitter chat.
Understanding How It Works
These chats are actually really easy to understand. You are just tweeting, but using a specific hashtag in order to group all tweets together. When other people use the same hashtag, Twitter’s algorithm and live search feature will gather them in real time so you can keep up with the conversation. By also using @ username tags, you can go a step further and communicate with a specific person directly during this process.
In order to more easily see (and participate) the conversation, sign in to the room using TwChat.
Preparing For Your Twitter Chat
There are some steps you will want to take in order to successfully run a Twitter chat.
First, find a time that is going to work best for your participants. You won’t be able to work around everyone’s schedule, so don’t try. However, you can look at your target demographic to find their location in order to select a time better suited for them. If you’re mostly appealing to people in the US, for example, you will want to stick with Central or Eastern time.
Second, plan a topic ahead of telling anyone about the chat. You should expect to stay mainly on that subject, but also to discuss related topics that can be directly linked to it. Once you know this, you can create your full schedule. Break it down into several segments, I would recommend them being 15 – 20 minutes a piece. This should allow people to get in their opinions and discuss it before moving on. You should also plan a short introduction, a conclusion and possibly a period in the middle for a guest speaker to give their talk and take questions if you will have one. Your schedule will look something like this:
- Introduction: 8:00 – 8:05
- Segment One (Subject): 8:05 – 8:20
- Segment Two (Subject): 8:20 – 8:35
- Questions From Users: 8:35 – 8:50
- Conclusion: 8:50 – 9:10
Third, select a hashtag for your chat. This can be difficult, as it has to be something that won’t be used for anything else. It also needs to be related to your topic or site, while still being easy to type in and remember. Longer hashtags might seem more clear, but they are also a pain to recall and type in. So try to find a good balance between length and clarity, and keep it simple.
Announcing Your Chat
Once you have your plan all made up and your hashtag selected, you will need to tell people about it. Start by putting up an official announcement on your site or blog. It should contain the date, time, hashtag to use and subject for that chat. If it is a reoccurring chat, make sure to let them know and then regularly update the information to reflect what will be discussed that week.
Include a post somewhere that explains how a Twitter chat works, such as the one at the beginning of this article. You could even find one already written and published and just link to it. It should contain recommendations for a hashtag tracker to use, and a quick rundown of how to operate it. This will make less social media savvy users more confident about taking part, as they see how easy it will be.
Next, post a notice on your social media profiles, as many as you have. Try letting people know a week before it takes part that it is happen. Then you should update them once a day to remind them that it will be happening, then an hour or two before the chat itself. Include the hashtag and subject with these reminders, and invite them to discuss the topic through those pages in order to find potential points of discussion for the chat.
Running Your Twitter Chat
I always recommend that you have at least one other person assisting you when you run your chat. That way you can act as the person actually running the conversation and keeping things on task, while they handle issues like fights between members, spam and any conflicts that might arise. They can also help you derail off topic conversations that might pop up, and remind the user that such things should be conducted through private messages, or on their own pages without the hashtag for the chat.
If it is going to be a big chat, have more than one moderator. Make sure they know what their responsibilities are, and what you expect. It will make things run much more smoothly when the time comes.
Your first chat might not attract as much attention as you like. Don’t worry, this should get better over time, so don’t be discouraged! Holding a Twitter chat is a great way of engaging with website visitors and social media followers. Try it for yourself, you won’t regret it.
Posted in: Taking part