By now, you’ve probably seen either my feed or the feeds of the people you follow get flooded with a ton of responses, all with the same #hashtag. They say things like #socialchat or #blogchat in them, and can be RTs, replies or arguments. This is the next wave of Twitter’s application to people: Twitter Chat.
Basically, a Twitter Chat is when a group of people talk on Twitter using the same hashtag to link it all together. For instance, there’s my chat, #freelancechat. To participate in that chat, you Tweet what you want and add #Freelancechat to the end of it. There’s no better way to network with other people that share your interests, as well as demonstrate your knowledge.
Find a Twitter Chat – Twitter user Robert Swanwick maintains a comprehensive list of Twitter Chats available on a Google Spreadsheet. Simply scroll down the list of Twitter Chats until you find one that’s interesting. There’s a variety of choices, from the Horse fans of #Horsechat to the Christ-centered #Jesuschat. Make a note of the time the day and time of the chat. Also, some chats may have different time zones than yours, so Schedule accordingly. While you’re at it, follow the chat’s host on Twitter so you get the latest info on the chat.
Follow the Chat – Let me make one thing clear: DO NOT USE TWITTER’S WEBSITE TO FOLLOW THE CHAT. Most chats (especially large chats like #blogchat) go so fast that when you get the results from Twitter’s search page, 20+ tweets will have passed. Instead, use websites designed specifically to auto-update, such as Tweetchat or Twebevent.
Lurk in the chat – Spend a bit of time getting a feel for the chat from the other chatters. Figure out what the topic is if you didn’t see the announcement, and see how people talk in-chat. Once you feel confident enough, start talking.
Use Replies Generously – Things go REAL FAST in a Twitter Chat, and if someone posts something you want to comment on, they may not notice your post. Hence, you need to use the @ symbol in spades. This puts your reply in the person’s mentions bar, making it easier for them to reply.
Use Common Sense – Don’t be a jerk, don’t namecall, act your age, etc. If you disagree with someone, or if they disagree with you, be polite about it. If they’re a jerk to you, don’t say anything, just block them. If they are being disruptive to the chat as a whole, you may wish to report them as well. Use this rule: If you wouldn’t say it to a person in a professional meeting, don’t say it in a Twitter Chat.
Don’t spam your blog/website – If you’re in a chat talking about Basket Weaving, and you link your blog on Gas guzzling cars in the chat, chances are it’s not going to go well for you. Don’t link to your blog or website unless asked to do so. The only exception to this: If you have written a blog entry relevant to the topic, you may link it.
Additional Rules - Some chats may have additional rules you should follow, such as minimizing RTs in-chat or not asking questions in public. Check the website for the Twitter Chat (Which can be found on the Twitter chat list.)