What’s a Twitter Chat?

Are new to the Twittersphere or haven’t stayed on top of the latest trends, then you may not be aware that Twitter chat sessions are becoming popular among groups and organizations.

Twitter chats are opportunities to connect with others and expand your network. Here is a general overview of Twitter chats and how you can utilize this option to its full potential.

Twitter Chat: The Rundown

A Twitter chat is much like any other online chat, in which online users gather at a specified time to discuss certain topics or issues. The great thing about Twitter chat is it brings users together from all over world to a platform where they can interact in real time. Another benefit would be to interact or gather information after the chat has concluded, say if you were stuck in a meeting and couldn’t participate at that exact time.

To join a Twitter chat, you must know the #hashtag being used. A #hashtag is simply a Twitter function to search for the topic being discussed.

One of my usually Twitter chats would be #SMCEDU (Social Media Club Education) which typically has a chat every Monday around 12:30 pm EST on various topics and hosted by a variety of educators from around the US. I have hosted one in the past for this group and it’s a great experience. I always enjoy participating when I get a chance, since it’s a field I’m passionate about.

The best way to follow Twitter chats is to use an application specifically designed for this purpose. The most popular options are Hootsuite, TweetChat, TweetGrid, and TweetDeck. If I’m not at my desk and I’ll typically use the Twitter iPad app with the #hashtag as a saved search.

The topics of Twitter chats vary greatly and the opportunities are largely unlimited. This is wonderful because it means you can use the function for everything from discussing books to figuring out the best way to engage students in your class.

Want to Start Your Own Twitter Chat?

Before creating your first Twitter chat session, it’s best to join a few sessions that are initiated and run by other Twitter users. By doing this, you will learn what works well and what you should avoid. By first joining other chats, you will also become more familiar with the entire process and will be more confident during your first chat launch.

The next step is to develop a solid goal for the chat session. I find it to be a good idea to right a blog about it for those interested in the chat to read prior and develop your questions that you would like to extend to your audience.

To conduct a successful session, you must first get people to attend. As such, if you are new to Twitter and don’t yet have any followers, then it may be wise to first generate a following and make yourself known on the social media website before leading a chat session. The most important aspect of getting people to join the chat is to promote the session, give people a reason to attend, and then follow through on that promise during the actual chat. It might be best to get involved with a chat you are already interested in that has a weekly time already scheduled for a chat and ask to host one time to see how this works.

Where Art Thou Twitter Chats?

One of the best resource to utilize in finding current and ongoing Twitter chat sessions is to visit this awesome Google doc. You can research other chat sessions and also list any sessions you want to begin.

Many don’t realize Twitter chat sessions exist and, as such, are missing out on an awesome networking opportunity. After your first Twitter chat experience, you too will understand what the hype is about.

Maybe I’ll run into you on a Twitter chat in the near future. Typically you will find me on #SMCEDU on Mondays at 12:30 pm EST.

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