It is common to come across Twitter Chats and not know how to participate in one of them. Most people remain blissfully unaware of what Twitter chats are, and how they could use it to their benefit.
What is a Twitter Chat?
A Twitter chat is a pre-scheduled and pre-arranged interaction that takes place on Twitter. Everyone who participates in a Twitter chat remain online at the designated time, and use certain predefined hashtags, which link all tweets with those hashtags in a Twitter chat. Twitter chats may have a leader, who moderates the discussion with a specific agenda, or it could be a free flowing conversation that takes place amongst those who have common interests, or it could be a combination of both.
Join a Chat
The first thing that you would need to do is join a chat in order to participate in it. You would need to type in the hashtag of a chat in the search box and choose the one that is most active. If you cannot find a twitter chat, you could take a look at this exhaustive spreadsheet of chats and their schedules. It has hundreds of chats, their timings and the interest areas. Once you find a chat of your interest, begin to read what people are talking. Try to assess the mood, context and the level of enthusiasm among participants.
Participate in the Chat
A chat is meant to be participatory and two-way. Twitter is random, one-way and difficult to organize. Hashtags do the bit for organizing a particular chat, and participation comes from being proactive, listening to what people are tweeting and responding or reflecting with your own tweets. Twitter chats tend to be very open and informal, and it is also the right place to get people to follow you so that you can DM (Direct Message) them later on.
Use Chat Tools
There are several tools that help you to get a grasp of Twitter chats. These tools reveal only those tweets that have the hashtag designated for the chat. Thus, you will be able to filter out the rest of the tweets that appear in your timeline. One such tool is Tweetchat. You might also want to use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, both of which are pretty popular tools. TweetChat has the advantage of adding the appropriate hashtag at the end of your tweet automatically, which can be very helpful.
Start Your Own Chat
While there are already hundreds of scheduled and designated chats that take place on twitter, there are chances you might not find one that suits your interest area. You can go ahead and start your own Twitter chat. You would first need to choose a time, topic and hashtag. You can then choose a format for your chat. The format could be question based, where people ask questions and you reply. It could also be a single topic with free flowing discussion. In such a case, everyone adds their opinion during a Twitter chat.
Once you choose the format. You would need to launch and promote your Twitter chat. You could announce it in a blog post, tweet the announcement to your followers, or choose any innovative method available for your perusal. One of the ways that you could successfully run consecutive chats is to bring celebrities or industry leaders as guests. These guests can offer valuable information to discerning Twitter users.
Take the Chat beyond Twitter
It is not necessary that a Twitter chat must remain transient and be lost in the sea of tweets that appear in your stream. You could create a LinkedIn group for your chat and continue serious and lengthy discussions which perhaps are not possible on Twitter. Using multimedia attracts a lot of Twitter users to join tweets as well.
Twitter Chat for Designers and Developers
There are several twitter chats that exclusively take place for web designers, and web developers. In fact, one shouldn’t be surprised if one found web designing chats dedicated to a particular city or even a particular area of web designing. #devchat, #freelanceChat and #DesignChat might probably interest you. For instance, when it was active, #devchat covered software development, and was dedicated to all developers and programmers who want to learn, share and network. It used to take place 7-8PM MST on Wednesdays. There are literally hundreds of Twitter chats dedicated to web designers and developers. You just need to look around, or create one on your own!