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How to participate in a Twitter chat

Did you know that I run a weekly nonprofit Twitter chat titled #NPtalk? It all started about 1 1/2 years ago with a simple conversation on Twitter and a hashtag and voila a chat was born. After 1 1/2 years of being the moderator and host of this chat and amazing community I have learned a few tricks about how to participate. I decided it was time to write these tips down for those of you who are interested in joining a chat.

Let’s start with what is a Twitter chat? A twitter chat is basically on online chat that happens on Twitter during a scheduled time. The chats have specific topics that range from academics to young professionals and everything in between. Click here for a great public listing of Twitter chats currently scheduled. What is cool about Twitter chats is that they can draw people from around the world to the conversation and because they are happening on Twitter anyone who is using Twitter can jump in. Some tips Twitter chat participation tips:

  1. Use the specified chat hashtag to participate.
  2. Use chat software such as TweetChat to make participating easy. On Tweetchat you simply login with your Twitter account, enter the Twitter hashtag and voila you see what everyone using that hashtag is saying. It also automatically tags all your tweets with the hashtag so you can focus on the chat.
  3. Introduce yourself when you enter the chat, even if you are only listening.
  4. Follow the question and answer format if they are using one.
  5. Follow the guidelines established for the chat. If you don’t know what they are ask. Some chats are very casual with no guidelines, while others will have them on their website.
  6. Be useful and helpful. Be prepared to share links to articles and blog posts that you think will help the audience.
  7. Invite others to join the chat. It’s a great way to connect others in your network and bring value to your network.
  8. Stay on topic. Don’t chit chat on the hashtag about things that are not relevant.  I keep Hootsuite open during the chat to talk to people or Tweet non-chat relevant items as TweetChat always includes a hashtag.
  9. Don’t spam the hashtag or try to sell yourself, products or anything else. Chats are communities and they don’t like it when people pop in and try to peddle their wares.
  10. Retweet chat tweets that are helpful, but don’t simply retweet the whole time. Create some original comments too.
  11. Continue to use the chat hashtag even after official chat is over. Chat hashtags often have a life of their own. For example #NPtalk hashtag is used all the time by community members sharing great info.
  12. Say thank you to the host and people you found helpful during the chat.

Ok enough said. Do you have any tips to add to this list?    

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