We’re holding a Twitter chat tomorrow night, 7pm til 8pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, focusing on professional development (PD). We thought we’d share some tips about participating in Twitter chats to help you get prepared.
What is a Twitter chat?
Not sure what a Twitter chat is? This definition from the Buffer blog explains it all:
A Twitter chat is where a group of Twitter users meet at a pre-determined time to discuss a certain topic, using a designated hashtag (#) for each tweet contributed. A host or moderator will pose questions (designated with Q1, Q2…) to prompt responses from participants (using A1, A2…) and encourage interaction among the group. Chats typically last an hour.
Imagine a business networking event—but without a dress code and with a keyboard instead of a bar. The same social customs apply—courtesy and respect—and it’s a great way to meet new people with similar interests. There are Twitter chats in almost every industry imaginable.
Use a Twitter chat monitoring tool
Twitter chats use hashtags to group tweets into a conversation. You could simply search the hashtag at twitter.com but you’ll find the conversation is easier to follow if you use a tool that aggregates all the tweets for the hashtag.
This is a simple tool with a really clean interface. It
- prepopulates the hashtag field
- allows you to reply, retweet, quote and favourite tweets with one click
- hide retweets from the feed (useful for removing duplication caused by people retweeting)
- pause the tweet stream if you need to catch your breath
The only issue with this tool is that when you reply to tweets you are mentioned in, it includes your Twitter handle in the reply, which is a bit frustrating because it takes up characters.
TweetChat is a pretty basic tool with all the functionality you need to participate in a Twitter chat. It refreshes in real time so you’ll always see the latest tweets. It also prepopulates the compose field with the hashtag so you don’t have to type it. Win! You can’t see heaps of tweets on the screen but the neat thing about this tool is that the compose field floats, so even if you scroll down the page, you can still compose a tweet without having to scroll to the top of the screen.
Twubs is another free tool with all the essential functionality you need for a Twitter chat. It also prepopulates the compose field with the hashtag and there’s a pause button so you can pause the tweet stream and catch up if the pace gets a bit crazy. You just login with your Twitter account and then you can tweet from the Twubs interface. There’s no need to use the Join this Twub functionality, but you can if you want to.
Prepare in advance
We’ll be running the Twitter chat from our group account @qutisg, so follow us ahead of the chat.
You might also like to follow the rest of our team, who’ll be chiming in during the chat:
Note the hashtag
We’ll be using the tag #ilnpdchat – make a note of it so you’re ready to roll at 7pm!
Read the questions and think about responses
I always find it easier to participate in a Twitter chat when I’ve got some time to think in advance, so we wanted to give you some questions ahead of time. Here’s what we’ll be talking about on Monday night.
- Should PD for librarians be compulsory and linked to professional accreditation? Why or why not?
- What are your top 3 goals for PD this year and how did you decide on them?
- What are the biggest challenges for you in managing your PD?
- What strategies do you use to keep up to date with what’s happening in the profession?
- What free PD activities would you recommend to others?
- If funds and time were unlimited, what PD activities would you prioritise? What’s on your wish list?
Right before the chat
Warn your followers
Tweet a warning to let people who follow you know you’re participating in a Twitter chat and will be pumping out a high volume of tweets using a specific hashtag. They can then mute the hashtag.
Log in to your tool of choice
Log in to your Twitter chat tool and search the hashtag.
During the chat
Use the hashtag
Make sure you append the hashtag to all of your tweets – even replies – so they appear in the chat feed.
Answer the questions
We’ll ask questions across the one hour chat. Each one will be prefaced with a question number hashtag. Example:
#Q1 What did you think of blah blah blah? #ilnpdchat
To respond, append the corresponding answer hashtag to your tweet, preferably at the beginning. Example:
#A1 I think blah blah but blah #ilnpdchat
Try to keep the question number in your tweets while you’re still talking about things related to that question.
Tweeting answers you’ve composed in advance
Preparing answers in advance is a good strategy, but there are a couple of things you might like to keep in mind if you’re adopting this strategy.
Wait for the question to be tweeted before tweeting your answer
It’s best if you hold off tweeting the answers you’ve composed in advance until the question has been asked.
Participate in the conversation
By all means, prepare answers to the questions in advance and tweet them during the chat, but make sure you also try to engage with other tweeters. It’s a chat – i.e. a conversation – and it’s the engagement with others that makes it interesting.
Can’t keep up? Press pause!
The Twitter chat tools I’ve mentioned above allow you to press pause on the conversation so you can catch up. If the conversation is moving too fast and you’re feeling overwhelmed, use the pause button.
Recognise that you won’t be able to read every tweet
There’s no way you’re going to be able to read every single tweet in the Twitter chat. Trying to do that will just be overwhelming.
Minimise noise in the hashtag
If you’re having unrelated conversations, it’s best not to use the hashtag.
How to tweet faster
- Use a Twitter chat tool so you don’t have to type the hashtag.
- Don’t worry about typos – they happen to everyone! This isn’t an academic essay and it doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Don’t edit unless it won’t fit in the character limit. Your tweets don’t need to be beautifully structured.
- If you can’t fit your whole though into one tweet, stretch it over two tweets. Just type … at the end and … at the beginning of the next tweet. While it’s generally best to try and encapsulate one thought in a single tweet, nobody has time for crafting tweets in a Twitter chat.