What is a Twitterchat? Anyone can use Twitter, but you really are not part of the online community until you have spent some time on a Twitterchat. This post will explain the fundamentals of a Twitterchat.
A Twitterchat is simply an organized group chat that takes place using the Twitter platform. Twitterchats are organized events that occur at a set time. Example: #smallbizchat occurs on Wednesday evenings from 8 to 9 PM Eastern. To participate, you just need to be using Twitter at the assigned time.
What is a Hashtag? A hashtag “#” also known as the “pound sign” always starts with the symbol and then your special word or topic. Mine is # smallbizchat. Hashtags allow you to isolate a conversations using Twitter. The use of a hashtag is how other participants follow the discussion. Participants use an assigned hashtag (say, #smallbizchat) at the end their tweets during the discussion.
You can use regular Twitter to participate in a chat. All you need to do is answer the questions and be sure to use the #hashtag at the end of each answer. I would not advise doing it this way however, the point of participating in a Twitterchat is to interact with the other participants.
What is the format of a Twitterchat? Here are some common formats for chats that I’ve seen:
- freeform discussion- there’s a general topic and everyonejumps in and starts chatting
- structuredagenda- the host asks questionsand gives participantsa set period oftime to answer
- featured guest – guestoffers advice oranswers questionsposed bythe host and the audience can chime in too. (#smallbizchat uses this format)
How do Twitterchats operate? Often the chat organizer or host will set ground rules at the beginning. Typical ground rules might include:
- The first 10 minutes are for introductions and announcements
- No pitching your business until the last 5 minutes
- Never hijack the chat– take irrelevant discussionsoffline
How do I find out what Twitterchats are taking place? There are more than 60 Twitterchats on twitter each week. There are also some that meet less frequently. Some of the most popular chats include #journchat (for journalists and PR folks on Monday nights) #gno (girls night out on Tuesday nights) #brandchat (for branding tips on Wed mornings) #smallbizchat (for small business info on Wednesday nights) #blogchat (all about blogging on Sunday nights).
There are two major calendars that track twitterchats:
- Twitter Party Guide
- For a good calendar andschedule of weekly twitterchats check out this Google link: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AhisaMy5TGiwcnVhejNHWnZlT3NvWFVPT3Q4NkIzQVE&hl=en
How to participate in a Twitterchat? You must have a twitter account. Use the calendars to select a chat you want to participate in.
Each week I release a custom tweetgrid link through my @smallbizlady account on Twitter with the topic to make it easy for my followers to join #smallbizchat.
If someone goes on Tweetgrid.com directly they need to select party mode and manually put in the hashtag for the twitterchat they wish to follow. The great thing about tweetgrid is that it has three columns which allow you to see everything going on real-time.
Tweetchat.com is much simpler to use. You login with your Twitter information and just put in the #hashtag and you will immediately start to see the conversation in that #hashtag.
Tell me about your favorite Twitterchat or if you have ever participated in #smallbizchat tell me what you like about my weekly Twitterchat.
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Melinda Emerson “SmallBizLady” is a Veteran Entrepreneur, Small Business Expert and Social Media Coach who hosts #SmallBizChat on Twitter. #SmallBizChat is the trusted resource on Twitter to discuss everything entrepreneurs need to know about launching and running a profitable small business. Melinda’s first book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 months! A Month-by-Month Guide to Start a Business that Works! is scheduled to be released by Adams Media in Feb 2010.