Last month, I put together a beginner’s guide to tweet chats. Here, I develop that further, sharing some more of the things I’ve learned along the way about tweet chats. The aim is to help those new to tweet chats to join in and get the most from them!
If you’ve ever wanted to take part in a tweet chat, wanted a few tips to help you along, or wanted to send someone else a guide to encourage them to join in, I’m hoping my tweet chat guides will be a good starting point. In part 1, I covered:
- What is a tweet chat? – tweet chats in a nutshell
- What’s in it for me? – what can I gain from participating in a tweet chat?
- How do I follow a tweet chat? – how do I sign up and join in?
- How do I find tweet chats?
Here in part 2, I cover:
- Tweet chat do’s and don’ts – some suggestions for getting the most from your tweet chats
- What can I expect during a tweet chat? – The 8 stages of a (well-run) tweet chat. This might also be helpful if you’re thinking of running your own tweet chat
If you have some personal favourite top tips for tweet chats or have comments on mine, let me know by adding them to the comments below – or tweet me!
[Update: Here’s tweet chats part 3]
Tweet chat do’s and don’ts:
Here are my suggestions for getting the most from tweet chats.
- Have fun! … Or at least get something positive from it.
- Use the hashtag. Use the hashtag. Use the hashtag. Er so, in other words, remember to use the hashtag in every tweet. That way, peeps following the tweet chat in tweetchat.com or equivalent (see part 1) will see your contribution to the conversation. No hashtag, no visibility in the tweet chat. Simples.
- Don’t be afraid to ask! If you have a “stupid question”, there are bound to be others with the same query too.
- Encourage and help others. You’ll soon learn that Twitter people love to help others. And, soon enough, you’ll be offering your own advice and examples to newbies too.
- Debate – don’t argue. Do feel free to disagree and engage in robust debate! On the other hand, don’t turn it into an argument or slanging match.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s easy for misunderstandings to arise in 140 characters, especially in a fast moving tweet chat.
- Take care of yourself. Tweet chats can sometimes be pretty intense and stimulating – a bit of a bear pit – especially the popular ones. Is this what you need right now? Sometimes, it’s a good idea to just lurk – you can always catch up later with the transcript.
- To swear or not to swear – it’s a contentious issue. Some feel uncomfortable with swearing in tweet chats, finding it aggressive and rude, and will back off from engaging. Some feel strongly that Twitter should be a reservoir of courtesy and will claim the moral high ground if “language” is used: for them, one swear word is enough to invalidate any otherwise valid point you may have made. Forever. So be warned.
- If you’re a professional, be professional. Take a look at your professional code of conduct (if you have one) for advice on how to conduct yourself on Twitter. Some professional duties apply at all times, even when off duty.
- Respect the topic. Tweeps have come together to discuss a particular topic, so keep your contribution relevant. Questions and comments are encouraged, but please don’t try to derail the focus of the chat. If it’s a topic you’re unsure of, maybe read up a little in advance so you can get something out of it. If unsure, consider contacting the tweet chat organiser in advance for guidance.
What can I expect during a tweet chat?
A well-organised tweet chat will typically have the following 8 stages. And, if you’re thinking of organising your own tweet chat, this is how I’d recommend doing so.
- Advertising – In advance of the tweet chat, the tweet chat organiser will give notice that the tweet chat will take place. This might be on a tweet chat listing, in a blog post or via social media such as twitter. Some tweet chats are general get togethers at a particular time using a hashtag, whereas others will have a topic set by the organiser. Sometimes the organiser will post links to brief reading material or questions to be discussed.
- Advance notice – In advance of the chat (for example, at the same time the week before; at the same time the day before; and then starting from a couple of hours before), the tweet chat organiser will tweet reminders of the time, and hashtag, together with any topic, reading material or questions.
- Introduction – At the start of the tweet chat, the organiser will introduce the topic to be discussed, and tweet links to any advance reading or guidelines.
- Hello’s – As tweeps join the chat (whether to lurk or participate), some will say hi (and later goodbye). Many will not and will just tweet in when they have something to say! (I’m usually one of those!) Tweet chats generally take a little while to get going, so don’t be afraid to lurk till you catch the vibe.
- Questions – To get the tweet chat going (and to give it a boost if it starts to flag), the tweet chat organiser may post questions at the start and along the way. This helps to prompt and guide the discussion. Feel free to respond to these questions at the time or later. But you don’t need to respond to the questions specifically: they are just a guide.
- Conclusion – The tweet chat organiser will give an alert when the tweet chat is coming towards the end, so people can make last minute points, then draw it to a close. That’s the end of the official tweet chat – though of course you can keep on tweeting. These tweets may not make it into the official transcript (see below) – but they may be the part of the tweet chat you get most from. This is especially so if you prefer a slower pace, or if you’ve made connections you want to follow up.
- Transcript – Some tweet chat organisers will post a transcript of all the tweets made using the hashtag shortly after the event (or the next day), together with a summary and maybe a word cloud. This can be a helpful catch-up, whether or not you participated in the tweet chat.
- Follow up – One of the great things about participating in tweet chats is you can find interesting new people to engage with, so you’ll find tweeps following each other and making contact long afterwards.
I hope that’s given you an idea of what to expect from a tweet chat and how you can get the most from taking part. Let me know you top tips for tweet chats!
Still to come:
- Tweet chat trouble shooting – some tips for when things go a bit eek!
- Mental health tweet chats – links to popular ones, how to find others & some extra things to think about
- Tweet chats for newbies: getting started – Part 1 of my guide to tweet chats
- Mental health nurse & patient tweet chat: what do newbies need to know? – A tweet chat still in the offing … watch this space!
- Top tips for Twitter newbies – My blog from earlier in the year