Here’s everything you need to know to participate in our Twitter chats this semester.
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.
There are a few different options, but many students who participated in the first Twitter chat used tchat.io and found it really helpful.
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 problem I had with this tool was that when I replied to tweets I was mentioned in, it included my Twitter handle in my reply, which annoyed me because it took up characters and it also just looked untidy.
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.
[I was going to highly recommend this one, and I was planning on using it on Monday night, but it just crashed when I went back to take a screenshot. Hmmm. Maybe avoid it for now and let’s see if it becomes more stable.]
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
Head to the Twitter chat schedule to find out what’s happening this week.
Look at the learning materials
Do some reading so you have some knowledge of the topic. But don’t forget we want to hear your opinion too, not just what the set reading says.
Grab the hashtag
Make a note of the hashtag so you’re ready to start on time.
Follow the champions
Make sure you are following the students who are the Twitter Chat Champions for the week.
Follow our guest tweeters
Follow the industry experts we’ve invited to each week’s chat.
Read the questions and think about responses
Check out the questions in advance. You might even like to prepare some answers you can paste in when the questions are asked during the chat.
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.
Check the schedule for the hashtags or they’ll also be on the weekly pages.
Answer the questions
I’ll have a series of questions up my sleeve for each Twitter chat. They’ll be listed on the schedule in advance to help you prepare.
I’ll ask these questions across the one hour chat. Each one will be prefaced with a question number hashtag. Example:
#Q1 What did you think of the article blah blah blah? #ifn614test
To respond, append the corresponding answer hashtag to your tweet, preferably at the beginning. Example:
#A1 It was a thoughtful discussion of blah blah but blah #ifn614test
Try to keep the question number in your tweets while you’re still riffing off that question. This helps with sorting the tweets afterwards.
Tweeting answers you’ve composed in advance
Preparing answers in advance is a good strategy, but there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind if you’re adopting this strategy.
Wait for the question to be tweeted before tweeting your answer
Please 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 make an effort to engage. It’s a chat – i.e. a conversation. So converse!
Engage with our guests
We’re very fortunate to have some awesome guests with us for our Twitter chats. Please don’t be intimidated by this! Get in and engage with them so they feel included and valued. We want them to keep participating because they’ve got great stuff to share with you.
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. Some strategies for deciding what you will and won’t read:
- Choose a few of your peers whose commentary you value and keep an eye out for their profile pic in the stream.
- Watch for posts from the guest tweeters. They’re the experts!
- Keep and eye out for Kate and Clare so you don’t miss any administrative posts.
Minimise noise in the hashtag
If you’re having unrelated conversations, please don’t 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.
Managing your Twitter Chat Champion responsibilities
If you’re the Twitter chat champion of the week, you need to reflect on one or more themes from the chat. Our first Twitter chat generated 500+ tweets. That’s good news because it means you’ve got lots to draw from. It’s also bad news because it means you need to wade through all those tweets when you’re writing your post.
To make your life easier, favourite tweets you think are really insightful during the Twitter chat. That way you’ll have a shorter list of tweets you can start with when you’re writing your post.
Before you log off
Thank our guests
Please make an effort to thank our guests using their Twitter handles before you log off.
After the Twitter chat
Got more to say?
The conversation doesn’t have to stop when we hit the one hour mark.
- Feel free to tweet your final thoughts using the hashtag after the chat is officially over.
- If you’re inspired by a line of thought or an argument in the chat, you can always write a post in your forum to reflect on this further.
- Keep the conversation going on Twitter after the chat is over.
Twitter Chat Champion posts
Make some notes straight away about the chat to help you when it comes to writing your post. Try to write a draft of your post as soon as possible so you don’t forget what happened in the chat.