Lessons from our first Twitter chat

I feel like I’m still recovering from our fast and frenetic Twitter chat on Monday night. It was my first time hosting a Twitter chat, and I know it was the first Twitter chat that many of you have participated in.

I learnt some stuff from running that chat and I’ll be making some changes to how we do things for the next Twitter chat. I thought these learnings were worth sharing and I also want to let you know what I’ll be doing differently.

Lesson 1: The pace was really, really fast and some people found it hard to tweet quickly

I know that some people found it tricky to type out their answers to the questions and to get their responses into the flow of the conversation at the right time. I type really, really fast and I am also pretty experienced as a tweeter, which means I can type my tweets fast and I’m good at keeping them under the character limit. It was evident to me when I looked at the number of tweets I smashed out in the hour compared to the total number of tweets


For this reason, I will make the main questions for the Twitter chat available ahead of the class so you can think, plan and type in advance. I’ll still ask follow up questions as the chat proceeds, but I’ll share a few key questions ahead of time. During the chat, I’ll repeat each question a couple of times before moving on to the next one. This way they’ll be easier for you to spot in the feed.

Lesson 2: I need to Storify right after the Twitter chat

I went to pull the tweets into a story on Storify the day after the chat and realised that I could only get the 50 most recent tweets. Which is not helpful because there were 300ish tweets. Oops.


Short term fix: Colleagues of mine are going to export the tweets from our first Twitter chat with their fancy tools so we have an archive.

Long term fix: I’ll Storify straight away.

Lesson 3: Orienting you to the people who joined us

For our first Twitter chat, I didn’t organise a guest tweeter because I wanted to ease us in (haha!). Instead, I just mentioned the chat to a couple of people I’d been tweeting with about subject guides in the last week and they all dropped in. Which is fantastic! I’m sure people will continue to drop in across the semester. But did you know who they were? I tweeted a hi and a brief intro for each of them, but it’s possible it might have gotten lost in the feed.


I’ll post a bio for invited tweeters on the unit site in advance of the Twitter chat.

Lesson 4: I missed people tweeting at me without the hashtag / students tweeting with the #ifn614 hashtag

A few students had problems and either tweeted me or tweeted using the #ifn614 hashtag. I missed these as I had tchat.io at full screen and felt like my attention was fragmented by trying to flick back to TweetDeck to catch these. Thanks to the students who caught those tweets and helped the tweeters out!


For the next Twitter chat I’ll use my second monitor to make sure I can see both my own Twitter feed and the hashtag feed.

What lessons should I have learnt?

How else can I improve your experience for the next Twitter chat? Were there any things that didn’t work well for you? Even if you think it’s an unsolvable problem, please throw it out there because I may be able to find a solution.

What lessons can you share?

What did you learn about participating in a Twitter chat from your first Twitter chat experience? Any tips you can share with your peers?


  • Stacey Larner Reply

    I enjoyed it even though it was frenetic. It definitely felt like a race more than a chat, and I’m sure I missed things but like you I’m a pretty fast typer (my accuracy not so great, so correcting typos slows me down haha). I do have problems with 140c length at times because I like thoughtful responses, but it is difficult to be thoughtful on twitter (and that’s one reason I don’t like debating or discussing at length on twitter). My friend said she had to mute the hashtag so next time I’ll be posting a warning on twitter beforehand so my followers can mute if they want to. Other than that, I think tchat is a great tool and I learned a lot from the guests (and followed them all!)

    • Kate Davis Reply

      Excellent! My cunning plan is to introduce you to lots of awesome people to follow!

      I agree, Twitter can be a tricky place to have lengthy conversations or intense debate. I guess I see the Twitter chats as stimulus – I want them to generate lots of ideas so that we have lots of things to think about in the week.

      Hopefully the Twitter Chat Champion summary posts will provide another space for the debate to continue.

  • Deborah Fuller Reply

    I enjoyed it and learnt a lot from it. I am one of those who can’t type very fast and also spent time correcting typos. Hopefully it will improve with time. I t will be helpful if we have the questions beforehand, so we’re not thinking and frantically trying to get our tweets out before the next subject comes up. Overall though it was a fun and good learning tool. It was good to debrief with the other students on Connect whilst waiting for the lecture to start afterwards

    • Kate Davis Reply

      Your comment made me think it might be useful to have a 30 minute debrief in Adobe Connect after the Twitter chat. What do you think?

      Also, don’t worry about correcting typos. We’ll all be making them!

  • Caitlin . Reply

    I think these ideas will make it a lot easier to at least know whats happening, as will reading the relevant information before hand. I am used to typing at work but still found out I was not fast enough for the frenetic pace and by the time I had edited length and typos my tweets were way out of sync. I also found the hash tag really long so will try the platform mentioned that automates this. Tweet Deck makes it hard to see enough tweets at once.

    This was my first ever tweet and I agree with Stacey a meaningful debate would be quite hard on this platform. I also found many people seemed to have prior experience in Libraries and other units so I did not have much to offer. I would be interested to know if there are any other new students with no work history in this area.

    I am concerned about being the Twitter Chat Champion and I wonder how many tweets constitute “active participation” as I don’t think I have the skills to tweet as prolifically as some.

    Having read the readings I also find some of the content a little confusing, a lot of what I read suggests reference librarians were highly regarded professionals with special skills still needed to engage with the vast amount of information in the modern world. And a vital part of the technical innovation needed to ensure libraries were utilised. However from what I remember of the tweets many took the view that those who asked for help in this way were perhaps lazy and that many of the guides established to facilitate library searches were inhibiting peoples need to research widely.
    These varying definitions of what a reference service is seem at odds.

    I would also appreciate a space in the forums to debrief/have general discussion after every weeks lecture or tweets outside of our official assessment forums. This would give us a space to ask questions pose thoughts and generally help each other.

    This style of learning is definitely far removed from the distance study I have completed before which resolved more around passive viewing of lectures, textbooks, independent research and lengthy essays.
    The constant need for engagement is challenging and definitely makes one reassess ones strengths, I also find the long time frame a struggle after a long day at work and with demands from family.

    I think I learned a lot and while I cant say i am looking forward to the next one I am definitely hoping to be more prepared, more engaged and improve over time.

    • Kate Davis Reply

      Thanks for your honesty about your challenges with the chat. I appreciate it.

      Yup, some of the sentiment in the chat disagreed with the readings. This is the main reason I set up the Twitter Chat Champion task: so that some students each week consider what happened in the chat and contrast it with the reading material. This week I wanted to write that post myself and I just haven’t had a chance, but I’m going to try to do it tonight.

      In future, you will have the reading material in advance so you can prepare by reading it, but I also really want people to contribute their opinions and personal experiences with libraries in the Twitter chats. The literature is not necessarily the gospel, and I’m interested in hearing your critical comments. Even if you’re new to the course, you will have used libraries and have something to contribute as a user.

      In terms of a debrief: I was thinking we could perhaps have a 30 minute Adobe Connect debrief from 7.15 til 7.45, following the Twitter chat. But I also note you’re finding the long days tricky. How would you feel about doing that? Or would you prefer to debrief in the forum?

      I’d also recommend having a chat with a student who is further on in the course to discuss time management and balancing the course with family and work. We got more volunteers to mentor than we got people asking for mentors, so I can very easily connect you with someone to talk about how they manage the workload.

    • Sarah Ross Reply

      I am also new to the course and new to Twitter. I really enjoyed the challenge but have to confess that I got very little from the content as I really do need to digest after/read beforehand or whatever. It is certainly not easy negotiating an interruption free time, especially with no pause button. I also did not find Tweetdeck that great so will be looking at something else for next time!
      Will let you know if anything looks good.
      KR, Sarah Ross

  • Saurav Khadka Reply

    To begin with, Twitter Chat was my first experience. I had a twitter account since a long time but I was not active in it. I learned a lot of things during that chat, however having to click tweet every time, unlike in other chats where hitting enter button sends the message was annoying :P. Apart from that, the pace was really fast, having read all the tweets were sometimes not possible. And for me, I sometimes missed to add #hashtag in the tweet, which never appeared in the chat. I agree to other peers like they said, if we could have questions beforehand, we can be prepared with our answers and tweets. To say something about the lesson learnt, chatting in twitter was the first, having to use hashtags, character limit in tweets were some lessons I learnt. Likewise, being new to twitter chat, I can share those lessons to a new twitter chatter 😀

    • Kate Davis Reply

      Thanks for your feedback. I recommend trying tchat.io for the next Twitter chat. It adds the hashtag for you.

  • Paola Beretta Reply

    I really enjoyed too as it was “information-on-the-go” as we quickly reflected on it. I found it difficult to type and keep pace, so keen to have topic in advance. I learnt a lot from this first experience but agree that in-depth discussions are difficult in this media. I like Caitlin’s idea of a space to debrief afterwards and build on learnings.

    • Kate Davis Reply

      I’m going to put up a poll about how we might debrief. More soon!

  • Sarah Ross Reply

    Further to comments made to Caitlin above, my biggest problem was that concentration lapsed in final ten minutes or so. Could we maybe knock ten minutes off Twitterchat and add that to a debrief? Otherwise, despite saying I would lurk, I enjoyed participating (sort of)!

  • Caitlin . Reply

    Thanks Kate,

    I think a debrief after and a forum for all those thoughts that come the next morning would be great. And i will be looking to try all the new tools. I would like to see many of those with strong opinions in the chat due to their experience, given the opportunity to explain them more in a forum for the benefit of those with less experience. I have always found the chats in less structured forums very useful.

    Thanks for the offer of help with time management although I really don’t think this is my issue. I have studied a full Bachelor plus post grad as a distance student mother of four balancing work and study. I am happy to log in a and contribute as much as I can every Monday however will always be slightly distracted as three kids return home from from sport and squabble getting their dinner dished up, homework done etc its just the nature of the beast and I am more than happy to be doing ten things at once. A full day of work plus live study will always be along day but I am happy to have the opportunity.

    I am sure us twitter newbies will be champs by the end although I would like further guidance as to what constitutes meaningful input. Is it the content of the comments and questions we post or a combination of this combined with the number.

    Enjoying the steep learning curve 🙂

  • Robynne Reply

    Hi Kate, did a preferred tool for the Tweet chat come out of all the feedback?? I note your refetene to trying tchat.io above.
    Many thanks, Robynne

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