Last night I faced a problem. Three Twitter chats, three topics, one hour. I needed to decide which chat would lead to the most information, new connections, practical knowledge and enjoyment. In the end, I couldn't choose. Instead, I decided to do all three. No surprise, considering I'm addicted to Twitter chats This blog post is dedicated to those who haven't jumped into as many as I have. If you're wondering how to join a Twitter chat or which tools to use, I've got you covered.
1) It's okay to lurk - for a bit.
Some Twitter chats are self explanatory: #SEOChat, #ContentChat, #BlogChat. Some, however, aren't as obvious. What on earth is #MMChat? What happens in #JVMChat? Who is Ragan and why does he have a social (#RaganSocial)? Take note of the followers who inspire you, and follow the chats they're in. Lurk for a bit to see if you're interested in the content. Once you've decided, don't wait any longer - jump in.
2) Take your time
Twitter chats are a virtual conversation. We debate and discuss different topics - all in real time. Unlike in a real conversation, however, people in a Twitter chat won't forget what was said, because Twitter archives everything. Don't rush or feel you need to answer each question right away. Read through the conversation and respond, question, and connect at your own pace.
3) Choose the right tool
There are many tools you can use to follow a Twitter chat. TweetChat tracks a hashtag and allows you to RT, quote, reply and pause the stream right from the website, though it's difficult to join more than one chat. Hootsuite is another option. Create a "Twitter Chat" tab and open a new stream for each chat you're in. Traditionally, however, I use good 'ol fashion Google Chrome, opening and refreshing a new tab for each chat I'm joining.
4) Don't check your notifications
While you should take your time, you also don't want to get left behind. People will RT, favorite, follow and reply to your comments. If you don't notice them within your chosen application/chat stream, leave them until the end. At the end of the chat, go through your notifications. This will help you continue the conversation and develop stronger relationships.
5) If all else fails...
RT. Can't figure out an answer, not sure what the question means, or don't have a unique viewpoint? RT those you agree with and jump on the next question.
I love Twitter chats and I'm always looking for more. What are your favorites?