What are Twitter chats and how do they work?

Twitter chats are virtual online conversations held via the Twitter application. Most Twitter chats revolve around a particular topic that are of common interest to the attendees, such as travel, culture, health, running, food, business, etc. A typical chat lasts 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the hosts and conversation.

The majority of Twitter chats are weekly, and each week the hosts will choose a specific topic that fits within their Twitter chat theme. Within that weekly topic, the hosts will ask a number of questions to the Twitter chat participants. For instance, #TRLT sends out five questions, while #CultureTrav asks six or seven. #TRLT, for instance, gets question suggestions from the community, while the hosts of #CultureTrav develop the questions themselves. The answers must fit within the Twitter allotment of 140 characters (photos do not count toward this limit).

What is a hashtag?

Twitter chats use hashtags that often relate to this general topic (i.e. #TRLT or #CultureTrav). A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the hash symbol (#). This combination is used in social media posts, for instance on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Hashtags make content public, allowing you to target and reach people with similar interests or search terms, regardless of whether or not they follow you. If you click on a hashtag within a social media post, the social media channel will take you to a feed of all the other people out there using the same hashtag in their own posts.

How do you create a hashtag?

Anyone can create a hashtag! All you need to do is include the hash symbol (#) and a keyword or phrase behind it. If you are using a phrase, there are no spaces between the words; everything is smushed together in one line. You can insert hashtags anywhere in your posts: front, middle or end. Hashtags are powerful when used wisely. Be careful not to use too many hashtags in one post, though; this is a huge turnoff. Same goes when you create a lengthy hashtag. Like anything else, everything in moderation.

Do you need to create a hashtag to join a Twitter chat?

For Twitter chats you do not need to create a hashtag. You are just following the hashtag of the chat, which makes it easier. You can search for the hashtag in the Twitter search bar, and it will show you top tweets, the latest tweets, people related to that hashtag, and more.

How do you join?

In order to join the chat, you first login to Twitter with your Twitter name. Your username is your Twitter handle (i.e. @JLipowski). You can login on your desktop, tablet, or phone, although desktop is the easiest device to follow the conversation. The chats move fast, and it is easier and faster to type on my desktop computer rather than my phone or tablet, although you can access Twitter on those platforms.

Search for the chat’s hashtag and click on the “latest” tweets. You will see all the tweets recently posted with this hashtag.

HashtagSearch

Questions are asked in regards to a chosen theme. These are prefaced with Q1, Q2 and so on. You answer each question with the relevant answer (A1, A2 etc.) and interact with others. It is important to include the hashtag of the chat (i.e. #TRLT), so your tweets can be followed by the hosts and other participants. Note: by including @JLipowski in a tweet, you are referencing a certain person, so in this tweet below, we are saying the question suggestion came from these two people. These will also the user directly that they have been mentioned.

Twitter chats can be busy, and the best way to follow is to open a separate window for the hashtag and one for Interactions/mentions so you can follow the chat and who is chatting with you directly. Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are two great (and free) tools to use and are very effective in managing the conversations.

Recap on how to join

  • Follow the hosts and the hashtag on Twitter
  • Join the hosts on the day of the chat at the start time
  • Use the hashtag in every tweet. This way others, even if they are not on the chat, can always see your valuable advice (even when the chat ends)
  • Feel free to invite friends to join, and RT anything you personally find interesting.
  • It helps to schedule your answers in advance, so you can interact with people and carry on a conversation

Why should you join a Twitter chat?

By joining in Twitter chats, you…

  • Establish yourself as a leader and expert in your field
  • Create intrigue for potential customers or readers, driving users to your Twitter page and website
  • Build your Klout, or your social media influence, with each retweet and mention
  • Create one-on-one relationships by participating in a weekly chat (most chats have returning participants)
  • Stay informed about current trends and incorporate those trends into your social media posts
  • Promote your products and services but don’t be too overbearing about this – just try and weave in your own experiences as you answer the questions
  • Drive engagement and increase reach
  • Maintain consistency on Twitter, as you are posting regularly with Twitter chats

Anything else you need to know?
It’s super fun! You’ll LOVE it. Looking forward to seeing you on Twitter.

Please let me know in the comments below which Twitter chats you love!

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