I LOVE Twitter chats. When I feel like I have nothing left to say, put me in a Twitter chat, and suddenly I have a lot of thoughts. They’re fun and fast-paced, so if you want to participate, you don’t have time to overthink what you want to say. You just have to jump right in and say it. And the built-in 140 character limit (actually less, since you have to include a hashtag) forces you to edit and get to the point, quickly.
The basic idea of a Twitter chat is pretty simple: You just follow a specific hashtag, and everyone participating in the chat uses it.
But if you’ve never participated in a Twitter chat (and even if you have!), you can get overwhelmed, quickly. There’s so much going on, and it’s hard to keep up, especially when you’re trying to see what’s going on in the hashtag, answer notifications, and find whether or not the next question has been asked. So today I’m sharing my system for keeping up with Twitter chats, and a few of my favorites to participate in.
Step 1: Log in to Tweet Deck
Tweet Deck is an online app owned by Twitter, and my preferred app for following Twitter chats. Simply login with your Twitter login, and you’ll see a dashboard with columns for your home feed and mentions (possibly more — it’s been a while since I signed up, so I forget what you start out with!).
The columns are what I love about Tweet Deck. If you participate on the Twitter website, you’re forced to jump around between searching for the hashtag, checking your notifications, and checking the organizer’s feed, and it’s super easy to lose your place. With Tweet Deck, you can create columns for anything and see everything at one time. Which leads me to…
Step 2: Create columns
First, you’ll want to create a column to follow the hashtag. Look for the search icon at the top left, then search for the Twitter chat’s hashtag. Once the search results pop up, you’ll see a button at the bottom to add a column for that hashtag.
Next, I like to add a column for the organizer of the Twitter chat. They’re the ones posting the questions, and when things are really moving, those questions easily get lost in the shuffle. You can either search for the user like you did the hashtag, or click on the username in the feed, then click on the user icon on the popup, and click the button to add a column.
Another great thing about columns in Tweet Deck is that once you add them, you don’t have to search again. Just log in to your Tweet Deck account, and all your columns are there. Since I use Tweet Deck exclusively for Twitter chats, I have columns for every Twitter chat I participate in, with the organizer’s user column next to it. Then, when it’s time for that chat, I click and drag those two columns over by my home feed and notifications columns so I can monitor all four columns without scrolling around. Just hover over the lines below the number for the column, and a move icon will appear so you can click and drag the column.Use a Twitter client and create columns to see everything at one time.Click To Tweet
Step 3: Go with the flow!
It’s time to participate in the Twitter chat! Things will be a bit easier now that you’re organized, but you should just accept now that things move fast, and you will still probably be overwhelmed. Remember that Twitter chats are all about making new connections and building friendships. Don’t be afraid to jump into someone else’s conversation, people are expecting it and will accept you. You don’t have to answer every single question, and if you get in a really good conversation with another participant, don’t worry about everything else that’s going on. Go where the conversation takes you. And enjoy it!Twitter chats are all about making new connections and building friendships.Click To Tweet
A few favorite Twitter chats
- #createlounge: Wednesdays at 7 p.m. CST
- #ellechat: Thursdays at 7 p.m. CST
- #OWSchat: First Wednesday of each month at 8 p.m. CST
Share your tips on participating in Twitter chats in the comments, and let me know about your favorite Twitter chats! I’m always looking for more to check out.
P.S. I’m co-hosting #createlounge tomorrow night! We’re chatting about consistency in blogging. Hope to see you there at 7 p.m. CST!