A few weeks ago I participated in my very first Twitter chat. Easy peasy I thought, I’ll just jump on while finishing up some other work and casually join the conversation. I’m sure people who participate in Twitter chats frequently are able to jump in and out just fine, but starting out that was not the case. Keeping up with the conversation was more work than I bargained for.

If you aren’t familiar, a Twitter chat is a specified time people get together (on Twitter) to discuss a topic. Closely related to the live tweet, but centered around conversation, not an event. Our chat of choice is #DigiBlogChat hosted by @Carol_Stephen every Tuesday at 1 PM Pacific time. Basically, you log in, pull up the hashtag and jump in. As easy as that sounds, there’s more to it and these tips can help you get more out of your Twitter chat experience.

Keep Your Friends Close

Like walking into a crowded party or busy networking event, sometimes the most comfortable thing to do is find a familiar face. The same applies for a Twitter chat. If you recognize the Twitter handle of a friend or peer, reach out and say hello. Or stack the deck and convince a friend to go to the party with you. Now you have someone you know will chat with you, respond or maybe even retweet your comment. This isn’t the only way to start a conversation, but it is helpful to get started.

Follow The Leader

If you jump in to the middle of a chat, good luck to ya. I had no idea what was going on until I found the person asking the questions. If you have never participated in a Twitter chat, most of the time questions are asked by one person on a specific topic and people tweet their responses with the hashtag.

Sometimes the conversation takes on a life of it’s own and people respond to comments and forget to mark which questions they are answering as they go off on tangents. It can be tricky to track down the initial question. Instead of looking through the hashtag feed, go back to the moderator and keep their twitter profile open in a separate tab, that way you can keep an eye on the questions and avoid wasting time digging for the topic everyone is talking about.

Be Adventurous

The best part of these chats is the opportunity to meet new Twitter friends. Don’t be afraid to reach out and respond to someone you don’t know. Say hello to some new Twitter friends. The best part of a chat on a topic relevant to you is the people involved. Participants are interested in your industry and are more likely to have a conversation with you down the road. Meet likeminded people and get your chat on.

Follow Back

Now that we’ve arrived at the party and made some new friends, don’t forget to follow them. It’s like forgetting to ask for a business card at a networking event. If you miss the opportunity it’s much harder to go back later and track them down. If you’re chatting with someone, make sure to follow them and if people follow you, see what they’re about and follow them back.

All in all, chats are a lot of fun and worth the extra effort. It’s a great way to meet people in your industry, make some friends and share your thoughts. Check out #DigiBlogChat this week and say hello. If you need more guidance, check out our social media starter kit to learn a thing or two.

Social Media Starter Kit