Twitter chats are all the rage these days. Even people I know who swore they would never tweet have gotten into them, and more than one of those same naysayers are now running their own.
No, it isn’t some kind of high tech mind control.
Twitter just offers us a unique form of social networking, and it is difficult not to embrace everything that comes along with it. Especially the communication opportunities created by a Twitter chat.
Twitter Chat Tools
You can find chats already in progress here, listed by days of the week. But you can also host your own, and this is especially helpful to blogs that want to fully engage readers on a deeper level than the usual profile or website comments. To follow the chat, try TwChat developed by ViralContentBuzz. I tried many chat tools but I find that one to be most user friendly. It also lets you follow the chat mentors’/speakers’ stream easier and highlights questions.
There is a certain set of guidelines, Twitter Chat Etiquette if you like, that I recommend anyone learn and follow before taking part. Twitter chats are not the old school chatrooms you might be used to, or message boards or forums. They aren’t even like other social networks, that let you maintain a running thread on Facebook or Reddit. Twitter is something altogether different, and so the rules have to be adapted to fit.
Twitter Chat Rules
While most chats will have their own set of rules for you to follow, here are some that you should keep in mind no matter what.
1. Introducing Yourself to the Chat
You should never do multiple tweets introducing yourself. Instead, use a single tweet that gives a quick hello and says who you are. It is polite and it will help you to integrate yourself into the conversation. Even if you are late getting there.
2. Read Past Posts Before Posting
Whether you are there in the beginning or get there late, you need to have a full understanding of what has already been said. This will keep you working at the pace of the conversation without derailing it by accident. Make sure you scroll up and catch up before you speak, even before introducing yourself.
3. Remember There Is a Schedule
Twitter chats are usually maintained on a tight schedule to allow everyone to make comments or ask questions. This will usually include an introduction, sections for Q&A or guest speakers, times to discuss specific elements of the topic, and a closing statement. Keep this in mind and don’t try to pull things back into another part of the discussion or jump ahead. It has been planned carefully, and it isn’t fair to the host.
4. Come Prepared
Before you enter a chat you should be aware of what is being discussed, and if any special speakers will be attending. That way you can do some research, check out current events that are related, and some up with a couple of questions to ask. Make sure you have these at the time the chat begins, so you can engage the other users in an organized way.
5. Only Contribute Valuable Info
Remember when I said this is not a traditional chatroom? You have to resist the urge to spam the chat with unrelated information, comments or even jokes. Don’t get me wrong, a little socialization is just fine, and you can make people laugh. But context is needed, and going off topic is a quick way to get yourself banned. Because it takes away from the time others have to contribute. Only post if you have something to say.
6. Keep Side Discussions In PM’s
If there is an off-topic issue you want to discuss with someone, or if a conversation between you is stretching a bit and it is time to move on in the chat, switch to PM’s. There is no reason you guys can’t keep talking, and you can even include multiple people in the messages. But it should not be done in the public chat where it might disturb others.
7. Use People’s Twitter Handles
When replying or speaking to someone, make sure to ‘@’ them. You should use their whole handle, not their real name. Remember that everyone might not be on a real-name basis, so won’t know who you are referring to. Using an incomplete screenname also won’t properly tag them, and so they might miss it.
8. Don’t Be Rude
This one should be a given, but a lot of people will hide behind a computer screen and be rude to people in a way they wouldn’t be face to face. Keep it civil, friendly and polite. If a debate breaks out then make sure you remain on good terms while arguing it, and don’t let it get person.
Twitter chats can be different in styles but using common sense rules of being polite and professional always helps. Just listen and learn – then talk!
ReTweeting is another effective form of interaction on Twitter. Here’s a handy Infographic from QuickSprout about the science of ReTweets.
How Is Your Twitter Chat Etiquette?
Do you have some etiquette tips for Twitter chats? Let us know in the comments.