Tweeting With Your Twitter Community: How To Participate In A Twitter Chat

By Jeff Hurt of Midcourse Corrections: Views From The Trenches. Follow him @JeffHurt.

Finding your community in Twitter can sometimes be a challenge, especially for Twitter beginners. Social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and NING have flourishing and established communities that are easy to find. Twitter has some growing and thriving communities too but it’s often a best-kept Twitter secret.

Enter #hashtags and Twitter chats.

Twitter chats offer an effective way to meet people with similar interests and share insights into specific topic. Currently there are more than 35 weekly scheduled Twitter chats on certain days and times with like-minded professionals discussing a variety of questions. Here’s how you can find your Twitter community and participate in a Twitter Chat.

Step 1: Find And Use The Hashtag

Using a hashtag, a symbol – # – followed by a name or abbreviation, people broadcast their tweets to a specific group and follow others tweeting with the same hashtag. The hashtag is one of the keys needed to engage successfully in a Twitter chat. Use the list below to find the Twitter chat and subsequent hashtag that interests you.

Step 2: Use A Twitter Chat Tool To Monitor The Conversation

Twitter veterans know that the second key to successful twitter chat participation is to fine-tune their Twitterstation to remove all the Twitter noise. Like dialing into your favorite radio station and removing all the unnecessary static and chatter, these tools help you follow the conversation without being bombarded by other unrelated tweets. A list of ten Twitter chat tools is listed below. Following a conversation with Twitter’s main Web page is difficult and by the time you hit refresh and find tweets with the hashtag, you’ve missed most of the conversation.

Step 3: Tweet Using These Twitter Chat Basics

Once you’ve identified the hashtag for your community and the Twitter chat tool that works best for you, it’s time to get involved. Login to Twitter and your Twitter chat tool at the appropriate date and time, and watch for the moderator to announce the start of the chat. Now that you know the hashtag, remember to include it in your tweets so others can see your comments and questions.

Most Twitter chats, like #journchat, have some type of established ground rules and culture as people discuss specific topics or questions. Many chats have a moderator to help guide and facilitate the discussion. For example, #eventprofs has a moderator for each chat and established moderator instructions and guidelines. Some Twitter chats allow participants to post random questions and some suggest that the group stay on topic. I’ve seen some Twitter chats with guest experts leading a discussion and answering questions. Some groups archive their weekly chats on a wiki, in their Linkedin group, on a website or on wtHashtag.

Step 4: Now Go, Tweet And Participate

With some practice, hashtags and one of these third party Twitter applications listed below, even beginners can tune-in and participate in a robust Twitter discussion. Here’s to finding your Twitter community and I hope to tweet with you in a Twitter chat in the future!

Twitter Chat Tools

Tweetchat

Tweetchat, a web-based interface, recently made some upgrades and you can use the upgraded version or old one. Login to tweetchat with your Twitter username and password. Once your login has been authenticated with Twitter, enter the hashtag. This will take you to the tweetchat room with your custom Twitter background where you’ll be able to follow the conversation. Tweetchat settings allow you to pause the chat, set the refresh rate, and feature or block specific users. Each tweet you enter into the box will automatically be tagged with the official hashtag. Note: If your username is not showing up in Tweetchat, contact the developers and let them know. (Tweetchat is my personal favorite.)

tweetchat

Tweetgrid

Tweetgrid, a web-based dashboard that allows you to search and view up to nine different hashtags at once. Unlike other Twitter chat tools, you do not need a Twitter account to follow a conversation but you will not be able to tweet without a Twitter account. Open Tweetgrid, choose a grid layout, enter your username, password, hashtag, and enter your tweet in tweet box. Tweetgrid offers settings, photos and DM. If you’re following more than one conversation, you’ll have to enter the hashtag in the appropriate box each time each time you tweet.

tweetgrid

Tweetdeck

You’ll have to download this free application to your desktop in order to use. Once downloaded, you’ll need to set one column to search the hashtag by clicking on the magnifying glass and entering the hashtag. You can move that column to the right or left in your Tweetdeck dashboard. You can also change the settings such as background color, font color, refresh rates, etc. Each time you tweet for the specific conversation, you’ll need to add the hashtag. (I use Tweetdeck as my normal Twitter interface and keep columns for following specific hashtags open always. That way I can connect with people in those communities outside of the scheduled Tweet chats.)

Twubs

A newer web-based interface that integrates a variety of media including photos and videos. Unlike tweetchat, tweetgrid and monitter, it also incorporates a URL shortening tool. Sign in to Twubs with your username and password, and enter the hashtag. Twubs automatically adds the hashtags to your tweets, allows you to filter users and has real time refreshing. Twubs also has a widget that you can embed on your website or blog.

Monitter

A web-based interface that allows you to follow up to three hashtags at once. You can only tweet to @replies or send retweets, and you’ll have to enter your username, password and hashtag each time you send a tweet. (This is my least favorite of all the Twitter chat tools.)

WhatTheHashtag (wtHashtag)

A web-based user-editable encyclopedia for hashtags; wiki of registered hashtags. This interface includes a variety of information about specific Twitter chats including a description, schedule and moderator, planned topic queue, stats and top contributors, the ability to view and save a transcript of tweets within a certain date and view the Twitter chat via Monitter. You cannot tweet from wtHashtag. Tip: If you want to know what a specific hashtag stands for, follow wtHashtag. Once they are following you, DM them the hashtag and they’ll reply with the definition on file.

wthashtag

RSS Feeds

If you like reading feeds, you can grab a feed for your hashtag group in Twitter search. Enter the hashtag and then copy the link in “Feed for this query” into your feed reader. Using RSS feeds, you can’t participate in the discussion and send tweets, but you can follow the chat.

TweeTree

Web-based interface that monitors hashtags. Login with username, password and enter hashtag in search function. TweeTree pulls in some additional content like photos, videos, blog posts of some approved vendors so that you can see the link’s content in your stream without clicking the link. You’ll have to remember to add the hashtag to your tweets when participating in the discussion in TweeTree.

tweetree

Roomatic

Web-based dashboard. Login with user name, password and enter hashtag. You’ll see the tweets in a horizontal grid format with a very small font. Roomatic does not have any settings that you can change to make the font size bigger or change the refresh rate. It does automatically include the hashtag of tweets. You cannot send a reply or DM through Roomatic.

Twemes

Web-based interface that lets you follow hashtag and conversation. You cannot tweet from Twemes.

List of Twitter Chats

Editable Google Doc list of Twitter chats created by Robert Swanwick @spkrinteractive.

Name Description Moderated by More Info When
#agchat For people in agriculture, farming, ranching, including those in the business of producing food, feed, fuel and fiber. @mpaynknoper http://wthashtag.com/agchat Tuesdays, 8-10 pm ET
#AgeOp For those interested in getting more out of life, marketing to the 50+ demographic, interested in the politics of aging, the tragedy of ageism, the explosion of masters athletics, the value of experience, the key to health and vitality, how the 50+ market uses the internet @kwidrick @ageopportunity http://wthashtag.com/AgeOp Thursdays 9-10 pm ET
#aptchat Chat to discuss the apartment and multifamily industry @LisaTrosien
@30Lines
http://wthashtag.com/aptchat Fridays 4-5 pm ET
#assnchat Open to any all members of the association community, including staff, consultants, volunteer leaders and members. Explore the present and future of associations. Bring your issues and questions! @pinnovation http://wthashtag.com/assnchat Tuesdays, 2-3 pm ET
#b2bmktgchat Focuses on business-to-business marketing @b2bmktgchat http://wthashtag.com/b2bmktgchat Wednesdays, 8-10 pm ET
#blogchat Bettering your blog @MackCollier http://wthashtag.com/blogchat Sundays 9-10 ET
#booktweet Chat about specific books. @LaShaeDorsey http://www.twibes.com/group/Booktweet Saturdays, 12 pm ET
#brandchat A discussion between experts, strategists, and those interested in learning more about personal branding and managing their personal brand. @brandchat @mariaduron @davidsandusky http://yourbrandchat.wordpress.com/ Wednesdays, 11 am  12 pm ET
#carchat Discussion about cars and the automotive industry. @michaelbanovsky http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=79495666551 Wednesdays, 8-10 pm ET
#caterchat catering pros (#caterchat) on trends + business strategies @caterchat Wednesdays 9-10 pm ET
#cmtychat Conversation about the business of online communities – building, managing, moderating and measuring. @sonnygill @bryanperson http://wthashtag.com/Cmtychat Fridays 1-2 pm ET
#DCTH Design Community Twitter Hours @chadengle
@DCTHteam
http://dcth.info Thursdays 6-8:30 pm ET
#EDCTH Euro Design Community Twitter Hours @chadengle
@svgrob
http://dcth.info Thursdays 2-5:30 pm ET
#editorchat a place for professional writers and editors who use the micro-blogging service Twitter to discuss how best to help one another. @LydiaBreakfast http://editorchat.wordpress.com/ Wednesdays, 8:30-11 pm ET
#eventprofs Meeting and event professionals @ready2spark http://eventprofs.pbworks.com Tuesdays 9-10 pm ET & Thursdays 12-1 pm ET
#foodchat Monthly conversation designed to bring consumers together with agriculture on the third Tuesday of each month to bridge the farm gate to the consumer plate. @foodchat @mpaynknoper http://wthashtag.com/foodchat 3rd Tuesday Monthly, 8-10 pm ET
#hcmktg Chat related to healthcare marketing. @hcmktg @IntervalChris @TalstoneDJ @reedsmith http://hcmktg.com/ Fridays 1-2 pm ET
#hcsm Healthcare Communication & Social Media community chat about communication and marketing practices @HealthSocMed @danamlewis http://www.healthsocmed.com/ Sundays 9-10 pm ET
#innochat On innovation @stonepayton Contact @stonepayton for Yammer login Thursdays 3-4 pm ET
#JapanTravel Travel Planning Tips & Advice for Japan @shanesakata @tokyotopia http://www.japandiscovered.com Fridays 12-1 pm Japan Time
#journ2journ Reporters help other reporters in some manner and discuss journalism challenges @journ2journ http://groups.poynter.org/members/blog_view.asp?id=160554&tag=journ2journ Thursdays 8-9:30 pm ET
#journchat Conversation between journalists, bloggers and public relations folks @PRSarahEvans http://wthashtag.com/journchat Mondays 8-11 pm ET
#litchat Mission is to connect readers with books and authors. @litchat http://litchat.net/ Mondays & Wednesdays 4-5 pm ET
#lrnchat For anyone interested in helping others learn, formal, informal and elearning, new approaches to workplace learning through social media, virtual worlds, and games, design, instructional design, metalearning, cognitive psych, and creating a healthy learning environment. Participants include corporate educators, homeschooling parents, college professors, K-12 educators, and out of the box thinkers who find learning fascinating. @marciamarcia http://lrnchat.wordpress.com http://wthashtag.com/lrnchat Thursdays 8:30- 9 pm ET
#platformchat Chat on the why and how to have a platform @thewritermama http://wthashtag.com/platformchat Fridays 2-3 pm ET
#poetry We talk poetry. Readers, writers, and all others encouraged to join. @gregpincus http://wthashtag.com/poetry Thursdays 9-10 pm ET
#pr20chat Discussion of where PR is heading @bethharte http://wthashtag.com/pr20chat Wednesdays, 8-9 pm ET
#racematters @blacksolutions Saturdays, Exact time TBA
#sbbuzz A weekly chat about small businesses for small business owners, techies, social media mavens and folks who love ‘em @sbbuzz
@pmohara
@mriggen
http://sbbuzz.biz Tuesdays, 8-10 pm ET
#smallbizchat Helpful tips and advice geared toward small business startups and those that have been in business for less than five years. @smallbizchat @smallbizlady @CathyWebSavvyPR http://wthashtag.com/smallbizchat Wednesdays, 8-10 pm ET
#smbiz Open chat session where small businesses of every kind can meet, network and ask all kinds of questions in any of the aforementioned areas @smbiz
@sternalpr
@sternalmrktg
http://www.understandingmarketing.com/2009/02/26/smbiz/ Tuesdays, 8-10 pm ET
#smchat A discussion on the power of social media among active practitioners and strategists exploring dynamics of social & professional interaction, twitter, online communities, and the evolution of knowledge networks @sourcepov http://wthashtag.com/Smchat Wednesdays, 1-2 pm ET
#spkrchat Professional speakers sharing ideas about their profession @spkrinteractive
@spkrchat
Wednesdays 9-10 pm ET
#talentnet Chat is for an audience of recruiters, sourcers, researchers and other HR professionals interested in social media for recruiting and branding. @fishdogs @pinkolivefamily http://www.fishdogs.com/labels/%23TalentNet.html Last Wednesday of month, 9-11 pm ET
#twchat Sharing best practice use of twitter. Avoid all the scams and get it here free @swanwick
@twchat
Tuesdays 12 pm ET
#tweetin @LinkedInExpert http://linkedintobusiness.com/?p=395 Thursdays 8-9:30 pm ET (sporadic)
#writechat @WritingSpirit http://wthashtag.com/writechat Sundays 3-6 pm ET
#youngmoms Advice, discussion among young moms (first child before 25) @theyoungmommy http://theyoungmommylife.com Wednesdays 9-10 pm ET

Comments

  • June 23, 2009

    Very informative Jeff. Good Job.

  • June 23, 2009

    good tips. I don’t even know about tweetchat before this.

  • June 23, 2009

    Cool! I didn’t have a clue that hastag chats were so organized, your post pointed me to a lot a helpful site, thanks!

  • June 23, 2009

    Great information

  • June 23, 2009
    Nikhil Vaswani

    Good article! Apart from Twitter, even LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook have advanced features that one needs to be aware of. I am personally more of a LinkedIn user.

    By the way, if you are looking to learn LinkedIn usage, a good reference is a new book called “How to REALLY use LinkedIn” by networking expert Jan Vermeiren. You can find a free lite version at http://www.how-to-really-use-linkedin.com/

  • June 23, 2009

    Thanks for including What the Hashtag in your list. Our transcript and hashtag stats are two features a lot of our users love. As it relates to posting to a chat from WTH, our next iteration of the site has a new hashtag widget that allows you to post, @reply or retweet content, plus users can filter the stream by tweets that have links, tweets with no links or tweets that have been retweeted.

    I have personally used both TweetGrid and TweetChat in previous chat sessions and been very impressed with each. They’ve also both driven our own view of what the posting model should look like, so we have them to thank.

    Also, if someone isn’t familiar with hashtag chats, this post will certainly help them get up to speed. Thanks for putting all of this information together!

  • June 23, 2009

    There is now another option for chatting on Twitter. Tinychat.com enable you to launch a very interactive chatroom w/ video and audio capabilities. It is pretty cool and Mashable.com has been using it for their Mashable Lounge–> http://mashable.com/chat/.

    You have the option of automatically tweeting anything that you say in the chatroom so that others will be drawn to the conversation and join the chatroom as well.

    The best option, by far, is the ability to have several people on video conference at the same time. So you can create an event where you have a moderator and several panelists.

    I am curently in the process of embedding the Tinychat feature into a website for a client of mine. It’s very easy as they let you copy and paste the embed code.

    Hope that helps!

  • June 23, 2009

    @JeffHurt You do such a great job of both keeping his finger on the pulse of current capabilities, but also driving for a better tomorrow. You “get” that in today’s world, it’s all about finding the right people/products and bringing them together to meet needs.

    Thx so much for pasting in the Twitter Chat Schedule. This space is going to move very quickly over the next few months so I will look forward to your update telling us all how to make it work for us.

  • June 23, 2009

    Thanks for including our chat in your list. I’d like to give 2 tips for using http://tweetgrid.com during a chat.

    1) If you use tweetgrid, try the link called “party .” The chat #hashtag goes in the top box, the hosts and/or guests @twitternames in the middle box ( no http:// etc needed), then your username in the bottom column. This brings up a page that has tweets in 3 columns:
    -the left column has all tweets using that #hashtag – so you can see the whole conversation
    -the middle column has the hosts and/or guest’s tweets, so you can see if they send out question, information, and their answers
    -And in the right column, you can see your @replies/mentions, when people RT your response to the chat, or if they direct a question or comment to you.

    In order to reply and RT using tweet grid there is one more step, you have to put in your username and password. You always do so at a risk, but Tweetgrid is a well known site, with a good reputation.

    Some of the chats prepare a tweetgrid ahead of time to help their audience out. I hope you don’t mind my example, our tweet info on Weds. June 24th #smallbizchat is available on our twitter account @smallbizchat, and we show our prepared “party mode” grid – you would just have to put your @username in the right hand column
    Weds. 6/24 8-9 pm ET #smallbizchat Leveraging LinkedIn 4 Yr Small biz w/ @IreneKoehler tweetgrid http://is.gd/19A7I

    One other tweetgrid tip that people often like is to remember to hit the stop and search buttons above the columns if the tweets are moving to fast for you to reply. You can also click the little plus sign below those 2 buttons and change the rate the tweets refresh – from 0 to 10 second, for example. You can also hit the star button to favorite a tweet, and the arrows to retweet or reply.

    Some chats, like ours also prepare a transcript afterwards, so people can see who participated and be sure to find and follow those whose response they liked. So be sure to check the chat accounts for that afterwards. We send ours out on @SmallBizChat

  • June 23, 2009
    Tanya Ryno
    @tanyaryno

    I knew about Twitter Chats … but honestly was unaware of the scheduled chats available.
    Great information.

    @tanyaryno

  • June 24, 2009

    #LitChat is MW *and Friday* EDT 4-5pm
    Friday is guest-hosted by a different author every week.
    @thandelike

  • June 24, 2009

    Some great tips and feedback here. Thanks all for sharing.

    @EzyBlogger, @macafarian, @rlbates, @tanyaryno, @spkrinteractive Thanks for the positive feedback & glad you enjoyed it.

    @paen Glad you learned about Tweetchat

    @Nikhil Vaswani looks like an interesting book, will have to check it out. Have to see my LinkedIn skills are fairly basic.

    @miketempleton Really enjoy wtHashtag’s compilation of twitter stats & information for chats.

    @philipnowak yes, tinychat should be included. I forgot it. Is there an option in Tinychat to make the text larger? I’m sure there is. Video conferencing is great too yet my experience with large corporations is that most do not have the capabilities on their desktops to particpate. Skype is not even considered in those companies yet. I deal with large health & dental insurance companies & we had to move away from video conferencing, screen sharing & live video streaming in order to accomodate our participants. I expect they’ll get there eventually.

    @CathyWebSavvyPR U provided some gems about using Tweetgrid. Those are going in my keeper file. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

    @thandelike Oops, didn’t mean to leave off your Friday chat. Glad you added it in the comments. Pls make sure you add it to @spkrinteractive’s Google Doc list of Twitter chats too.

  • June 24, 2009

    Jeff, you are welcome. Some folks find tweetgrid too busy, but if you remember to use the search and stop (but don’t forget to hit search again when you don’t see any new tweets – a common error I seem to make every week during the heat of the chat).

    I forgot one other item, if you a running a chat – you can create a party (or other-size/type of grid) and can click the “Full URL” or “Short URL” at the top of the page and then tweet it out from tweetgrid. Just be sure and do this without your username the right hand column (that’s for the participant to put their username in so they can see their replies and mentions). This allows potential participants to be sure to follow the host and guest so they don’t miss questions and answers. You can also copy and past it into an email, facebook link or Tweet and invite people to join your chat using tweetgrid.

    I usually remind people during our chat to put their username & password in so tehy can tweet, put their username into the right column so they can see their @replies and mentions and to remember to use search & stop to cotrol flow of tweets – as we often get folks new to tweetgrid.

  • June 25, 2009
    April Mann
    @aprilmann

    Thanks Jeff for posting! And so glad you included the company I work for – Twubs.

    Hashtags continue to be the most confusing aspect of twitter for most new users. Yet – you’re right – are so important in finding a community on twitter.

    We’ve also recently launched a Conference/ Live Event Suit with tons of fabulous new features helping create relevant conversation and community around any event. http://twubs.com/twubseventsinfo And this really is just the beginning for us. We have tons on our development roadmap ahead!

    Thanks again for compiling all this great information into one post. Such an incredibly important topic for relevancy. Teach on, good sir!

  • June 26, 2009

    I am surprised to see no credit to http://www.meryl.net/2009/05/list-of-twitter-chats/ as this and the how to article came after. The chat list has a comment from this poster, which shows he has seen the original list. Just think credit is due… that’s all.

  • June 27, 2009

    @May Kler – It’s a collective list of chats that are run and managed by dozens of other people, and the list here, and at the other post are neither identical nor conclusive.

    Thank you for letting TwiTip readers know of ANOTHER list, really. But the posts and lists are different, and neither author can claim to deserve credit for a list of things they didn’t even create themselves. It’d be like creating a list of all the cars that Chrysler ever made in the 80’s and then when someone creates a list of all the cars they ever made in the 80’s and 90’s, having to “give credit” to the person who made the first list. It’s kind of silly, don’t you think? I mean credit is due when it’s due, and had he made an obvious copy of the other list verbatim I’d agree with you… but that’s simply not the case.

  • June 27, 2009

    @May Kler, thanks for adding that link and I do appreciate that Meryl Evans was one of the people who gathered Twitter chat information in one place. Hat tips to her and her readers. I agree with Lara that the real credit belongs to those individuals that started each chat, those that moderate them and those that will create chats in the future.

    It was not my intent to be the final say on a list of Twitter chats or appear as if I was copying her or anyone else. It was, and is, my intent to help others find a community of like-minded individuals in Twitter through Twitter chats. Building relationships and community is important to me.

  • June 30, 2009

    Just noticed an error – #smallbizchat is 8-9 pm ET, not 8-10 pm. Occasionally if the conversation is going string we go a little overtime, but basically 8-9 ET. Also to find out each week’s topics head to http://twitter.com/smallbizchat

  • June 30, 2009

    Thanks Cathy for the correction to @smallbizchat Wednesdays, 8-9 pm ET! Sorry I missed that the first time around.

  • July 18, 2009

    Hey folks! Two things to share!

    1- #MiFiMon- a discussion hosted by some pretty incredible minds in the microfinance world! Next one is this Monday-July 20 from 12pm-2pm CST. Always impressed.

    2- @imaginethistv. A new approach to reality television. Check em out.

  • August 11, 2009

    Would be great if you could consider adding the newly launched http://twebevent.com to the list. Anyone can create their own live video and Twitter mash-up… for FREE!

  • April 9, 2010

    Thanks for doing the leg work and explaining the chat tools for us. It makes it a lot easier to start taking advantage of these chats.

  • June 22, 2010

    The Twitter Chat Schedule now lists over 145 chats: http://bit.ly/ChatSched

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