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, 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.)
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.
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.)
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Web-based interface that lets you follow hashtag and conversation. You cannot tweet from Twemes.
List of Twitter Chats
|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
|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
|http://dcth.info||Thursdays 6-8:30 pm ET|
|#EDCTH||Euro Design Community Twitter Hours||@chadengle
|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
|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
|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
|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
|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|