How Twitter Chats can build your Twitter network

Have you participated in a Twitter Chat? Personally, being fairly new to the Twitter game (at least taking it seriously), I was a bit nervous to jump into one for the first time. Do you have to be invited? Do you announce your presence? Do you just respond at will? What if they think my answers are dumb? What if I can’t keep up? What if I commit a social media faux pas I didn’t even realize existed?

Fear not. You’re not alone. And Twitter Chats aren’t that threatening.

I recently found #RaganSocial – a Twitter Chat that meets every Wednesday at 3pm CST to discuss public relations and social media. The first time I participated I barely joined in the conversation. I didn’t realize that they posted the Twitter Chat questions ahead of the meeting time, so I had no idea what the discussion was going to be and everything went by so fast. The second time I was a little wiser and read the questions ahead of time with some answers in mind. Everyone was surprisingly welcoming, especially the moderator @SamHosenkamp, it almost felt like a face-to-face meeting. The third time, I was Twitter Chatting like a pro – joining in conversations, adding to the content – it was great!

And then, like magic, my Twitter network began to expand. Okay, maybe not like magic, but with each Twitter Chat I gain 10 or so new connections. And they’re quality connections too, because they’re in my line of work and they’re actively on Twitter, so their feeds are providing quality content to my Twitter feed.

Even though I’m new to Twitter Chats, I wanted to share some tips for some fellow newbies to get you started:

  • Find Twitter Chats that are relevant to you. A quick Google search will help guide you, but once you start following other people who share similar interests, you can catch them in the middle of a Twitter Chat and check it out.
  • If it’s a weekly Twitter Chat, spend the first week just observing. You’ll learn the nuances of the specific chat. (It’s okay to stalk, no one knows.)
  • See if they post the questions ahead of time, so you’ll know what to expect.
  • Have two windows open, one to view the Twitter Chat, and one to tweet. This way, you won’t have to ‘step away’ from the conversation to write your tweet
  • Be sure your feed is showing “All Tweets” not just “Top Tweets” – you don’t want to miss out on something.
  • Just before the chat starts, introduce yourself and let them know it’s your first chat. If it’s anything like Ragan Social, they’ll welcome you with open arms.
  • Share and reply to other people’s tweets. It’s a social network, but a Twitter Chat is even more intense socializing. You’re not on an island here.
  • When the moderator poses a question (Q1:) reply with an answer (A1:) – please don’t repeat Q1, it’s confusing and makes you look like a newbie.
  • After the Twitter Chat, follow those people who connected with you, or who provided quality input into the conversation. Now is your time to jump on that connection, don’t miss your window of opportunity. This is the key takeaway here – don’t forget this step!

So there you have it. Twitter Chats aren’t as scary as they may seem. Yes, it is very fast-paced, but you’ll be alright. I hope to see you in a Ragan Social one week!

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