It’s come to my attention recently that a lot of writers still don’t get Twitter. As someone who is completely enamored with the platform, I want to bring you all into the light! I want everyone to love Twitter and find it as useful as I do. Okay, I know it’s best to just encourage you to find what works best for you. But I do want to give you pointers for Twitter, so maybe one day, slowly, you’ll find your own way into the light — you know, if that’s what you’re into or whatever.
One of my favorite tools for networking on Twitter are #chats. These are interactive conversations via Twitter hashtags, scheduled for specific times.
For example, #DIYwriteCHAT is the hashtag for our Twitter chat of DIY Writers, which happens every 1st Tuesday at
7 p.m. PST - Now at 7 pm ET! Click here for step-by-step instructions to join us.
Chats are similar to other Twitter hashtags in that they’re a way to share and discover information and users on a particular topic. They’re different in that they occur at a specific time. They can be intimidating your first time, so here are some tips for joining a chat and using it to make new connections and build your network:
1. Optimize your profile beforehand.
You’re going to get tons of new eyes on your profile, and probably new followers, from a chat. Make sure your profile image and bio convey the message you want them to see. Also, have a plan for engaging and useful tweets in the days following the chat to make sure your new followers stick around.
2. Use TweetChat.com.
The most confusing part about a Twitter chat is trying to follow it! Thankfully, TweetChat.com exists to create chat rooms around hashtags. Just go to the website, sign in with your Twitter username and password, and enter the hashtag you want to follow next to the “Go” button at the top.
3. Don’t try to keep up with everything!
Many chats have hundreds of participants, so the “noise” can be overwhelming. Don’t fret trying to keep up with and reply to all the posts. Browse posts as they come up in the TweetChat feed, and use the Pause button to stop the feed while you reply to some.
4. Start on time and stick around until the end.
Like with any networking meet up, you’ll get the most out of your participation if you’re present for the whole thing. “Arriving” to the chat a few minutes early allows you to introduce yourself before things get hectic for the hosts. Staying involved until the end (they’re usually about an hour long) ensures you don’t miss anything, and gives you a chance to thank the hosts at the end.
5. Let your followers know about the chat ahead of time.
Tweeting about the chat a little before it begins is a good way to both encourage your followers to join and to warn them of the coming onslaught of tweets — everything you share in the Twitter chat is published to your feed, just like any other tweet.
To avoid the onslaught…
6. Contain your tweets within the chat by @replying.
Remember, when your tweet begins with an @handle, not all of your followers will see it. By @replying to those in the chat, you can keep your chat tweets from overwhelming your followers’ feeds.
7. Promote the chat by sharing select tweets and adding context.
If someone in the chat shares something particularly inspiring, retweet it to your followers! Sharing interesting posts with the chat’s hashtag will help put the chat on your followers’ radar. Remember, a chat is usually a networking and promotional opportunity for the hosts, as well, so your efforts to promote it will be appreciated.
8. Follow up with Tweeps you connected with during the chat.
There will probably be 2 or 3 people who stick out to you in the chat room. After the chat, take the time to check out their profiles, follow them, thank them for engaging, and check out their website. You’re already primed to be BFFs — you have the chat topic in common, right?
Ready to give it a try?
Join us for the first #DIYwriteCHAT every 1st Tuesday at 7 pm ET!
Share your Twitter handle in the comments to let us know you’ll be there — I’ll stop by to say hello + give you a reminder of the chat time :)
Featured image by Kevin Cole (Creative Commons)