joining twitter chats

Toolkit

A Twitter chat is an informal online debate that takes place at a specific time around a predetermined subject, using a hashtag (#) as a flag that binds the conversation. Twitter chats are an excellent way to use Twitter professionally to discuss news, issues and topics of mutual interest with peers, academics, students, researchers etc.

Twitter chats are in many ways easier to engage with than webinars as you don’t have to register. They are public and open to any Twitter user to join. They can be a excellent tool for academic and professional support and for sourcing opportunities for CPD.

Twitter chats are designed around a host or moderator chairing the event. The host or chair poses questions to prompt responses from participants and encourage interaction among the group. Chats typically last about an hour.

You can participate in a Twitter chat simply by entering the chat’s hashtag into a Twitter search and interacting with people there during the debate.

If the chat topic is of interest to you it is well worth your while getting on board, even if you just choose to follow the conversation without joining the debate. You may be surprised how much you will learn!

Twitter chat tips

How to join Twitter chats

  • At a basic level you can join through your Twitter account
  • Tools such at Tweetdeck can make chats easier to follow
  • Twitter chats are often hosted via a dedicated website e.g. We Communities which can make debates easier to follow.

The We Communities website hosts regular pharmacy and other healthcare Twitter chats.

Here are some tips from James Andrews from We Communities on getting the most out of Twitter debates:

Before the chat starts

You need to have a Twitter account to join a Twitter chat, so you may need to set one up.

  • Always let your Twitter followers know you are joining a Twitter chat. Share promotional tweets about the event and invite others to join
  • Join the Twitter chat a few minutes before it starts and announce your presence using the chat hashtag (#)
  • Don’t be nervous. At first Twitter chats can be intimidating, but moderators and participants will appreciate your involvement.

During the debate

  • Observe the chat first to get a feel for the conversation and flow of the event
  • Reply directly for targeted conversations with one or two people. Include the relevant user handles (account names). With the 140 character tweet limit your targeting will be restricted
  • Always use the chat hashtag with every reply
  • If you start your tweet with a handle (@xxxx), include a ‘.’ in front of @ if you want your tweet to be seen by all your followers
  • Always be polite and positive. Standard Twitter etiquette applies
  • Watch for tweets from the chat host as these will help guide the conversation
  • It’s OK to dip in and out of a Twitter chat. Join it for the time you have and don’t feel guilty if you can’t stay for the whole duration. You can always catch up on whole conversation later
  • Some chats are very fast with lots of participants but you don't have to interact with absolutely everyone
  • It’s normal to see some repetition of comments as people retweet what others have said so don’t be confused or put off by this
  • Enjoy the experience and make full use of the opportunities it provides.

After the event

  • If you are unable to join a chat but still want to follow it you can read it after the event by searching the hashtag
  • Look out for chat summaries from the host
  • Follow up useful leads and areas of interest after the chat. You never know where interesting new connections will take you!

For further tips about joining Twitter debates go to the We Communities website.

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