One of the best and simplest ways to build a loyal following of people who are active and engaged on Twitter is participating in Twitter Chats (or Twitter Party). And thankfully for you, if there is a subject of interest, there is likely someone who organizes a chat about it.
What is a Tweet Chat, you ask? It’s a real-time, interactive discussion using a keyword hashtag to funnel tweets related to that topic into a single stream, making it easy for participants to see all the responses relating to the discussion.
The two most common forms are 1) Question and Answer discussions where participants are invited to share their tips on a particular subject, 2) Expert Interviews where an expert leads the discussion and guests are invited to chime in.
How to Participate in a Twitter Chat
#1: Find an Active Chat to Join — Check out the Twitter Chat directories for upcoming chats related to your area of interest or watch your Twitter stream for chat announcements. Many web communities host regular chats.
#2: Review the Chat Topic or Theme — Read through the chat announcement to find out what is being covered and if there are any prizes, check for clues to the prize answers. If it’s an area that you specialize in, it’s a good idea to prepare a few 120 character responses ahead of time.
#3: Use a Tweet Chat Client — Login to a Twitter chat client like TweetChat.com or Twubs.com or download TweetDeck and set up the chat hashtag as a separate column so you can keep up with the discussion realtime. Be ready with a backup in case your favorite tool isn’t available (as often happens with technology).
#4: Include the Hashtag in Your Tweets — Don’t forget to include the hashtag in your responses so everyone participating in the Twitter chat can see them. Chat clients like TweetChat and Twubs automatically add the hashtag, but if you are using another platform, you may have to add it manually.
#5: Share Helpful Tips — Stand out from the crowd by sharing your amazing, insightful (and easily retweetable) tips! Make sure they are relevant to the discussion and not just spammy comments aimed at monopolizing an active hashtag.
#6: Comment and Retweet Others — Take the time to comment on and retweet other people’s responses. This is a prime opportunity to build REAL connections, not just gain followers through the random chance game of following.
#7: Ask Questions — Bring your questions to the chat as chances are good that someone there will have an answer for you or at least a bit of good advice. If the chat features a particular expert, address your question directly to that person.
#8: Follow the Other Participants — Before you leave the chat stream, make sure to follow the other participants who you connected with during the chat. If it helps you stay organized, add them to a follower list so you can continue to build on that new connection.