A lot has been written about the basic techniques of how to approach a Twitter chat, how to follow a Twitter chat, and things like that. In fact, this post from the BlogWorld folks lists 26 posts about Twitter chats that should give you a pretty good summary of that kind of information. But today, I want to talk with you a little bit about something that doesn’t get talked about as much, and that is how to get the most that you can out of participating in a Twitter chat.
Twitter chats are interesting because they take the whole world of Twitter and minimize it into a much smaller group and a specific topic. That said, your approach to Twitter as a whole can be formulated and refined as you make your way through Twitter chats. The following are some mannerisms I’ve developed over the last year. That’s not to say they are the right ways to do it, but I have found chats have become increasingly rewarding as I have followed these basic ideas, so hopefully it will work the same way for you.
1. It’s a dance, not open mic night: There is a lot of pressure, I think, when you are in a chat to say things that really make an impact on the conversation. People want to get retweeted 20 times and have people come back at them days later and say, “Man, you were so brilliant in that chat!” Sometimes you do get yourself retweeted, and sometimes people do compliment you on something you said. However, that’s not really trying to participate in a chat, right? That’s just trying to get, well, retweets. Try to alter your focus more towards conversing and less from trying to get yourself lots of retweets.
2. Retweeting others can get boring for you and can bug others: There is a fine line between retweeting really great stuff so that your followers can see it and retweeting everything so you can stay in the mix. I was in a chat once where someone retweeted everything the moderator was saying, including basic bio information for the person who was a special guest for the chat. If most of your time in a chat is spent retweeting others, it’s not going to feel as rewarding for you (I’d think) and it’s not really going to seem like you’re offering a lot to the chat. Imagine going to a webinar and just repeating everything the presenter said. Kind of weird, right? Try to balance your retweeting with replying to people who say stuff you like. This makes your approach more conversational and more engaging.
3. Try to have a 12:1 ratio between replies to others and things you say yourself: I learned the 12:1 ratio when I was still pretty new to the online world. Chris Brogan wrote in a blog post that for every time you want to promote yourself, you should promote 12 other people. I still try to use that rule when I’m in a chat. In fact, I try to limit myself to 2 tweets that I just toss out there on my own. I reply to the moderator, I reply to other chat participants, and people still talk back at me. I may not get as many retweets, but it’s a lot more fun!
4. Promoting yourself in the middle of a conversation can get old super-quick: I’ve debated this with people before. To me, a chat is not the time to tweet links to your blog posts, especially if those posts aren’t exceedingly relevant to what is being discussed. Most chats will give you a chance to introduce yourself and you can link to your blog then, but posting lots of links to your site gets distracting, and most people will probably not click to it right then anyway. Why? Because they’re chatting!
5. Acting like a poop makes everyone feel stinky: Getting into tiffs in the middle of a Twitter chat is kind of like having a big fight at a pleasant family restaurant. It just makes everyone feel uncomfortable and awkward. If you find that someone is treating you poorly, try to take the hashtag off of your exchange. Contact the moderator and let them know that someone is being abusive. But if you fight back in the middle of the chat, even if you are 100% innocent, you will look bad.
Following these five general concepts have made chats really fun for me. They have enabled me to meet and network with a lot of great people, I’ve been able to learn a lot, and it’s more enjoyable than tweeting at yourself for an hour (in my opinion). Then again, I could be wrong!
Let’s talk about it!
Image by Robbie Ribeiro. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Robmania