What Are Twitter Chats?

I’m surprised by how many Twitter users don’t know what Tweetchats are. I made a mention of them yesterday on my Twitter feed and several people inquired about them, so here’s the low-down about Twitter chats:

How They Work:

what are twitter chats

bird image via flickr user elkekarin

We all know what hashtags are on Twitter. They help us keep track of topics of discussion.

Every Twitter chat centers around a specific hashtag designed for the chat. You use that hashtag to follow the conversations centered around the topic.

Twitter chats are like roundtable discussions. There’s a specific topic and people often come prepared with questions or specific points of view to share, but everyone is welcome to weigh in and share their own thoughts.

An Example:

Many of the chats I participate in are geared toward marketing, like #mmchat, #socialchat and #atomicchat. These are weekly chats, lasting for about an hour, with a chat host, a guest and a targeted topic. For instance, last night’s #atomicchat was all about reaching your audience and the guest of note was Chris Brogan. The chat topic is used as a guide to facilitate conversation.

To further guide the discussion and add value to the participants, the chat host, in this case @Atomic_Reach, came armed with a set of questions for Chris. Twitter chats are open forums, so while we’re all there to tap into the expertise of the guest, everyone is welcome to chime in with answers to the questions.

Why They Matter:

In my opinion, not enough people use Twitter chats. They are one of the best kept secrets of Twitter. Primarily,  business people use them to connect with one another and share creative ideas. In some ways, they are like online networking events without the awkward small talk.

The entertainment industry is getting in on the Twitter chat game with actors live-tweeting and conversing with fans during shows. Nearly every Tuesday night you can see #PLLaywithShay trending because ABCFamily capitalizes on their Pretty Little Liars fanbase through a Twitter chat with Shay Mitchell.

Occasionally, SyFy does the same thing with Being Human cast members. More and more television shows are jumping on the Twitter chat bandwagon to entice viewers to watch the show live, rather than dvr it. This creates viewer loyalty and pulls ratings away from the competition.

Twitter chats are an untapped resource for connecting with like-minded people.

Chats don’t have to center around business or television shows. They can center around ideas and movements, too. Or even something as simple as a book club. There are a few great book club Twitter chats out there. There are also some great chats about fitness and wellness, too.

You could create a monthly Twitter chat about your local community, causes or just to chat about the state of the world. Twitter chats often take a while to build steam, so you have to be diligent at getting the word out there, and don’t give up on your chat just because it takes a while to build an audience.

The only drawback of Twitter chats is that they result in a lot of tweets. This can be a turn off to some of your followers, who may not be interested in the topic. Of course, there are plenty of services that allow them to mute hashtags, so they won’t have to deal with the influx of tweets.

Do any of you have a favorite Tweet chat? Let me know in the comments.

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