Best Practices and Howto for a Twitter Hashtag Chat

islands magazine twitter header
Hashtag chats on Twitter are one of the best ways to meet new people, learn new things (it’s a very dynamic form of crowd-sourcing!), share your experience and build your expertise. They can be a bit overwhelming though until you get a handle on them, so here is a cheat sheet to help you jump in the first time as a pro!

1) Have links you want to share prepared ahead of time, preferably with your favorite URL shortener. I love Bit.ly, and they just keep adding more and better features.

2) Attend the chat at www.tweetchat.com. This – in my opinion – is the only way to keep up with the fast moving conversation! Plus, it automatically adds the hashtag for you – so less typing. I find it nearly impossible to attend a Twitter chat on my iPhone – though an iPad works fine. The conversation just moves too fast for my thumbs to keep up on the small screen! You can follow it though, and favorite tweets that you want to follow up on later.

3) The chat moderator will usually have 6-10 questions prepped in advance, and ideally has shared the general topic a few days in advance. The enables people to tell others who have something to contribute. For example, Islands Magazine recently had their weekly chat focus on Maui. A few of us learned about it in advance (Thanks @MauiPhotoFest!) and were able to get up early (yes that is normal in Hawaii) to join in at 7 am and share all our favorite places and things to do.

4) When you first join the chat (whether early, on-time, or late – it’s all OK!) please introduce yourself briefly and why you are there. This helps you get into the conversation and also helps others steer relevant questions or comments toward you.

5) The moderator will post discussion questions formatted with Q1, Q2, and so forth. “Q1: What is your favorite beach on Maui?” If you have a response, start it with A1. “A1: Baldwin Beach in the morning for sunrise with my dog! Few people, lots of magic.” This helps everyone track the conversation, as there are typically lots of comments interwoven.

6) Do retweet a comment that you find really valuable; this also allows your followers who are not on the chat to see that message.

7) Give shoutouts and recommendations to others. The Maui discussion on #IslandsChat was so much fun as we were a firehose of mentions of all the cool Maui people and businesses! This is where the prep comes in again too. I was caught off guard, as I hadn’t thought ahead about what the questions might be. So I had a few browser windows open jumping back and forth to grab twitter handles and web addresses to share!

8) After the chat, go follow some new peeps – you just had a great opportunity to interact with people first hand, so build your network based on the people with whom you had a connection. Plus, check your new followers, as you are sure to gain a few assuming you have contributed to the conversation.

9) If you want to see (or share or report on) the results, wait about an hour till after the chat has wound down, and head over to www.hashtracking.com, and get a full report of all the tweets, and the top tweeters. This is time sensitive – they pull from within the past 24 hours, so don’t delay! I always do a print command and save as a PDF so I have an archive when it is going to be part of my reporting. Here is the archive from #IslandsChat about Maui.

10) If you want to find hashtag chats on topics of interest, there is a public Google doc you can reference. Be sure to check this before you start a new hashtag chat, to make sure you are not overlapping with one that is similar! And if you do create a new chat, be sure to add yours to the doc. They are usually offered once a week, every other week, or once a month. It’s great to add that tag to your Twitter bio if you are the moderator, and ideally have an informational web page about the chat that you include with the chat announcements every week.

A few tweets from #IslandsChat, all about Maui!








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Aloha,
roxanne-sig