Recently, I’ve been getting very into Twitter chats. As a shy introvert, it’s exhilarating to get such instant positivity and responses to your thoughts. You leave the hour feeling like you’ve been a part of something, you’ve been social and active within a community. It’s pretty neat. Inspired by The Travel Hack’s recent announcement of the #Save4Trek Twitter Chat (starting March 6, click the link for more details), I decided to go over my own ideas about these chats. As I foray into this new world–very new to me, as I’ve always struggled with being active on any social media–there are a few useful tips I’ve come across. They may seem simple, but they can really make the practice go a lot more smoothly.
Save the date
Go to Travelogx and browse through the upcoming chats. If you use Google Calendars to keep your schedule, add it in there with the hashtag. Personally, I like to take part in #GirlsTravel, #CultureTravChat, and #TRLT. I also follow a lot of travel bloggers, and if I happen to notice a chat, I might join in randomly.
Use a dashboard
Personally, I’ve dabbled between Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, which seem to be the big players in this arena. Either way, you should set up a few streams before you get started. My dashboard looks like this during a chat: Home — #ChatHashtag — @Mentions — @Notifications
Home, mentions, and notifications can all be added using the add column button. To add the specific hashtag, search for it in the search box. The option to add this column should come up on the results, at the bottom for Tweetdeck anyway. This setup allows you to follow the conversation, while also seeing who is responding to or following you. This is so much easier than keeping up on twitter itself, where notifications seem to disappear from the corner instantly.
Answer the questions
Don’t be shy about saying something. Everyone is in the same position–thinking off the tops of their heads (mostly anyway). Just be honest and don’t worry about crafting something clever. I find that I favourite and retweet a lot based on how relatable the tweets are.
Respond when people mention you
Building connections is a big part of the practice. How will you build anything significant if you are ignoring or simply favouriting responses? Again, you don’t have to give a genius response, just be friendly and open. However, as in real life, there’s no need to force it or continue a conversation that’s going nowhere. Just move on.
Don’t be stingy with favourites and retweets
Don’t expect lots of attention and refuse to pay it back yourself. If something speaks to you or is very clever, give it some attention. If someone says something that interests you, ask them a question or give them credit for their insight. Be that likeable and positive person that I know you can be.
But, don’t favourite and retweet everything
Conversely, your followers might get annoyed if you spam their feed with every minor post that comes along. Go with your instinct, stick to the tweets that speak to you or stand out on the page.
Don’t burn out
If the topic turns out to be something you really don’t have interest in, or the questions seem to be overly repetitive, you don’t have to stick it through. Chats are normally an hour. That’s a long time to stick around if you are really uninterested. Likewise, don’t force yourself to engage. There are so many chats going on every week that you really don’t have to worry about it. Just pick a different one. It should be a fun and interactive experience. If it’s not, feel free to get outta there.
Do you take part in Twitter chats? Which ones do you enjoy?
(feature image by Rosaura Ochoa, with modifications)