I have lamented in the past about how Twitter is not Facebook, and I still believe that. I use Facebook for, well, Facebook’s sake, although not much. It’s mainly for the Agent Palmer Facebook page, to keep those fans who “like” that page informed, but rarely beyond that. Twitter, on the other hand, I enjoy as my own personal digital newspaper of sorts, as well as a community of never-ending and ongoing conversations.
But it can be overwhelming with the more than 232 million users, and the large percentage of those that are bots. It can sometimes feel as though you are talking to the wall.
Then I discovered Twitter Chats.
The Twitter Chat (sometimes called the Tweet Chat) is a great way to have a specific conversation with like-minded individuals or learn from experts, no shouting at the wall required.
There seems to be no shortage of topics to choose ranging from professional sharing sessions to casual chats, but they are all fun and engaging. Want to learn about SEO or how to improve your blog? Want to talk about nostalgia or science fiction? You’re covered. If you think something is missing, you can start your own.
But first, let’s look into how they work.
There is always a moderator, and it’s usually the same person with an occasional guest spliced in. Over the course of an hour, an average of eight questions are asked in the form of Q1: ???. Those following the hashtag can than respond with A1: … and so it begins. But it’s more than that. Commonly, questions will spark complete side conversations that will take place while the remaining questions are being asked.
The aforementioned guests are usually experts in the field who are also asked the questions, but everyone is encouraged to chime in and answer as well as asking follow-up questions. Sometimes there are even free chats, where there are no set questions and those participating are asked to provide questions for everyone to answer. In this scenario the moderator selects and retweets the questions that everyone should focus on, but you can answer any question asked in this scenario as well. You can follow along on Twitter itself, but I prefer to use TweetDeck.
So what you get from a Twitter chat? That all depends on how you participate. There are always some “trolls” although I don’t see them as a bad thing in this instance. You can always sit back and watch the hashtag feed and learn from the ongoing conversations, but you get a far greater return on your time by participating. Whether it’s dipping your feet with a retweet, a favorite or one comment, or you answer every question and continue side conversations, you’re bound to learn and enjoy.
What I like about twitter chats is the ability to have a general conversation about a specific topic with like-minded people. Of course, there will be arguments and very rarely will there be a consensus, but it’s about learning, interacting, and having a good time. Personally, I enjoy #BlogChat on Sunday nights at 9pm EST, #NostalgiaChat on Sunday nights at 10pm EST, #SEOtalk Monday at 11am EST, #LeadfromWithin on Tuesday nights at 8pm EST, #GetRealChat on Tuesday at 9pm EST, #SMmeasure at Noon EST on Thursday and #SciFiChat on Friday at 3pm EST.
But I’m always looking for a good one. I don’t religiously attend them all. Sure, work and life are important and my free time it isn’t all about Twitter and social media. Sometimes it is healthy to unplug for a night, a day, or even a weekend, but I try to participate when I can.
Twitter chats are obviously not that unique. You can find similar things in Google+ Hangouts and on other platforms, but I enjoy the fast-paced, multifaceted Twitter chats as they are. I learn, I make connections and I have fun.
Be honest, is that not the purpose of social media?
Twitter can be used in so many ways, but in my book, chats are among the top ways to use that tool. So if you’ve been a follower of my @AgentPalmer, and you’ve seen tweets A1, A2, A3 and A4, go to the hashtag and see what we’re talking about. Who knows? You may be enticed to join in, you may gain a few followers, learn something, or have a blast sharing a piece of yourself while having a great time.