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February 7, 2010

How to Participate in a Tweetchat

You can get to know people on Twitter in your area of interest by participating in a tweetchat on a related subject.

What is a tweetchat?

It’s a stream of tweets on the same topic in real time. Imagine it as a gigantic instant messaging free-for-all on a stated topic.

First let’s talk about participating in one. Then we’ll talk about how starting one can help you market on Twitter.

Let’s take this scenario:

I announce that a tweetchat on #ficbkmkt (hashtag for fiction book marketing) will take place on a specific date and time. (I make sure to state what time zone in the U.S. this is.) I tweet about this ahead of time and get others to also tweet the topic, time and date.

At the specific date and time I use a third-party application to participate in a tweetchat in real time. This way I can follow the tweets of people I’m not following yet and people who are not following me yet can see my tweets on the subject.

While there are other third-party ways to participate in tweetchats, I like tweetchat.com the best. Just know that you can change the speed of how fast you get the new tweets. I’m a fast typist so I choose to get new updates every five seconds (the fastest). For others that may be too hard to follow and you’ll want to leave it at the 10 seconds default or even increase to a longer interval between tweets.

At the date and time I go to tweetchat.com and enter my Twitter username and password. Then in the room prompt I enter #ficbkmkt and I’m part of the conversation.

When I tweet from inside this “room” the hashtag #ficbkmkt will be automatically added to my tweet (which is why I don’t have the full 140 characters in a tweet).

If people not participating in the chat are following any of the people in the chat, these outside people can see in their regular Twitter stream the tweets with the hashtag of the people they’re following. And the outside people can respond from their regular Twitter stream but must manually add #fictbkmkt to their tweets so these tweets will show up in the tweetchat room.

Tweetchats are usually for an hour or more. Some are the same time every week and others are for a special event.

The regularly scheduled tweetchats may have a specified topic for each chat or they may be an open exchange of information. The tweetchat organizer decides the format.

I will admit that the tweets can fly fast and furious. Leaders of well-organized tweetchats often have a series of questions and ask people to put the question number before the reply to make it easier for people to follow the conversation. Thus a tweet reply inside the tweetchat that answers “How do you search on Twitter?” (which has been designated as question 4) may look like this:

Q4: There are numerous applications that allow you to search Twitter by different criteria. [hashtag of tweetchat automatically attached]

Now let’s say you want to host a special event tweetchat or start a regularly scheduled tweetchat:

Why would you do this? To establish yourself as a leader in a specific niche. To be known as someone who truly contributes to the conversation in this area. To help out someone.

For example, when getglue.com was new, I offered to host a special tweetchat with a representative from getglue so that he could explain to book authors how getglue could be used for book marketing. The tweetchat afforded book authors the opportunity to learn from the getglue representative and also share tips with each other.

Now I admit I offered to do a tweetchat for getglue for a self-interested reason: I wanted myself to understand how getglue could be used for book marketing. But I did put effort into promoting the tweetchat ahead of time plus I edited the transcript from the tweetchat and put it on my FictionMarketing.com blog so that others who didn’t participate in the live tweetchat could benefit from the advice.

This I utilized the Twitter marketing strategy of providing valuable information for others while learning information for myself.

One other hosting tip: Because many people on Twitter don’t know what a tweetchat is, when I sponsor a special event tweetchat I create an announcement through twitwall.com. This way I can have a headline about the tweetchat (which becomes the tweet) and then a link to the twitwall announcement with instructions about how to join the tweetchat.

P.S. And if you’ve added good information as a participant or host of a tweetchat, you’ll discover that a lot of people from the tweetchat who weren’t following you before will now be following you.


Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is an Internet business consultant. If you liked this article, you’ll love her FREE report on “How to Become a Twitter Marketing Expert” – download the report now from www.millermosaicllc.com/free-twitter-report

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