Written By: Guest Blogger Sophia Guevara, MLIS, MPA.


For many Twitter users it is common to use the platform to share knowledge, opinions, ask questions and interact with the community. One of the ways you can interact in real-time with others in the Twitter community is to take part in a Twitter chat. For those who don’t have experience participating in one, here are a few tips to get you started.



Tip I:

Identify a Twitter chat you would like to take part in. If you are a member of a professional association, check to see if they currently hold, or would be interested in holding, a Twitter chat for their members to connect. The Special Libraries Association sometimes holds chats for members that are focused on a particular topic. You can learn more about these from SLA’s #SLATalk.



Tip II:

If possible, check to see if the Twitter chat organizers have released the hashtag to be used, topics to be discussed or questions to be asked during the chat. Sometimes, Twitter chat organizers will give participants a heads up by releasing these beforehand. This helps participants submit thoughtful responses (see this example from SLA’s #SLATalk).
If your chat organizer does the same, think of making use of a tool like Twitter’s TweetDeck to schedule these responses at the appropriate times. This leaves you free to respond to others participating in the chat. Think about adding a column in TweetDeck to watch for the hashtag being used. You can learn more from my presentation on Twitter chats.
Soutron Global's Twitter TweetDeck


Tip III:

Stay on topic. As someone who has co-managed a Twitter chat, it’s surprising how some participants try to sway the chat in another direction. It could be to highlight their organization, their product or service or try to get participants to focus on another topic or question altogether.
Don’t worry though. These types of participants are few and far between. They often only get a handful of responses or are often ignored by other participants. If the chat does look like it’s becoming derailed, Twitter chat managers may may send a message to the participants to get them back on track.



Tip IV:

Be ready for the high volume of tweets. People who are new to Twitter chat may find it surprising how fast the tweets come in. This may lead to frustration by some who believe that they can’t read or type fast enough. Once you do type your response, you may find that the group has already moved onto the next topic or question. If this happens, and you would still like to comment on a particular tweet, hit the reply button and share your opinion so that the participant can read it. If you are typing responses to other participants to state your agreement with their tweet, think about saving time by hitting Twitter’s like or retweet button.
Twitter chats can be fun and informative. Think about making use of these tips to take part in an upcoming chat and get involved with your community.
Itching to read more from Sophia Guevara? Click Here to find Sophia’s guest blogs.