3 Easy Ways to Keep in Step with a Twitter Chat

What's the number one mistake a newbie makes during a Twitter online chat?

Forgetting to add the hashtag to the post.

Think of a Twitter chat as an online flash mob where a group of people convene at a certain time and engage in a form of choreographed mass communication before a group of unsuspecting bystanders. It's exciting, interesting, and captivating. At times, you don't know where to look! You can either choose to stand by and watch or, in the case of a Twitter chat, join the insanity.

The easiest way to join or follow a chat is to use a Twitter tool to track the tweets by the chat's designated hashtag (ex: #blogchat or #campuschat). The most important thing to remember to do is to use the chat's hashtag when you want to join the dance – contribute to the conversation.

Here are 3 ways to keep in step when chatting:

Use TweetChat to stream tweets for the hashtag of your choice. 1.TweetChat 
Use TweetChat to stream tweets by the designated hashtag for a particular chat. For example, to join #blogchat, go to TweetChat.com, sign up with your Twitter account id, enter the name of the hashtag to follow (blogchat) and converse in real time. All of the related tweets will appear in a TweetChat Room on your screen. When you submit a post/tweet, TweetChat will automatically append the chat's hashtag so you don't have to remember to do so.

2. WhatTheHashtag
The steps to join the conversation are pretty much the same as for TweetChat. Connect using your Twitter id and begin tracking or contributing to the conversation. The chat's #hashtag will be included with your Tweet. For hashtags registered through WhatTheHashtag, transcripts and statistics are provided for any date range and hashtag.

3. Desktop & Web/Twitter Conversation Management Tools such as TweetDeck, HootSuite, or Seesmic
Any of these tools for managing and tracking multiple Twitter users can also be used to follow conversations via hashtags. I have used all three and am currently using Hootsuite. I like to define a tab for the hashtag and under that tab, add columns for the hashtag, the organizer or moderator(s) of the chat, and one or more key contributors I want to follow closely during the chat. If I post to the chat from any of these environments, I have to remember to add the hashtag.

Newbie or not, Twitter chats are a great way to connect with people with whom you share an interest. The list of Twitter chats you can join or follow exceeds 100. If you have a passion or interest not yet represented and want to connect with others or start a conversation around a particular subject, follow the suggestion by Mack Collier, founder of #blogchat and start your own chat.


Z. Kelly Queijo, founder of SmartCollegeVisit and frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0, will host #campuschat on Wednesday, May 5, 2010, 9 PM ET.   #Campuschat was started by @collegevisit to discuss topics related to college-bound students and their families.  

Wednesday's #campuschat topic:  Parents of teens who just accepted offers talk about the college decision process.  You're invited to follow SmartCollegeVisit on Twitter, @collegevisit.
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  1. Looking forward to the Twitter chat next week. Now that many of us are at the end of the college safari, it’s time for it to heat up for rising seniors. Families visiting college campuses is the newest arm of the tourism industry (!) We saw the same families in several states. Wish we could have compared notes before the trips…Now others can with Smart College Visit.

  2. I like the idea of setting up a whole Hootsuite tab to follow a chat–I got frustrated when I fell behind the conversation, and I think that would really help me keep up with the key players. Thanks for the great article and introducing me to twitter chat!

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