Anyone who follows me on Twitter (@zkellyq) has probably seen my Sunday night flock of Tweets containing the phrase “#blogchat.” #Blogchat is an online exchange of questions, ideas, and commentary that takes place every Sunday night at 9 PM ET (8PM CST) on Twitter. This event, known as a Twitter chat, was founded by Mack Collier in March of 2009, and has grown from a few hundred tweets to thousands. (A hashtag – # – is used to designate and organize Twitter updates, or "tweets.")
Just how did #blogchat get started and why is it so successful? Here's the story behind Mack Collier's #blogchat:
ZKQ: Mack, tell us about yourself.
Mack: I am a social media consultant, which means I help companies use social media to better connect with their customers and grow their businesses. I am also from Alabama, which means I tweet with a Southern accent.
ZKQ: What's the story behind #blogchat? How did you come up with this idea?
Mack: #Blogchat kinda happened by accident. In March of last year I was on Twitter one night and tweeted a question about blogging to my followers. I decided to add the #blogchat hashtag to the original tweet, as a way to track the replies I'd get. It turned out that the original discussion lasted for a couple of hours and, about 15 minutes into it, people started asking if this was a weekly chat. I decided to do it every Sunday night at that same time, and now it's grown to well over a thousand tweets and a couple hundred active participants.
ZKQ: What makes #blogchat so popular?
Mack: The popularity, I think, is driven by the fact that I am smart enough to get the hell out of the way of the participants. It has a very informal structure compared to some of the other Twitter chats. We just start out with a general topic and the participants take it from there. My hope is that active participants feel as if #blogchat is 'theirs' and that helps drive the community.
ZKQ: What do people need in order to participate?
Mack: They need a Twitter account, but they can still 'watch' the chat even if they aren't a member of Twitter. Probably the best way to follow #blogchat is either at TweetChat or WTHashtag.com.
ZKQ: The chats I've been on seem wide open, meaning they are like a huge, unstructured party. Is it really like that or, as a moderator, are you lending structure to the group event?
Mack: Bingo, that's it. I want #blogchat to be like a coffeehouse, where everyone in the coffeehouse is discussing the same general topic, but each table will have a slightly different take on that topic – so there's just enough structure to give the chat a SENSE of structure, but it's pretty open, as you said.
ZKQ: Can anyone host a chat?
Mack: I don't see why not! I really wish more people WOULD host chats, around more topics. Anyone with a passion, interest, or hobby can start a chat around that topic.
ZKQ: Has being the host of #blogchat helped you in business?
Mack: When someone contacts me, about half the time they mention #blogchat, so I think it's exposing me to a slightly 'new' audience than my blog alone. But honestly, I never viewed #blogchat as being something that would generate business for me. I really view it as something I enjoy doing, and as a way of 'giving back' to others, especially to new bloggers who are looking for guidance and help. Any business benefits I get are strictly a happy byproduct.
#Blogchat is held Sunday evenings at 9 PM ET (8PM CST). You are invited to follow @mackcollier for announcements about featured topics and guests.
From Handshake 2.0:
Z. Kelly Queijo covered the biggest blogchat ever in her interview with Mack Collier.
Z. Kelly Queijo also wrote Drink Up – The Morning After Blogchat with Amy Africa.