An Interview with Mack Collier, Founder of Blogchat

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:

Mack Collier, founder of BlogchatZKQ: 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.

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#Blogchat is held Sunday evenings at 9 PM ET (8PM CST). You are invited to follow @mackcollier for announcements about featured topics and guests.

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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.

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Z. Kelly Queijo is the founder of SmartCollegeVisit and a frequent contributor ro Handshake 2.0. You're invited to follow SmartCollegeVisit on Twitter, @collegevisit.

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Comments

  1. Thank you Kelly for interviewing me, and thanks for helping to make #blogchat so amazing! I’d like to invite all of your readers to please join us next Sunday nite at 8pm central!

  2. My pleasure, Mack. I’m looking forward to #blogchat on Sunday. It’s always a fascinating and fun experience, not to mention the opportunity to learn a lot and meet some really cool people.

  3. Thank you, Mack, for starting #blogchat and you, Kelly, for sharing the story with us!

    I attended my first #blogchat ever this last Sunday – the biggest in your history – and I will admit that my heart started pounding! The interaction, the information, the readiness of all to converse online was awesome!

    I added a tweet when I thought I might have a link of help, otherwise, just watched and learned. A fascinating experience.

    Thank you both, again, very much.

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