How to Rock on a Twitter Chat

How to be the rock star of a Twitter chat! Is being a featured guest on a Twitter chat akin to being a public speaker or presenter? Oh, yes, but with a few differences: 1) the potential audience size is roughly 75 million and, 2) you have fewer than 140 characters to get your point across and keep the audience engaged.

So, what do you, as the person taking center stage, have to do to become the rock star of Twitter chats? Easy: Be prepared. Be on time. Be friendly. Be quick.

BE PREPARED

Prepare 10 – 12 key talking points as you would for any presentation and write them out in an email to yourself or in a document to make it easy to copy and paste from.

Keep the word count of these messages to 120 characters (or fewer) so as to allow room for the 11-character hashtag string (ex: #CampusChat) and retweets (RT). This post on the anatomy of a Twitter tweet may be helpful.

Decide which Twitter support tools you are going to use and install or configure these hours before the chat begins (not ten minutes before).

BE ON TIME

About 15 minutes prior to the start of the chat, set up your tools, browser windows, the document with your prepared statements, and whatever else you are going to use to track and respond to the chat conversation. (I recommend TweetChat or something similar since it automatically applies the chat hashtag to each statement you post.)

Be prepared to greet the chat participants, introduce yourself, and/or respond to the introduction made by the host.

BE FRIENDLY

Respond to any questions posted with the hashtag in the tweet. Some participants will post a question to you, the speaker, directly. For example, tweets on the next #CampusChat could read:

@RealYaverbaum What was the best advice from the GCs you interviewed? #CampusChat.

while others may state their questions as if to the group expecting you to respond:

What's the best GC advice you ever got? #CampusChat

It's fine to post a welcome to everyone and to individuals, esp. if you know them.  People appreciate acknowledgment.

Say thank you when appropriate for RTs, good points made by others, etc.

At the closing, thank everyone for attending and tell them how to contact you. For example:

@koofers:  Thanks to everyone for coming out tonight! Thank you @CollegeVisit for organizing this. #CampusChat

@koofers: Stay tuned – many exciting, new things coming this Fall to @Koofers! #CampusChat

@koofers: If you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to E-mail me at michael AT koofers.com #CampusChat

BE QUICK

Respond quickly to direct questions. The more quickly you respond, the more time you have to post more of your content/message and engage with participants. Participants are the ones who can make your messages go viral. The more often you can communicate clearly and quickly, the greater the chance of having your message spread across the Twitter-universe and keeping your audience engaged.

Type fast and stay focused so you can respond quickly. It's impossible to know how many people will attend your chat or how fast the tweets will fly across your screen. One of Matt Collier's #blogchats rocked with over 2,500 tweets and 300 participants.

You can, of course, "wing it." Many subject-matter experts are completely comfortable doing this, and if you do, please take a few minutes to make sure you technology tools are loaded and working. Even rock stars need a sound check.

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From Handshake 2.0:

Z. Kelly Queijo wrote about the history of #Blogchat in An Interview with Mack Collier, Founder of Blogchat, covered the biggest blogchat ever in her interview with Mack Collier, and 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 where she hosts #CampusChat on Wednesdays at 9 PM Eastern.
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