Twitter has been so good to me! While it isn't the only place I go to sharpen my learning saw, I must say it is one of my favorites. The people I have met online through chats and exchanges on Twitter have been monumental to my personal and professional growth and development over the past few years.
One of the easiest ways to become involved on Twitter and to connect with others is through a Twitter chat. When inviting others to participate in various chats, I often hear things like "I can't keep up with the conversation!" or "How do you know who's saying what?" Don't worry! This post is here to help YOU! Hopefully, after reading this, you will be able to successfully complete a Twitter Chat.
What is a hashtag? If you're around my age or older, you recognize the "pound sign", as we once called it way back in the 90s. However, now this symbol is known as a hashtag. This symbol, combined with words directly behind it without any spaces connects your tweets with others who are sharing their thoughts, questions, and suggestions around the topic it identifies. When participating in a chat, it is important to remember the hashtag with each one of your responses to be included in the discussion stream. The last chat I participated in two days ago was #PersonalizedPD. Here is an example of a tweet I sent to contribute to the global conversation.
A few of the hashtags I frequently follow on Twitter are listed below:
During a twitter chat, there will be at least one person, or moderator, posting questions during the conversation. Questions are identified because they have Q and an identifying number to let you know where you are in the chat followed by the hashtag.
Below is an example questin fof a chat I participated in earlier this week.
When you respond to questions during a chat, you will respond with A and the number that corresponds with the question you are answering. For example, for the question listed above, the answer would start with A7 followed by a response. Somewhere in the response, the hashtag for the chat, #PersonalizedPD, should also be included to link your statement or question to the discussion.
Keeping Up with the Discussion
Now that you have a crash course in how to participate in a chat, the next question is how to keep up with the fast moving discussion. Do not feel pressured to answer each and every single question posted. If it's your first time chatting, you may want to simply lurk, or look on, and post when you can if you want to do so. Chats are extremely laid back, and you can put as much or as little in the conversation as you would like to. No pressure.
However, there are a few tools to help you manage the fast pace nature of chats. One way is to simply search for the hashtag on twitter and follow along. The video below is a quick help for you to navigate a chat while on Twitter.
Another tool you can use to help you is TweetDeck. They advertise themselves as "your personal browser for staying in touch with what's happening now". This site allows you to control exactly what you see from your Twitter stream. You can open several columns at once in order to follow the conversation and receive all of your notification son one screen. The quick video below will help you get started with TweetDeck.
Here is a list of various Twitter chats from around the globe. Good luck on your first chat. If you are interested in a specific chat, feel free to leave a comment, and I will work to connect you. I would also love to hear how it went.