Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hosting a Twitter Chat

A few weeks ago, a colleague asked me to co-host a Twitter chat with him. Never having done so before, I began investigating what it entails to host a productive Twitter chat. It is unbelievable the amount of information you can find about hosting a chat as well as participating in a chat.

What is a Twitter chat?

A Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation that uses a unique hashtag (#). The hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and participate in it. Twitter chats usually occur at a pre-determined time in order to discuss specific topics and to connect people with similar interests.

Usually the host or moderator of the chat will post questions (with Q1, Q2, etc.) in order to prompt responses from participants (who use A1, A2, etc.).  Most Twitter chats last an hour.

Why participate in a Twitter chat?

I recently participated in a Twitter chat held by Teachers Leading (#teachersleading). My reasons for participating in the chat were simple. I wanted a chance to network with others who shared my same interests and I simply wanted to learn from them.

What are some tips for hosting your own Twitter chat?

Tip #1: Participate in chats first and understand how they work
Since I have been a participant in Twitter chats before, I really feel like I understand how they work. It is very important that you know how a Twitter chat works in order to successfully host your own. If you are looking for some chats to participate in, you can find some listed at the links below:

Tip #2: Make a plan
When hosting a Twitter chat, some items need to be pre-planned. These items include:
  • Choose a hashtag - When choosing a hashtag, it needs to be short and unique. It is also helpful if it is easy to remember and easy to type.

  • Schedule a time and day - Choose a time and day that works best for you. You might also want to ensure that no other major Twitter chats about the same topic are occurring on the day and time you pick. Also, when selecting a time, think about your audience.

  • Choose a topic and create questions - Once you decide upon a topic, come up with 5-8 questions that will be used to guide the chat. It wouldn't hurt to add a few additional questions just in case you need to increase interaction among the participants.

  • Consider inviting special guests - Bringing in guests on a particular topic is a great way to get first-hand knowledge and expertise for your chat participants. Make sure you clearly communicate the chat schedule with them and send them the questions in advance so that they may see and offer input on them.

Tip #3: Promote your chat
Promote your chat using social media. In addition, creating an announcement webpage, like a Google Site, to use as a reference point is always a good idea. This page can serve as a landing page that explains what the chat will be about and gives the details about the chat. In addition, it can contains things like how to participate in a chat, how chats work, etc. Some of your participants might find this very useful.

Tip #4: Conduct your chat
When conducting your chat, think about including these items:
  • Include introductions - Welcome your participants to the chat and allow them to introduce themselves.
  • Announce the topic - Announce what the topic is for the chat and tweet your own ideas about the topic.
  • Ask questions - As you ask questions, label them as Q1, Q2, etc. Allow your participants at least 5 minutes to share their ideas.
  • Encourage participation - Share some related resources, links, and ask your participants to do the same.
  • Announce the end of the chat - Warn the participants that the chat will be ending.
  • Conclude the chat - Thank your participants for participating in the chat and tweet any final remarks or thoughts. Also, announce the next chat day, time and topic.
Some great tools to conduct your chat on are Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. These Twitter clients make it easier to follow the chat.

Tip #5: Analyze and archive your chat
After your chat is over, reflect upon how the experience went. Perhaps, write a blog entry about it. Also you might want to create a transcript of your tweets. Storify is a great tool to use for this.

Digital Coaching Twitter Chat
So, if you aren't busy tomorrow evening, join me as I co-host my first twitter chat:

Date: Thursday, May 28, 2015
Time: 8pm - 9pm
Hashtag: #edtechcoach
Topic: Digital Coaching Stories