How To Attend Your First Twitter Chat
Today, Thursday, November 7th at 3pm EST I’ll be chatting about homeschool science with Toni of The Happy Housewife and lots of other homeschool twitter users. Follow #homeschool.
I love twitter parties and this one should be lots of fun! They are fast paced, loaded with great information and a fabulous way to connect with others in the online homeschool community.
“That’s great, but I’ve never been to a twitter chat.”
Really? Let’s fix that!
Attending Your First Twitter Chat
I’ll walk you through how to get ready for your first twitter chat or twitter party, then give you some tips for what to do when you get there.
1. Set up your twitter account. It’s simple and free. Go to Twitter.com and follow the sign up directions. You get to choose your own twitter handle or name, if it’s still available. You can use your full name or a clever pseudonym.
2. Get familiar with Twitter. Twitter has a “getting started” page that breaks down the basics. Read that first. This will tell you how to follow people and how to start tweeting for yourself. Of course, you don’t ever have to send a tweet of your own. You can just follow others. For a more detailed Twitter how-to for those who want to be serious Twitter users, check out Mashable.com’s Twitter Guidebook.
3. The all important hashtag. Hashtags are the # symbol you see in certain tweets. These help organize twitter chatter by topics. Twitter turns the hashtag and connected text into a hyperlink. If you click that link within a tweet, you will see a stream of tweets that have used that hashtag.
For example, if I click on #homeschool in any tweet, I will get a list of all recent tweets that have used that hashtag. Therefore, I can get information about just homeschooling without wading through all the other tweets in my stream or without following everyone who posts about homeschooling. You can follow a hashtag twitter stream by entering the hashtag symbol and text in the search bar at the top of the Twitter page.
All twitter chats have their own hashtags. That is how you follow along. If you want to contribute your own tweet to the chat or party, remember to add the appropriate hashtag so it will show up in the chat feed.
4. TweetChat. To make twitter chats and parties easier, I like to use TweetChat.com. It is a website that you can sign in to for free, connect your twitter account, type in the twitter chat hashtag and follow along in a dedicated stream. Twitter chats can be very fast moving and usually the Twitter site can’t keep up. TweetChat refreshes faster and lets you chat without much delay.
Also, once you are logged into that twitter chat or party through TweetChat, you can send out your own tweets through that page and the appropriate hashtag is automatically added to your tweet! This is a huge time saver on those fast moving chats and it ensures you will have enough characters left for your chat’s hashtag.
5. Show Up! Log in to your chat a few minutes early. People are always there chatting a few minutes before the official kick-off. Feel free to enter the conversation. Let people know it is your first chat or party. Feel free to ask questions. You’ll be surprised how supportive other Twitter users are. Every one of us has had our first twitter chat!
During the chat, you will probably find Twitter users that have great things to say. When you do, remember to follow them, so you can keep up with their tweets after the chat is over.
I hope this helps those Twitter newbies. I really want you all to be able to attend the chat this afternoon. If you are at the chat today and are new, let me know! I want to connect with you and cheer you on.
One word of warning….Twitter chats are so much fun that this first one will probably not be your last!