Since Twitter’s inception, its users have never hesitated to adapt the popular microblogging platform to their own needs. One of those needs turned out to be a way for a large group of people to converse together 140 characters at a time. Thus the TweetChat was born.
While any chatter on Twitter that makes use of the famous hashtag can be considered a TweetChat, the rules for what constitutes a formal “TweetChat” have evolved and firmed up over Twitter’s short lifespan. Today, most TweetChats:
1. Use a specific hashtag – The whole structure of a TweetChats relies on all participants tagging each of their posts with the TweetChat’s unique hashtag. Examples include #smallbizchat, which occurs on Wednesdays from 8pm to 9pm EST, and #DIYMKT, a chat about do-it-yourself marketing that takes place Mondays from 11:30am to 12:20pm EST.
2. Occur Within a defined time period – As you can see from the examples above, most TweetChats last an hour or so. Of course, if you follow a TweetChat’s hashtag, you’ll often see that people mention it from time to time outside the set chat hours.
3. Have a moderator – It’s hard to get a group of people to start spontaneously chatting and under the same hashtag at a certain time, so most TweetChats feature a moderator (or two) that gets the ball rolling, maintains a semblance of order, introduces that week’s topics and guests, and wraps up the chat
4. Preapproved Questions – As TweetChats grow in popularity, the free-for-all format can become more of a pile on. These days many moderators accept questions beforehand and then present them during the chat
Why Should You Tweet Chat?
Do you want Twitter followers? Do you want your message heard? Then TweetChat. Participating in TweetChat’s are a great way to talk directly (if only in 140 character textbytes) with people you might not have normally interacted with. If you’re looking for new clients, find a TweetChat catering to your ideal customer. If you’re looking for friends, partners and colleagues, find a TweetChat within your industry.
Interestingly, TweetChats often spill over into other forms of social media. Moderators often post transcripts or recaps of TweetChats on their own blogs, and advertise upcoming TweetChats on Facebook, LinkedIn and elsewhere.
TweetChats are also a relatively untapped resource for the PR professional. While traditional media is often saturated with guests, TweetChats can include thousands of participants and they’re often looking for special guests. Try adding TweetChat moderators to your traditional PR contacts. It could have unexpected results.
#PR20Chat – This chat about Public Relations 2.0 issues takes places on Tuesdays at 8pm EST and is moderated by @PRtini and @JGoldsborough
#Journchat – This TweetChat for journalists, bloggers and public relations professionals takes place on Mondays from 8pm to 11pm EST
#SBBuzz – This chat is for “small business owners, techies, social media mavens and folks who love ’em” and takes place on Tuesdays from 8 to 10pm EST
TweetChat – This third party service, not to be confused with the actual act of TweetChatting, allows you to follow hashtags in real time (as do most 3rd party Twitter clients)
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here: http://www.ereleases.com/prchecklist.html