Photo Credit: ~Ilse via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: ~Ilse via Compfight cc

I’ve had lots of new community managers and non-community managers ask me about Twitter chats recently. I usually participate in at least one per week, and they’ve had an enormous impact on my ability to connect with other community managers, learn from them, delve deeper into topics, generate new ideas for building my own community, and get more Twitter followers (I sincerely don’t care much about that aspect, but I know many people do, so I’ve said it, OK!? It’s out there!).

There are lots of community-related Twitter chats, but there are really two core chats that you should start with if you’re new to this whole thing:

  1. #cmgrchat: Wednesdays at 10AM PST/2PM EST, hosted by Jenne Pedde and Kelly Lux
  2. #cmgrhangout: Fridays at 10AM PST/2PM EST, hosted by Tim McDonald and Jonathan Brewer, along with moderation by Sherrie Rhode and Brandie McCallum

There is also #commbuild (non-profit centered) and a few others. I could list out all of them, but plenty of other blogs do this anyway. There’s also an extensive Google doc of ALL Twitter chats evarrrr, which is great if you want to get involved in new communities and meet people with similar interests.

So there is a fairly clear protocol to how these work, but, being an upstanding community manager who wants to be the best, you surely want to participate in an effective way. So here’s your game plan as a first-time tweet chatter/CM. This is Tweet Chat 101:

  1. The first time you participate, be sure to introduce yourself. Go on, don’t be shy!
  2. Obviously, always use the hashtag at the end of any related tweet. Even if you’re having a side conversation, it’s important to capture all the different conversations that crop up.
  3. Listen up, favorite people’s tweets, and ask questions of individuals by replying to their tweets.
  4. Don’t go overboard with re-tweeting. But do re-tweet a couple key things people say.
  5. After the chat is over (or during, if you’re quick like a cat), follow the people who are saying awesome things. Introduce yourself to them more formally after the chat and start a conversation with them. Thank them for being awesome.

So that’s the beginner’s guide. As you get more involved in the chats, it’ll be your turn to speak up. At that point, I have a couple key pieces of advice for ya. This is Tweet Chat 201: Intermediate Chats for Badasses:

  1. Write quotable things. Think of things you like to re-tweet, specific advice you can give from your own experience, and then make sure that they’re short enough to easily re-tweet (120-ish characters). Here’s an example from my own chats that was re-tweeted a couple times last week: “Your community wants to know who you are, just as you want to know who they are. Be yourself and be open. #cmgrhangout
  2.  Start side conversations with people who say awesome things. This is by far the best way to establish one-on-one relationships. If you find someone’s comment interesting, add your two cents. If someone asks a question, answer it.
  3. Give people a chance to feel like experts. By that, I mean don’t talk too much. Sure, you’ve got lots to say, but Twitter is a two-way conversation not just a soapbox. 

And if you want to get into Advanced Tweet Chats, accept invitations or ask to host a Twitter chat or pick the next week’s topic. Write a blog post based on what you learned and what you took away. That will give you tons of Tweet Cred.

Keep participating and getting involved in the community and you’ll keep getting back what you give. It’s a beautiful, simple, fun thing to do. Hope to see you there!

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