Ah the Tweetchat. The seemingly always inconveniently timed Twitter discussions have become second nature to me at this point. At first what seemed like a daunting task has now boiled down to what feels like regular conversation if I am in a chat suitable to my own interests. Over the course of my senior year I have participated in quite a few, and have learned quickly that not every chat is for me. The trick is to find your chats and stick to them, soon after you will reap the rewards. Here are 5 things I have learned/gained through my participation in Tweetchats.
- How to better interact with Online Communities.
First and foremost, the number one thing I have learned through my participation in Tweetchats is how to interact with preexisting online communities. Before diving into these chats I was merely interacting on a friend to friend basis, rarely utilizing my social networks to reach out, ask questions, and truly obtain useful content from the Twitterverse. The majority of my interactions would simply be relaying random thoughts that popped into my head. However participation in Tweetchats has changed the way I interact through all of my social platforms, not just Twitter. Although I still like to maintain my personal quirky touch, I find myself interacting very differently online. This has led to the conversion of these platforms into professional tools rather than personal outlets, through which I share content relevant to the fields I hope to soon pursue a career in. Tweetchats have taught me when I should be personal vs. professional as well as how I should approach interactions with peers and professionals via online platforms. I have become more wary of the content I share and the people I follow and choose to interact with. I have also learned that each social platform or specific situation can call for a new type of interaction and may require a different level of professionalism, a different voice, or a different type of content in general such as sharing a video, article, picture, gif, or whatever else may be deemed appropriate to attend to the situation at hand.
- Stay up to date, while approaching new topics from various points of view.My first ever Tweetchat happened to be the same place I received the inspiration for my first blog post concerning the deal the NFL had come to with Twitter and displaying a live feed during games. If I had not been participating in the chat, I may have never heard of this news, certainly not as soon after as I had. Not only did I learn about this new information, I was able to discuss the new deal as well as its pros and cons utilizing insights from a countless number of chat participants. By the time the next question was posed I could have written a 5 page novel on the benefits and disadvantages of this new deal just based on the discussions I had, questions I asked, and number of insights I was able to discern from others. Needless to say this chat is not the only one to inspire a blog post, and I often find that shortly after the chat is when I write my most successful posts. Many of the chats I have participated in have turned me on to an array of current events, articles, and recent discussions that I would not have heard elsewhere. In addition to this, the benefit of having so many different points of view in one place is priceless. I am able to see and discuss how recent events are portrayed in the minds of others allows me to share content in a way that is universal and inclusive for all of my followers/circles/groups. Being able to pick and choose which chats I participate in allows me to stay current on topics of my choice whether that is sports, sport marketing, blogging, social media news, business, or job searching/career prep. The opportunities to stay up to date in the field of your choice and enter a valuable real time discussion about them are seemingly endless as you can find a chat for just about anything.
- How to build my personal professional network.
It is easy for one to simply search Twitter and follow thousands of accounts that seem relevant. However, a Tweetchat offers you a truly rare opportunity to interact with these individuals and businesses before you follow them and they reciprocate. Suddenly after interacting with them, whether it is a simple response or them answering a question you posed you become a much more valuable connection in their eyes. These people and brands are often used to attracting the random follower, and this typically means little as you are just another account on their feed. It is your interaction via the chat that gets your foot in the door and makes you seem like a much more valuable account to follow. What I have noticed in my chats is that it is easy to simply be a wallflower. Sit back, watch the Tweets roll in, and pick and choose who you wish to follow. However it is in the chats that I am most heavily involved asking/answering questions, replying to posts, reaching out to specific users and moderators, sharing quality content, and saying hello and goodbye that I have found my most valuable network additions. Those same people that interacted with me in the chat will now interact more frequently with other content I share outside of the chat simply because we have made that personal connection before mutually following. This applies to both parties, as I often find myself engaging more often with users I have connected with via chat because typically the content is relevant to my interests and I have built a sort of trust with them already. I like to apply the 80/20 rule to Twitter and say that 80 percent of your content is consistently engaged by 20% of your following. Tweetchats have been extremely valuable in helping me build my professional network both on and off of Twitter, and has led to some significant growth within LinkedIn.
- How to stand out.
Being that I’m 6’2 with blazing red hair and one of the rarest names in the book, standing out is something that has always come naturally to me…Until I attempted #blogchat. It was the first time I had truly felt rejected by an online community, but I soon learned not to take it personally. #Blogchat is an established community with an incredible amount of participants which makes it all the more difficult for a new entry like me to stand out. However, I have realized that in many of the less crowded chats I can often interact with others in a way that makes me a major contributor to the chat. I have been able to do this by identifying chats in which I have significant knowledge concerning the subject matter, or something I am extremely passionate about such as sport marketing/business. I can say that one of my most successful chats has been #internpro, where I feel that my content is shared significantly more than others and often by the moderators. I do a number of things to stand out including quick responses to questions, highlighting specific participants I want to reach, addressing the moderators in every post, posing strong questions that call for quick responses, utilizing humor in my posts, and trying to be as creative as possible when addressing the questions posed. Admittedly this is not always foolproof and I sometimes find myself at a loss for engagement. It is in these moments that I do whatever it takes to get my name into the discussion, responding to as many questions as I possibly can, following relevant users and addressing them immediately after, sharing content I have written on my blog, and a number of other appropriate techniques to call attention to myself without straying from providing quality content. One of the dangers of trying to stand out is reducing the quality of your posts. Instead I search for ways to drive engagement without reducing the quality of my posts, rather than searching for any and all engagement I want the right people seeing these posts (although I’m not opposed to some extra blog hits). Being in Tweetchats has helped me refine my style and voice to better stand out in communities that are constantly flooded with content. This has been a great tool for me as I have gained some important connections and dramatically improved the number of followers. In the last two months my following has increased by nearly 75, and growing with another 7 from #internpro tonight. In the virtual world being a 6’2 ginger named Lochlan can only help so much.
- Identify key traits of moderators to better understand community management.
As the end of the semester approaches, the ever daunting task of hosting our own Tweetchat continues to loom over our heads. Needless to say nerves have set in. One of the places I have turned in this time of need is to the current moderators of chats I participate in. I have found that simply by identifying the way these chats are run, and how the moderators interact, I can better identify how I want my chat run. I have found that the moderators of #internpro are some of my favorite, as every time I enter the chat I feel that they are incredibly receptive to their participants. Through my tweetchatting I have picked up on some useful techniques to moderating a Tweetchat of my own. First and foremost you must promote your chat, both within other chats and through your own profile. Once you have established a date and topic it is crucial that you let your followers know, as well as doing everything in your power to reach those outside your following. Make sure you utilize a Twitter Client like Hootsuite or Tweetchat. Even though my initial Tweetchat may be small in size, it is important you make it easy for yourself to quickly engage with participants and stay up the second on responses coming through. This simply cannot be accomplished on the standard Twitter feed. It is important that everyone and anyone feel welcome in your chat and as moderator you do your best to welcome and thank them for coming by specifically tagging them in a welcome post. At this point you might want to pose an interesting question to get discussion flowing in a relevant way, such as asking who their favorite team is if your topic relates to sports. Make sure you have questions (and responses) ready to go. In my experience anywhere from 4-8 questions should suffice as long as they are interesting and engaging! Do your best to respond to everyone you can, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Make sure to focus on the response at hand rather than trying to answer 5 at once. Pay extra attention to new visitors, retweet the best content, and allow participants ample time to respond to questions. It is crucial you utilize some form of metrics and measurement tool, to organize and compile all of the participant’s tweets and send them out after they are archived. Finally reach out to specific people you want involved and ask them to join your chat, and make sure you’re not a control freak. As long as you stick to these guidelines I believe anyone is capable of running a successful chat.
As my own Tweetchat looms ever closer to its debut this Wednesday, April 2nd I can only brace myself for what is to come. I have chosen to discuss current marketing trends in the extreme sports industry. Being my first Tweetchat I have turned to Twitter for advice, and do my best to discern the best promotion and moderation techniques from the Tweetchat gurus that currently dominate the Twitterverse, possibly probing them for questions, and remembering to always utilize these platforms as learning tools.
If you’re interested in extreme sports and the marketing that goes on behind the scenes I urge you to participate in my first Tweetchat Wednesday, April 2nd, at 9pm under the hashtag #xtremechat! Your participation will go a long way and will certainly not go unnoticed. I am ecstatic to get this underway! See you all on Wednesday!