Twitter for Rank Beginners IV: Live Chats

Welcome, almost-graduated Tweeps! This is our last class in mastering Twitter. If you missed the first three, here are the links:

Today, we’re going to talk about super-charging your Twitter following–in a totally non-spammy, organic, friendly, and fun way.

Notifications

First, I need to tell you about the Notifications tab at the top of the page. You should be checking this tab every day. If anybody sends you a tweet, mentions you in a tweet, replies to one of your tweets, retweets one of your tweets, or favorites one of your tweets, this is where you’ll find out about it. You’ll see a list of interactions, and anything highlighted in blue is a new notification since the last time you visited this tab. Don’t forget to interact with people who have interacted with you!

Be particularly vigilant about anything that says #FF and shows up on Friday. #FF stands for “follow Friday” and is a Twitter tradition. Some people will recommend their favorite tweeps to their peeps (followers). If your handle shows up in an #FF post, you’ve been paid a big compliment. You should reply and say thanks!

Live Chats

Okay. Now we talk about live chats. This was an exciting break-through for me in growing my own followings and finding lots of interesting people to follow myself.

The first thing you need to know about live chats: They are hectic. Tweets can pour in a dozen at a time. Resign yourself to the fact that you probably won’t be able to read all of them.

What Is a Live Chat? 

Some clever tweep devised the idea of creating a particular hashtag that’s only used on a particular day of the week at a particular time of day. Everybody marks their calendars and gets together to tweet–and every tweet contains that hashtag, so that everybody can see the conversation.

It’s like a virtual convention!

How to Find Live Chats 

It can be painfully difficult to find live chats. Google searches only gave me chats that had been dead for a number of years. (Go figure.) My pleas to my following for chat recommendations returned nothing. (Maybe my tweets went unseen.)

In the end (though I find this frustrating), the most sure way of finding live chats is to follow a lot of people who share your interest. Then watch. One day, you’ll go to your home tab and find half the people you follow all tweeting at once and using some hashtag you’ve never heard of. Congrats! That’s a live chat. Jump in! Or mark your calendar for next week.

Now here’s where I have had success in finding further live chats: While participating in one chat, ask all these people who are online at the same time talking about your favorite subject if they know of other live chats. That should get you a few more!

And don’t worry, I’m going to share a few chats with you at the end of this lesson.

How to Participate in a Live Chat 

At the designated day and time, go to the search box at the top of your Twitter page. Type in the hashtag for the live chat. Make sure you click “Everything” (on the left sidebar) and “All” (at the top of your results page). Tweets should start pouring in, all containing the hashtag somewhere in the tweet.

A live chat can be hosted by an individual, but can also be hosted by a club, business, or organization. In the latter case, they will frequently have a guest host. The role of the host, hosting organization and/or guest host is to pose questions for the group and keep the conversation going. Be vigilant for tweets that say “Q1,” “Q2,” “Q3,” etc. That will be the moderator throwing out the next topic. To keep everything tidy, you should start your return tweet with “A1,” “A2,” “A3.”

And whatever you do, remember to include the hashtag, or no one else in the chat will see you!

You have four jobs during a live chat.

  1. Read other people’s tweets.
  2. Throw out your own tweets.
  3. Reply to other people’s tweets.
  4. Interact with anyone who interacts with you.

And don’t forget to use the hashtag. Did I say that already? It’s kind of important if you want to be seen by everybody else!

I highly recommend you open your Notifications tab in a separate tab or window so you can toggle between the chat and your own notifications without getting overly lost. Keeping on top of a live chat can be hectic. But fun! Especially when you see people following you after your first ten minutes of chatting. Very gratifying.

The Aftermath of a Live Chat

Oh–you have a fifth job, too. Personally, I save it until the chat is done. There’s just too much to keep track of. Once the tweeting is over, I close the tab with the chat and focus on my Notifications. I look through everyone who ever interacted with me during the chat–reply, retweet, favorite, or follow–click through to their profile, and see if they’re someone I ought to follow. This is the best way I’ve found of filling my home feed with lots of people who share my interests and interact instead of just advertise.

Over the next day or two, you may notice your following continue to grow. People who remembered exchanging a word or two with you during the live chat will decide to follow you. People you decided to follow will decide to follow you.

Isn’t Twitter great? It takes such little effort to grow a following here. That’s why I love it.

Recommended Live Chats

Disclaimer: I haven’t attended all of these chats in person. But I plan to! All times are in Central Time, because that’s where I live. (Smiles.)

Live Chats for Authors: 

#WriteChat                 Sundays         2-5 pm Central

#StoryDam                 Thursdays     7 pm Central

#10minnovelists      Thursdays     8 pm Central

#K8Chat                       Thursdays     8 pm Central

Live Chats for Readers:

#TitleTalk                            Last Sunday of the month    5 pm Central

#VirtualBookClub*         Mondays                                     8 pm Central

                 * #VirtualBookClub was considering changing its hashtag to #vbcbooks.

Controlling Social Media (Instead of Letting It Control You)

Yes, social media is a time suck. And it’s time sensitive. If you want a significant number of people to see your posts, you have to post when a significant number of people are on your social media venue(s) of choice.

I strongly advise being a human and actually spending some time on your social media accounts every day. (I have my routine knocked down to 30 minutes a day across Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.)

But if you have promo to do, get a social media planner. This is a service such as Buffer or HootSuite that allows you to schedule social media messages ahead of time. That way, you can sit down once a week or even once a month, plan your notifications, and have them all go out on autopilot. MAJOR time saver.

If you run your website or blog on WordPress, I personally recommend CoSchedule (and nobody’s paying me to say that). I’ve tried a few different planners, but nothing I’ve seen beats the versatility and all-inclusiveness of CoSchedule. For starters, it can handle all the major social media sites, including Pinterest–and believe me, finding a good Pinterest planner is nigh impossible.

And I have yet to see any other planner beat the easy-to-visualize drag-and-drop calendar that CoSchedule created. Scheduling blog post promo and other social media messages is a breeze. You can connect an unlimited number of blogs and social media accounts and even share access with multiple users.

Homework

Sometimes I feel as if my homework assignments are painfully obvious …

  • Attend a live chat on Twitter. If you feel overwhelmed, simply sit in and read the first time. But definitely jump in and tweet next time! Hope to see you there!

That concludes July’s series on Twitter for Rank Beginners. Hope you picked up something useful! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below! And Carrie and I definitely look forward to seeing you in Twitterland.

Tweet It!

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