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How to Join or Host a Live Twitter Chat

Apr 6, 2016 9:00:00 AM

How to Join or Host a Live Twitter Chat

Here’s a complete hypothetical, but maybe you’ve been there.

You arrive to work, you set your bag down, say hi to the team, grab that cup of coffee, and retreat to your desk. You power up the computer, take one big swig of coffee, queue up the to-do list, sit back, and you think to yourself, “I have no idea what I’m doing,” or worse, you feel all alone.

Chances are few people understood the huge “YES!” we all felt when Facebook gave pages native scheduling and the bigger fist-pumping dance party we had when Facebook changed it from month/day/time dropdowns to a calendar selector.

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Twitter chats can help you find those who are celebrating with you!

On top of that - with deadlines, “part-time” (read: full-time) hours, too many “announcement slide” priorities, and a new social media network popping up every other week - how can a church communicator keep from losing it?

For me, it’s been Facebook groups and Twitter chats.

What are Twitter Chats?

Twitter chats are scheduled meetings, typically an hour long, that connect people using a shared hashtag, like #bufferchat. Organizers set the time and the topics (typically between 5 and 8 topics/questions) meant to stimulate conversation. Chats are led by a moderator who is responsible for posting the official chat topics/questions throughout the hour.

How Twitter Chats Will Help You as a Church Communicator

  1. You’ll meet others who wrestle with the same issues you do
  2. You’ll learn new strategies and tactics for communication
  3. You’ll discover what has worked for others as well as what to avoid
  4. You’ll be affirmed, knowing that you’re on the right path
  5. You’ll join communities that care about each other

How do I join a chat?

You can “join” a chat by simply searching for that hashtag on Twitter and clicking the LIVE tab. You’ll start seeing the questions being asked and the people who are responding. To move from “lurker” to “active participant” all you have to do is submit a tweet with the hashtag - answer a question, respond to another tweet, etc.

If you’re just starting out in Twitter chats, I’m pretty sure you’re going to feel like this:

You get handed the #hashtag to a great chat and then BOOM, you run into a stampede of tweets. But don’t be discouraged. There are several great tools out there that can help you make sense of the deluge of tweets.

The Long and Short (My Favorites) List of Chats

Want to see a long list of Twitter chats out there? Head to Twubs and check out the list of chats with the keyword “church.”

Take some time, thumb through the offerings there. My favorites are #chsocm and #cmschat as they directly target church communication professionals.

Tools to Make the Most of Twitter Chats

Twubs.com

Twubs is a great tool to find new chats, but also to help you participate in chats. When you log into Twubs using your Twitter profile, you’ll be able to tweet through the web-based interface. Search for the hashtag you want and join in!

If the chat starts getting too fast for you, hit the PAUSE button. New tweets will be queued up, and you’ll be able to search through what’s already there and provide a thoughtful response. Hit PLAY and the chat will start flowing again.

TweetChat

Similar to Twubs in that you type in the chat’s hashtag and dive in. It has a slightly different interface, which is why I bring it up. It is apples to apples on features, but some folks may prefer a different interface.

Hootsuite

This is the next level up on the Twitter chat participation. Hootsuite is free for individuals to use. You can connect your Twitter account and then create a dashboard for Twitter. On the dashboard, you’ll be able to add streams of content. Here is a potential setup:

  • Stream 1 - Home Feed
    Get everything delivered as if you’re logged into Twitter’s main feed.
  • Stream 2 - Hashtag Search
    See all the tweets in the chat in one simple stream
  • Stream 3 - Mentions
    If there are tweets back to you, you’ll be see those messages right away and provide a timely response.
  • Stream 4 - Chat Leader Twitter List
    Create a private list on Twitter that only includes the moderators of the chat. This will enable you to “cut out the clutter” and ensure that you’ll see the new discussion points as they are posted.
Have you used Hootsuite for Twitter Chats? What’s your setup look like? Let me know in the comments below!

Your Turn

Do you have a favorite Twitter chat? What chat would you like to see started?

Would you like help joining a chat? If so, connect with me on Twitter @sethhinz and send me a message. I’m more than willing to help you get connected!


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Seth Hinz

Written by Seth Hinz

Seth Hinz serves as Assistant to the President—Web/Media for the Michigan District of the LCMS. A graduate of Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Seth is passionate about connecting church-communication folks and equipping ministries to communicate effectively in the ever-changing digital age. Seth is married, has two sons, one daughter, and enjoys popcorn, Wes Anderson movies, and way too many things on Netflix.

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