If you’ve been using Twitter for a long time, you’ve likely noticed that certain hashtags crop up every few days or weeks, and then die down again. More likely than not, what you’re witnessing here is a hashtag chat – a scheduled chat amongst Twitter users that revolves around a hashtag.
What is a hashtag chat?
A hashtag chat is a way of organizing a conversation so that anyone on Twitter can follow, join, and contribute. It centers around a single hashtag, often including the word “chat”, that usually denotes the broad topic of conversation.
Hashtag chats are pre-organized and occur at the same time every day, week or month. This regular schedule makes it easier for participants to join.
Topics that hashtag chats cover are as diverse as the crowd on Twitter. Some of the regular ones cover things like blogging and social media, spirituality, entrepreneurship, local community news, pets, healthcare, networking and much more.
Most Twitter hashtag chats define a specific topic within their general subject for each chat. For instance, blogging-related chats might specify comment moderation as one weekly topic, and guest posting as the next.
How do I find a hashtag chat?
In order to participate in a hashtag chat, you’ve got to locate it first. This means finding the exact hashtag that users tag their tweets with, so you can both monitor and join in the conversation.
There is a Google Spreadsheet online that lists all of the active Twitter hashtag chats, which is a great place to start browsing for topics and hashtags that interest you.
Alternatively, you can find hashtag chats through Twitter.com’s search, by asking your followers about any chats they might participate in, or by stumbling across one in the trending topics list.
How do I join a hashtag chat?
Most hashtag chats are open to anyone with an interest in the chosen topic. However, there are a few simple courtesies you should keep in mind before joining.
Sometimes, it is advisable to simply watch the first chat, especially if you’ve never participated in one before. This will give you a good idea of the flow of conversation, and it will make your first foray into adding a comment or two of your own much easier.
However, if you want to jump right in, here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your hashtag chat experience:
Always include the hashtag in all of your tweets. This will ensure that your tweets get to the right audience. If you forget the hashtag, your tweet will go to your regular followers, most of whom are likely not participating in the chat. They will not get to the chat participants.This is especially important to remember if you are writing a two-part comment. Both parts must include the hashtag for them to be included in the chat.
Be flexible. If new hashtags are popping up as offshoots of the chat, try to include these in your relevant comments as well. This will ensure that your tweets get to the right tweeps.
Be kind, follow back. Hashtag chats are great for learning about a specific topic, but they have an additional value in the networking experience they offer. Many participants are looking to expand their networks as well as participate in the chat. So it is good etiquette to return a follow from a fellow chatter. Know the rules. Some Twitter chats have rules that participants expect everyone to follow, so do a little Google-ing before you show up for the chat.
And finally, there are several tools out there that help streamline the hashtag chat experience. Try using TweetChat for an easy way to filter out all tweets except those during your chosen chat.
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