The 8 reasons I love #Twitterchats—and why you should, too

Three benefits, four tips, and one indispensible chart about Twitter chats.

Hello my name is Sam, and I’m addicted to Twitter chats.

For those of you non-addicts, writer Angie Atkinson likens Twitter chats to online chat rooms, but within Twitter. Each chat—denoted by a hashtag (#)—focuses on a specific topic or field of interest.

Chats typically run for about an hour and focus on questions related to the hashtag’s field. For example, #cmgrchat is for community managers, but they have various weekly topics and questions.

So, what’s it to you? Here are three benefits of Twitter chats:

• Connections. Taking part by tweeting, retweeting, and replying to tweets can create valuable connections with people in your field. People in chats show a lot of love, so expect retweets.

• Lots of valuable information in a short amount of time. If the chat is run well and the moderators ask compelling questions, you can expect to gain a good deal of worthwhile, detailed information in a short span of time.

• Brand building. When you weigh in during a Twitter chat, you announce your name and that of your company. If you cite case studies or experiences relevant to your brand—and applicable to the conversation—you’re doing even more to help your brand gain visibility.

Think you want to give Twitter chats a try? Here are four tips for taking part:

• Get to know the chat. Familiarize yourself with the topic at hand, know the moderators, check out the rules of the chat—most are open, but it’s worth checking—and find out whether a speaker will attend.

• Make it easy to follow the chat. Using chat tools like TweetChat, HootSuite, or TweetDeck can help streamline your chat and save you from constantly entering the hashtag every time you tweet. These sites also enable you to separate the moderators’ info into columns to respond to them directly. I prefer TweetChat.

• Don’t flood the chat with links. Chats are about talking (well, tweeting really), not sending links. If you spend chat sessions sending links, you’ll likely be tagged a spammer. If you feel the urge to use a link, make sure it’s relevant.

• Say thanks. After the chat, follow up with the moderators and new people with whom you’ve connected. You’ll probably gain followers and find great people to follow.

Finally, as a bonus, here’s the Holy Grail for people interested in Twitter chats: A chart that lists 377 chats (and counting) by topic, time they occur, moderators, links to the chat, and more.

Now get chatting!

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