TwitterChatRules-TitleThis Blog Tip Tuesday post is coming to you from Katie of Katie Looking Forward, one of our awesome Dream Team members!

As social media evolves, Twitter remains an important piece of the puzzle. Twitter chats are what keep Twitter consistently valuable. You don’t need to be “invited” to participate (Pinterest group boards), you don’t need to be a “friend” of the organizer (Facebook), and you don’t need to know the participants’ email address (Google+ hangout).

A Twitter chat is an event during which a group of people tweets on the same topic. Participating in a Twitter chat can help you grow your network, show your followers another side of you, and help you meet new people in the Twitter world. Twitter chats usually include a chat hashtag, such as the #SMinADV shown in the photo below, to help all the participants see what the others are saying.

Typically, each chat will have a set of questions that every participant is asked to answer over the course of the chat. For example, a tweet may read,

Q1. What are your social media goals? #hlsummit

Your response could be,

A1. I want to connect with my blog readers outside of the comments section. #hlsummit

ENCOURAGEThere are a few unofficial “rules” to finding and participating in a Twitter chat that you should know before you jump in:

1. Be active.

If you only use twitter as a place to advertise your blog posts, you are missing out. There is a genuine community within Twitter, but you must be active. Simply advertising is not enough. The same goes for Twitter chats – don’t solely promote your own posts. Talk about your experiences, answer the questions the organizer asks and interact with the other participants. If one of your posts is particularly relevant to the question at hand, then of course you can include it – but make sure that’s not all you’re talking about in the chat!

2. Encourage.

If someone tweets something you agree with, Favorite, Retweet or Reply to their post. Spreading the love is always a good thing.

3. Use the #hashtag.

If you don’t use the chat’s designated hashtag, only the people who already follow you will be able to see your tweets. But when you use the hashtag, anyone following the conversation will see your tweets- and you may get more followers out of it that way!

4. Don’t go #hashtagcrazy.

Twitter chats are not the time to go #hashtagcrazy, as you may confuse your followers. During the Healthy Living Summit Twitter chats (beginning May 1!), we wouldn’t want to open with “Happy to join the #hlsummit Twitter chat #blogger #bloglife #ilovehastags” The topic #hlsummit will be lost in the hashtag forest.

5. It’s okay to disagree.

If you have a different philosophy, share it, but do so respectfully. Remember, you only have 140 characters to get your point across, so use them wisely.

6. Follow-up.

Some Twitter chats are held on a regular basis, so be sure to mark your calendars for the next chat if you liked the first one. You may also want to follow the people you interacted with during the chat on Twitter or another social media channel.

Some Twitter chats are scheduled in advance, and you can put them on your calendar so you are sure not to miss out. Other times, you can reply to a tweet and then find out there is a Twitter chat already happening! Don’t be afraid, just jump in and let the Twitter chatting begin!

Read more from Katie on Katie Looking Forward.

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