How to Participate in a Twitter Chat Using Hootsuite

Perhaps you've heard the term "Twitter chat" buzzing around in your blogger groups, or you've even tried to participate in a few but quickly got overwhelmed. Twitter chats can be a lot of fun to participate in, but difficult to keep up with, as the conversations tend to move quickly.

I'm cohosting my own Twitter chat called #InfluenceHour with my friend Brianne from Brightly & Co., so to make it easier for you to hang out with us, I'm going to show you how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite.

Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.
Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.

First, if you're sitting there wondering what the heck a Twitter chat is, let's start there.

A Twitter chat is a conversation that takes place on Twitter at a set date and time, and typically revolves around one topic. The host posts a series of questions and uses a hashtag specific to that chat, and the attendees reply to the host's questions.

Connections are made, you can learn a lot, and it's just a lot of fun! There are literally thousands of Twitter chats on all kinds of topics, too, so you're sure to find one or two that you enjoy.

HOW TO SET UP HOOTSUITE FOR TWITTER CHATS

Hootsuite is my go-to Twitter chat tool because (A) it's free and (B) you can see multiple Twitter streams on one screen, making it easier to follow the action.

Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.
Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.

First, create your free Hootsuite account. Then, click the profile button and add your Twitter account as one of your social networks.

Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.
Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.

Next, navigate to Streams. This is where the magic happens. Streams can be added for any social media network - not just Twitter. A stream is essentially a way for you to see at a glance everything happening on one account, under a specific hashtag or keyword, or various other criteria.

We'll be setting up streams to participate in the #InfluenceHour Twitter chat.

Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.
Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.

Add your first stream. Select your Twitter profile as the social network, then click the plus sign next to "Mentions" to add this stream.

Each time someone mentions you on Twitter, you'll see it and can like, retweet, or reply right there in Hootsuite.

Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.
Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.

Your next stream should be the hashtag of the Twitter chat you're participating in. To do this, move to the "Keyword" tab and type in #InfluenceHour. Click "Add" then "Add Stream".

This is how you'll follow along with the action during the Twitter chat. When new questions are posted, you'll see them here, as well as all of the responses.

Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.
Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.

Using the same keyword search tab, you can also enter the Twitter handle of your host. Since Brianne and I are rotating hosting duties with each #InfluenceHour chat, you'll need to follow me (@SweetTea_LLC) some weeks, and Brianne (@BrightlyandCo) on alternating weeks.

Be sure you're signed up for our emails (below or HERE) to get notified of dates, times, and who is hosting so you can participate!

Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.
Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.

Once you have added all of your streams, close out the box and your dashboard will look something like the one above. You can drag and drop each stream to reorder them.

You should have your host, the hashtag so you can see the conversation, and mentions of your own Twitter handle.

P.S. To remove any stream from your dashboard, click the three vertical dots at the top right corner of any stream and select "delete stream".

HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN A TWITTER CHAT

Now that your dashboard is ready for the Twitter chat, let's go over how to actually participate, and some Twitter chat etiquette.

#1 - Arrive a few minutes early.

When I say "arrive", I mean get logged into Twitter and open up your Hootsuite dashboard so you're ready to go. You can even send a tweet to the host to let them know you're excited to participate.

TIP: Remember to use the hashtag for the Twitter chat in every single tweet during the chat, including your introduction.

#2 - Introduce yourself.

Typically, the Twitter chat host will greet attendees and ask you to introduce yourself. Or she may ask something like, "Who's joining me for #InfluenceHour in a few minutes?"

Reply to her tweet with your name and your blog or website. Remember, use the hashtag!

TIP: Remember, this is meant to be a conversation, so as other attendees introduce themselves, reply to them as well to say hello!

#3 - Buckle up and start chatting.

When the Twitter chat host begins, she will typically use Q1, Q2, Q3, and so on, to designate each question in the chat. You will respond with A1, A2, A3, and so on, like this...

Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.
Participating in a Twitter chat can be a lot of fun and educational, but also a little overwhelming. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat using Hootsuite with this step-by-step tutorial including screenshots of the Hootsuite platform.

This is an example from Kayla Hollatz's #CreateLounge chat. As you can see, Kayla tweeted "Q6: What's your dreamy goal for your side hustle + how are you making steps today to work toward that? #createlounge"

Notice Kayla started with Q6 so you know this is a question from the host, and she ended with #createlounge, the hashtag for that Twitter chat.

The reply is, "A6: Save the lives of geeks through community....#createlounge". The attendee quoted Kayla's original tweet containing the question, added A6 so you know it's a direct response, and ended with the hashtag.

TIP: Be sure to either reply to, or direct quote, the host's question when responding, and always use the hashtag. You can also simply tweet (without replying or quoting), but be sure to begin your tweet with A and the number of the question asked, and end with the hashtag.

#4 - Chat with other attendees.

The fun part of Twitter chats is all the chatting! Twitter chats typically last about an hour, and contain about 6 questions, which leaves up to 10 minutes per question. While this might seem like a lot of time, it goes by very quickly, but you can use this time to not only respond to the host's question, but to chat with other attendees.

TIP: Follow people you connect with during the Twitter chat, and consider making a Twitter list of people you enjoyed chatting with so you can talk to them in between scheduled chats.

#5 - Be gracious and follow up.

Once the chat is over, thank your host and any other attendees who offered value during the chat. If you started a great conversation during the chat, follow it up afterwards with another tweet or a direct message.

TIP: Conversations after the live chat do not need the hashtag, but you are more than welcome to use it if you want the conversation to be seen by the host. Also, Twitter chats are excellent ways to meet people in your niche. It's amazing what kinds of connections can happen in 140 characters!

ETIQUETTE TIP: This is a biggie so listen up. Do not...I repeat...DO NOT be self-promotional just for the sake of being self-promotional.

For example, if you are an email marketing expert, as I am, and you attend a Twitter chat about email, do NOT simply share links to your own blog posts or offer your services. That's just gross. During Twitter chats, you are welcome to share your insights and knowledge with attendees, but don't be sleazy. Just be helpful. If they really feel you were adding value, they'll reach out to you for more.

JOIN #INFLUENCEHOUR

#InfluenceHour begins on Tuesday, October 11th at 8pm EST! I'll be hosting the first #InfluenceHour Twitter chat, so be sure to follow me on Twitter, and click HERE or use the form below to sign up for notifications. You'll also get advanced notice of the topic and the questions we'll be asking, so you can prepare ahead of time.

#InfluenceHour is a brand new Twitter chat for anyone with an online presence. Use your online platform for good, come together with others in the online space and build an influential brand. You're not in this alone. This is your tribe.
#InfluenceHour is a brand new Twitter chat for anyone with an online presence. Use your online platform for good, come together with others in the online space and build an influential brand. You're not in this alone. This is your tribe.

#InfluenceHour is designed to help you build an influential brand. We all have an online platform, so use it for good. Be a positive influence on your readers, your clients, and your peers. Brianne and I will help you do just that!