With another #LatinxChat coming up on January 31st, 2020 I wanted to create a quick guide to how to participate in Twitter Chats! Below are some points to keep in mind and an easy guide to help you if you're new at this!
1. What is a twitter chat?
Twitter chats are organized events that usually take place on a specific date & time with a specific topic or audience/community in mind. For example, there are chats for 2020 debuts, for writers in general and for the queer community to name just a few. There is usually a specific hashtag that is associated with the event and a moderator posting the questions and boosting the answers of participants.
2. Find the moderator/organizer of the event.
Chat moderators will be the ones posting the questions. Sometimes they make graphics and sometimes they just type them out (both is ideal for accessibility.) Keeping a tab open with just the moderator's feed is an easy way to keep up with the chat and also interact with other participants (as the moderator will sometimes RT and boost others answers.) It's always nice to thank and support a chat moderator at the end of an event, since it can be a lot of work!
3. Quote tweet or tweet your answers.
The best way to respond to twitter chat questions is by quote tweeting the moderator question or posting a new tweet on your own timeline. You can also save and post the question graphic if it exists, alongside your answer or a graphic/gif of your own. You shouldn't reply to the moderator with your answer (unless they specifically ask for this) as it can bury your response and make things harder for the moderator to manage.
4. Always use the event hashtag in your answers
The most important thing to keep in mind during a chat is that you must use the specific hashtag associated with the event in order for it to show up in the feed for the chat. For example, for #LatinxChat, any answers you might share should contain the hashtag #LatinxChat. People will follow the hashtag during a chat to interact with the participants, boost answers and sometimes to browse through a chat after the actual event is done.
5. Make sure this event is for you
Another important reason to find the moderator of a Twitter chat is because they will likely explain what the event is about and who it's for. There are times when random people will participate in a chat for say, a specific agency, and answer questions when they're not experts on a specific topic. It's Twitter, stuff like this is bound to happen, but make sure you're not one of those randos and read the description and chat event guidelines carefully. If they're confusing, just ask the moderator!
6. Label your answers (and moderators label your questions!)
The feed can move fast during a twitter chat and a good way to make sure things aren't confusing is by labeling your answers. Moderators (should) be labeling their questions with Question 1, 2, 3 or Q 1, 2, 3, etc. In turn, chat participants should use the corresponding labels: Answer 1, 2, 3 or A 1, 2, 3 when answering the moderator questions. This makes it clear what you are responding to, especially if you aren't quote tweeting the moderator or using their graphic. It's a quick and easy way for people browsing the feed or interacting with the chat to know what question you're currently on.
7. Keep multiple tabs open
One of the best ways to keep on top of twitter chats is multiple tabs. I usually keep 4 open. One for my own notifications, one for my own profile (in case I'm answering w/o quote tweeting the moderator), one for the moderators profile and one for the hashtag feed itself. The app, Tweetdeck has an option to view multiple feeds/profiles at once which is another great option.
8. Interact with other participants!
One of the best parts of Twitter chats is interacting with the community. Read other answers, boost the ones you like, respond and interact and follow people you think might be a great addition to your feed. I've made a lot of contacts through Twitter chats and it can be a great way to dip your toe into a new community or become a bigger part of one you're already in. In short, try not to only answer the moderator questions.
9. Be careful about self promo
Most chats have a place to plug yourself and your work toward the end of the event. Although you'll obviously be talking about yourself and your projects/work, you should try to make sure you're waiting for the right moment to share any buy links or links to where people can follow you elsewhere online.
10. Have a good time!
It can feel stressful if you're not used to the pace of Twitter chats but remember it's not a serious situation, if you feel overwhelmed take a break or log off. The point is to foster discussions, have fun and share your thoughts with others. The moment it becomes stressful or horrible for you, you don't have to keep going! Have a good time with it if you can though and take advantage of the benefits.
That's it! If you have any other questions about Twitter chats you can hit me up on twitter @Claribel_Ortega and if you're a Latinx/e author or writer don't forget this Friday is our next #LatinxChat!!! Hope to see you all there <3