Through the EDI Tech Corner, we’ve shared the 10 Must-Have Diversity Resources on Twitter, and talked about the 4 Things You Should Know About Twitter as a Diversity Professional. Today, we’re ushering in a new level of engagement and stepping up the initiative we’ve started with our #Diversity4US and #DiversityCAN Hashtag Diversity Chats, and introducing a new conversation in the digital Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) space: A #Diversity4US/#DiversityCAN Twitter Chat.
What is a Twitter Chat? A Twitter Chat is a gathering of like-minded people on Twitter, having a public conversation around a unique hashtag (#). Following the hashtag allows users to participate in a discussion that aligns with their interests. Twitter Chats can be simultaneous, usually occurring at pre-determined regular intervals, or asynchronous happening over a period of time with participants chiming in as they choose.
How do Twitter Chats work? The best and most organized Twitter Chats take place on a specific day and time, and are moderated by one or more members of the community who take the lead and keep the conversation moving forward. There is often a guest host or featured person that is the focus of the day’s chat, or it’s dedicated to a particular topic or event. Twitter Chats work to help people find each other and make it easier to filter through the chatter and get to the information you want.
How do you participate in a Twitter Chat? There are multiple ways to participate in a Twitter Chat – on the Twitter website, via Twitter’s mobile app, or via a third-party software application and/or social dashboard service like HootSuite. How you participate ultimately depends on the software program you like and how engaged you want to be in the conversation.
Here’s a Best Practices Guide for Participating in a Twitter Chat:
- Being Social and Polite: As a courtesy to those who follow you, warn your followers that you’re getting ready to participate in a Twitter Chat and let them know the hashtag you’re using, in case they want to mute it. You could also take the time to invite them to participate in the chat with you, and expand the network of engagement by getting the conversation out to more people.
- Use Columns: One of the reasons I like and highly recommend HootSuite as a social media management dashboard service is because it gives you the option of separating your conversation by columns. Columns help you parse the discussion and make it more manageable. Having columns for your Mentions, Direct Messages (DMs), and the Twitter Chat Hashtag (#) will make it easier to follow the conversation and respond to messages you may receive from other chatters during the session.
- Always Respond with Your Twitter Chat’s Hashtag (#): It’s very important that all of your responses during the Twitter Chat include the chat’s hashtag, as that’s the way that others will be able to follow the discussion. As a general rule of thumb, if you can keep your responses between 100-120 characters, that works best because it leaves room for the chat’s hashtag, as well as space for others to retweet (RT) you, if they find your messages worth sharing. Also, if the moderators of the discussion are asking questions in the “Q(uestion)1, Q2, Q3” format, be sure to include “A(nswer)1, A2, A3” in your responses, along with the chat’s hashtag.
- Retweet (RT) Others That Make Good Points: As with an offline conversation, you want to positively reinforce communication with those you’re conversing with. A retweet (or republication of another person’s tweet) is a great way to elevate someone’s tweet to a broader audience (i.e. your followers). Retweets are also very helpful if you note that someone within the chat has made a point that you’d like to make. A retweet can help you share the idea, without having to repeat what’s already been said.
- Connect With Other Chatters: Since a Twitter Chat is a great way to connect with like-minded individuals, it presents an excellent way to meet new people in the digital space. You can create a Twitter List and add the chat’s participants to it, or you can choose to follow the chatters that interest you.
So, are you ready to participate in your first live Twitter Chat? Well, you’re in luck! The Institutional Diversity Blog is conducting its inaugural Twitter Chat entitled “Twitter, Twitter Chats & the Diversity Professional: Leveraging the Real-News Network to promote Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)” on Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 3PM ET with the hashtags #DiversityCAN (for Canadian chatters) and #Diversity4US (for U.S. chatters). We’ll be simultaneously conducting the chat on both hashtags, so you can follow along with the discussion by country. We’d love for you to join us!
*Note: You will need to register for an Institutional Diversity Blog account in order to comment, but you can get started right away by clicking here, or visiting our FAQ page for more help. Also, check out this video on "Registering for an Account on The Institutional Diversity Blog".