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Get the most out of Twitter chats

By Alyssa Korinke
September 12, 2016
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Are you a connected educator? Whether you have a professional learning network (PLN) in your school or you link up via social media, connection is the key to innovation and growth as an educator. Twitter  and Twitter chats in particular  have become an effective way to build those networks and share your learning. With its own set of rules and jargon, a Twitter chat can be intimidating and tough to track. Follow these tips and you’ll be tweeting like a pro in no time.

1.  What exactly is a Twitter chat?

A Twitter chat is a conversation in real time connecting people from all over the globe who want to talk about a specific topic. Using a hashtag you can follow the conversation on Twitter or on other applications like TweetDeck or TweetChat. Typically these chats last an hour and consist of 6-8 questions posted by the host account and answered by participants.

Pro tip: Use the hashtag in every tweet.

Pro tip: A Twitter chat is a conversation, so don’t just answer the questions. Feel free to ask questions and comment on posts from other participants. If the chat is moving too quickly, just focus on a couple of users and interact directly with them.

2.  Who participates?

Twitter chats are most often hosted by professional learning networks (PLNs), corporate accounts or other organizations and have a specific focus or theme. Educators can participate in chats specific to learning models, areas of interest, geographical location or even specific districts. While it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the proliferation of chats, you can find a fairly extensive list here.

Pro tip: Participate regularly in a chat or two to build thought leadership and create connections.

Pro tip: Don’t want to miss tweets from a specific #eduhero or your PLN? Create a Twitter list of the thought leaders you want to follow.

3.  How do I get started?

The conversation moves very quickly, but don’t let that intimidate you. There are several tools like Tweetdeck or TweetChat to help organize the feed and more easily navigate the chat.

Use multiple streams or feeds to monitor the host Twitter account, the hashtag and your own mentions simultaneously. Toggling between windows or streams cuts down on confusion from having to search the hashtag each time you check your notifications.

Pro tip: Replying to tweets will link them in a conversation, even if you delete the @mention.

Pro tip: After the chat, reply to each person who mentioned you or commented on your tweets to further build your network.

Don’t miss #ISTEChat 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on the third Thursday of the month.