Twitter Chat Best Practices

twitter2There are a couple of Twitter books on my reading list including Twitterville by Shel Israel (@shelisrael) and Twitter Power by Joel Comm (@joelcomm). However, what I’m finding is that through experimentation with Twitter chats, I’m learning by doing and there are some excellent practices that I want to share.

Valerie Simon (@valeriesimon) and I are having a great time with #PRStudChat.  We started the chat session in August 09.  It’s proving to be a valuable experience for PR students, educators and pros – based on the positive feedback we’ve received.  Here are some of the best practices we’ve learned from the #PRStudChat experience:

  • Use other forums to integrate into your Twitter chat.  For example, we use a LinkedIn discussion group to post notices about #PRStudChat, to keep the conversation going in between sessions and to answer more questions that students may have (whether it’s about how to set up for a twitter chat or perhaps to get feedback on an unanswered question).
  • Use a Twitter client to organize the chat session, whether it’s TweetGrid or TweetChat. They are both very good and make it easier to view the dynamic conversations.  You can adjust columns so that you can see the entire #PRStudChat discussion, but also monitor specific people, whether it’s the moderator, host, special guest or an active participant that you want to engage with during the discussion.
  • Break the conversation into numbered questions or topics and post your tweets according to those numbers.  It’s so much easier for people to immediately note which question you are answering and also to follow the fast paced movement of the session.
  • Recap the numbered questions/answers after the chat is over.  Valerie has done a fantastic job doing this for #PRStudChat. Our participants can see the important highlights and learn even more from the group.  It’s especially important to recap as we tend to miss relevant comments that go by or we’re not fully able to digest all of the information during the session.
  • The recaps also help to see which comments are the most useful for the group as they are often retweeted a number of times. You can also use them as a form of research; they may point out potential topics that we dig deeper into for future sessions.
  • Use reward and recognition for your twitter chats.  For PRStudChat we do promotions, such as a book giveaway.  In September @PRtini received a copy of Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and we have another exciting promotion that we’re announcing tomorrow for the October 21st session (but I don’t want to give it away now).

There’s a wealth of information that comes out of your Twitter chat and in order to make your upcoming sessions even better, it’s important to keep in mind the best practices.  What are some of your Twitter chat best practices?  Do tell!