If you’re an active Twitter user, you’ve probably seen and used hashtags to classify your tweets as they relate to specific topics. Those hashtags allow users to participate in online conversations that create engagement and provide an opportunity to communicate their brand.
For the new users: How it works
Twitter chats are like an online chat room. It’s a conversation around a specific topic by like-minded users. Users signal to their followers that they are participating in the conversation with a specific hashtag that has been designated for the topic. Many times, Twitter chats are scheduled for a specific day and time. They may be moderated, with specific questions or topics posed to the group, or they may just be an open dialogue.
Why it matters
So why should you participate in Twitter chats? For one, it allows you to really connect with people. It’s easy to hit the “follow” button on someone’s page, but that doesn’t establish much of a relationship. You can @ reply other users, but that is often just a quick exchange.
Twitter chats can facilitate a longer, more detailed conversation among many users. Think about real life: if you just exchange a business card with someone, you’re not really connecting. If you have a more in-depth conversation with others or work on a project together, you begin to really get to know them.
Because you can follow the conversation thread via those third party applications, you may discover other users in your interest area that you aren’t following yet. It’s like hitting the jackpot of knowledge. Tons of users in one (virtual) place from which you can learn and discover new people to follow.
Twitter chats also provide an opportunity to share ideas with a large group of people who care about the same things you do and get great feedback. Maybe your ideas will be well-received. Maybe they’ll be challenged. Either way, you’ll learn a lot. You’ll probably pick up some additional followers, too. It’s a great brand building activity.
And, perhaps most importantly, you may find opportunities to help others. Users in your field of study or work may pose questions or share challenges. That’s your cue to provide potential solutions. Building relationships is about finding ways in which you might be able to help others.
To really use Twitter effectively you have to get engaged. Twitter chats are a powerful way to do that. Find a list of chats here. Consider joining the #u30pro conversation among young professionals. Or, begin your own!
Kelly is a career advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she assists undergraduate business students with all aspects of their career development. She wants to give a shout out to the #sachat folks who inspired this post and work day in and day out to support college students. Connect with Kelly on Twitter, LinkedIn orBrazenCareerist.