Saturday, March 9, 2013

Twitter Parties 101

If you follow me on twitter (and if not, why not?  my ID is @mel1206, follow me - hehe) then you know that at times my tweeting will blow up.  I will use hashtags like #DoveDiscoveries (a party scheduled for tonight) or #criminalminds (my favorite TV show).  You will also see that I do a lot more mentions, and interact far more with others.  Why, for this hour or so at a time is my Twitter blowing up?  Easy - it is because I am participating in a Twitter Chat or Party.

Twitter Chats are more for a group of people getting together at a specific time to talk about similar interests - like #android or #ABlogChat.  During these chats you will get together with someone who is also interested in that subject and discuss it.  It is a great time to find others as a sounding board for your ideas or get answers for your questions.  Also - if you run a site, it is a great way to find followers for your site.  Hmm ... I am thinking I need to start hosting a #frugal and/or #couponing chat --- I don't see one on my go to list.  Would you be interested in that?  Let me know!  While there is a schedule for some Twitter Chats, there are also the Twitter Chats that occur during television shows - and of course those schedules are determined by the time that the show is airing.  These are pretty much held only during the regular season.

Next up are Twitter Parties.  These are usually parties hosted by representatives of a specific product, and generally have giveaways.  For example, the #DoveDiscoveries chat I mention above is being hosted by @MomCentral and @DadCentral, and is sponsored by Dove Chocolate.  There of course is a prize, which is usually the case with the parties:  Six people will win a Dove Chocolate Discoveries Chocolatier Starter Kit.  Now, you may be wondering what the benefit of the party is?  Beyond the chance to win a cool prize, this is an excellent way to network with would be sponsors for your blog.  If you have a PR (Product Review) friendly blog, this is an excellent way to get on their radar.  Not to mention you end up with a great networking experience.Kelly, of Kelly's Lucky You Blog, was nice enough to gather together a Twitter Party schedule.  New ones get added all the time, so be sure to go back and check.

If you are completely new to participating in these, you may be wondering just how you can go about participating.  I mean - at first it can seem a little one sided, as you aren't really friends with the people that are participating in the chat, so how can you really get any conversation going?  There are a few ways to do this, here are three that I know best.  If you know of another good way, please feel free to comment.

  1. You can use the search function on twitter and do a search for the hashtag of the chat/party you are participating in (e.g. #dovedoscoveries).  Then you can retweet (RT), reply, and/or tweet from there.  This method can be extremely cumbersome as you will be on different screens and can't tweet on the same screen that you will be looking at for the chat/party.  The next two ways I have listed are much more dynamic.
  2. TweetGrid.com:  This is an in browser way to look at more than one thing at a time.  You can set up a column and rows of what you want to look at for the party/chat.  For example.  If I were participating in the #DoveDiscoveries party I would set up a 3x2 grid.  In the top row I would do searches for:  @momcentral (the moderator), #dovediscoveries (the hashtag), and @mel1206 (for replying to mentions) on the second row I would do only two searches for: @dadcentral, @staceydebroff (the co-moderators) and @dovedoscoveries (the special guest)  With this set up I will have a good idea of what is going on - all on one screen.  Occasionally this platform can be buggy, and doesn't work well if you are using a smartphone and/or tablet - so I tend to favor the following option.
  3. TweetDeck.com:  If you are using Chrome, you can use this as an in browser solution; however, you can also download a separate application. (this is what I do).  No - this has a setup similar to the previous solution, but there is no rows, just columns.  You can set up searches for each of your columns, similar to what I have listed above - and you can also have a column for Direct Messages (DMs) which is the biggest selling point over TweetGrid.com, as well as a column to see any new followers you get out of the chat/party.  This is by far my favorite way to participate in a chat.
  4. HooteSuite.com:  This is very similar to TweetDeck - but has some more powerful scheduling features.  These aren't needed for a Twitter Party, so I won't get into them on this post.  This is an in browser solution, but has the feel of a separate program.  The only annoying factor of HooteSuite is that once you sign up, anytime you click on a twitter link from another site it wants you to go to HooteSuite to view the profile.  I generally get around it by typing in the profile; however, if you don't need to use HooteSuite to schedule posts then I would recommend TweetDeck.**
TweetDeck and HooteSuite are both available as smartphone applications, this is especially useful if you want to chat about a show you are watching over twitter.  I would not recommend it for a Twitter Party, as the conversation can get to complex to follow on the screen limitations a phone has.**

I always set things up about 10-15 minutes early because just like any get together there are those early arrivals that are great to converse with.

This was originally posted on a previous blog of mine on 10/4/11.  I have re-posted with a couple of additions (indicated by **)

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