How to keep up in Twitter chats

So you come here and you see that I am always talking about chats. I’m talking about #blogchat one day, #custserv another. So finally you crack and you decide you’re going to try #blogchat one fine Sunday night. And you come away thinking, “You have GOT to be kidding! I can’t keep up with that!!”

So, I’m going to offer some advice for you today. I often hand out this advice in 140 characters to people whom I see tweeting something along the lines of “Ahhhh!!!”

Before we get down to technology issues, there is one thing I believe whole-heartedly about Twitter chats, and this makes a big big difference.

For me, the goal is not to keep up. The goal is to carve my own conversations so that I can get what I need out of the chat and so that I can help other people. So I am going to tell you how I do that, and then I will offer you some information on how to accomplish that goal plus others.

I am a ping-pong ball

Now, I use the web version of Twitter, although new Twitter is making me seriously consider moving to an outside application like Hootsuite. But the general mechanism I’m going to describe would work the same way no matter where you are.

So let’s say we’re in Blogchat. There are 20 new tweets every twenty seconds (try saying that 5 times really fast) and it can be very overwhelming. So what I do is I skim through real quick and look for comments I want to respond to. Now in my case, I tend to look for question marks or for people who are struggling with the fire hose of information. Maybe you are looking for someone who has questions similar to yours.

Once I find a comment I want to respond to, I do so. I might look for one other to respond to. Then I go to where I can see replies to me – in the old Twitter that was my @ page. In the new Twitter it doesn’t exist during chats (grr). And in applications it can be your @ column. I wait a few seconds there to see if there are replies to my comments or replies from other people. If so, I respond to those. If not, I jump back into the main stream and look for more people to talk to.

This I think is a fairly different way of doing chats, but there really is not a way to see, let alone digest, everything everyone says during a chat, and most chat owners will send out archives anyway so that you can read at your own pace. For me the idea of the chat is to meet new people, help people out, and share ideas. So that’s what I do.

Other ways to keep up

A lot of people think I’m nuts, and one reason they think that is that I don’t use a Twitter client to participate in chats (this may be changing). However, I do see the merit in such things. So here are some other ways to handle the technological aspect of big chats.

Stan @pushingsocial put together this EXCELLENT tutorial on how to use TweetGrid for keeping up in #blogchat

Debra Leitl of MentorMarketing wrote a great article about how HootSuite strikes a sweet note

Finally, check out this post by Caroline di Diego (@CASUDI) on how she makes the most of online chats.

I hope this helps, but please don’t hesitate to ask any questions! And I hope to see you at a chat real soon.

Image by Cienpies Design.

Crystal - Prenatal Coach
Crystal - Prenatal Coach

Thank you! I've tried to follow #blogchat twice and gave up because I can't seem to follow any thread of conversation. I'm going to try your approach :)

casie stewart
casie stewart

A really great way to manage a chat is You can watch the chat there, comment and reply with the hashtag. I find it very useful and the best way to keep up.

Ian M Rountree
Ian M Rountree

I use tweetDeck (desktop version) for twitter almost exclusively - when in chat, I've got basically 3 columns: @ replies (necessity, always first column), the chat column (it's as easy as clicking on the hashtag - opens a new column for the hashtag's search), followed by my usual Active Reading column, so I can see if someone I want to pay attention to perhaps missed the hashtag. Those messages are almost the only ones I RT during a chat.

Keeping up on fast-moving chats is difficult, for sure - everyone's got their methods. It's pretty cool to see you manage the From Web version. :)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

so glad it helped! Let me know if it works for you in the chat, and don't be afraid to ping me at @margieclayman if you get lost. I'll talk to you and help you get hooked into the conversation :)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Thanks, Casie. I've heard a lot of good things about that one as well.

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Thanks for that added info, Ian. I have heard a lot of people say that TweetDeck works really well for Blogchat in particular!

And thank you for the kind compliment as well :)

Mike Crain
Mike Crain

I coudn't agree with Ian more. Tweetdeck (and really Hootsuite too) are excellent for following #blogchat or any other chat.

Because each of these can contain a number of Streams, it's nice to set up or "show up" a bit early with Tools "at the ready." ;) Tweetdeck can hold many Streams but they are side-by-side.....ALWAYS if you have many like me. HootSuite also has Streams but you put several Streams together as a Group. I'm really super new to all of this but it seems like a really great system for now. And, I'm not one for really wanting to visit a site (other than Hootsuite) for following a chat. I prefer to have my controls local.

And as you mentioned, the goal is really not "keeping up." For me, "keeping up" is similar to "running through" life with time to actually enjoy it. I prefer to engage fully when I do. The Stream can always be reviewed at a later date for more goodies and then go and meet other Tweeters. :)

thanks for a great read! cheers!

Mike Crain@mikecrain


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Toby Bloomberg and rob petersen. rob petersen said: RT @TobyDiva: Gr8 post & help frm @margieclayman How to keep up in a Twitter chat: cc #blogchat #usguys [...]

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