If you’re average you didn’t read this article. If you’re above average you read the title and got this far thinking, “I thought Twitter was all chat”. Welcome, you’re going to love this if you read this far.
Twitter, in case you do not know, is the wildly popular global, open stream, 140 character text chat system. If you have been around long enough to remember the AOL chat room with 25 guests maximum image that with thousands of guests but limited to 140 characters including spaces called “tweets”. If you do not yet have a Twitter account here’s what I suggest:
- Spend a minute thinking about your Twitter “handle” aka your nickname on Twitter. Mine is@thekencook because @kencook was take. The @ symbol is automatically pre-pended so you do not have to include it when registering for your handle.
- It would be advisable, also, to keep SEO in mind and incorporate a keyword but that’s less critical than actually *having* a Twitter account. As you tweet and converse you can use keywords, especially in links, to help boost your SEO. Google does index Twitter tweets.
- Personally, I would double check to see if there is a domain name to match your Twitter handle available. For example I have thekencook.com to go along with my Twitter handle. You may want yumacondos.com or sencondchancehomes.com if you catch my drift.
- Keep in mind the shorter your Twitter handle the less characters your name will take up when people ReTweet (forward) your messages. My friend Jeremy Blanton has JB140 so his only takes up 5 characters. Jeff Turner has respres. I do recommend the shorter names if you can get one that works.
There is more to it that just these but for starters you should be good to go with those. (You actually can change your Twitter handle later if for some reason it is necessary like when I was employed by AmericaHomeKey and ran their account and they terminated my division – I just kept it and changed the name to RefLeads http://twitter.com/refleads for example.)
Now that everyone has a Twitter account, ahem, let’s look very briefly at how a “Twitter chat” is different from “chatting on Twitter” and a basic look at how to do one right.
When you chat to an individual on Twitter in the open stream, not in Direct (private) Message, you prefix their handle with the @ symbol like @thekencook would come to me. You will also see words that are prefixed with the # symbol like #smedge. Those are called hashtags and are used to set tweets apart to be followed by the #hashtag. #smedge is the hashtag for Social Media Edge.
To host a chat, let’s say for example a chat about new homes you may want to create the hashtag #nhs (keeping it short so it does not consume much of your 140 character). Prior to just creating a hashtag, though, it is important to make sure it does not already exist or is not being actively used for another purpose. One way of doing so is simply to use the Twitter search function and searching for your hasthag like so: #nhs
That hashtag, #nhs, for example, is highly active because it has something to do with Nationalized Health Care in England evidently.
Another way to check, which does essentially the same thing but includes a nice little activity chart, is by visiting hashtags.org and doing the search from there. For example doing the search there for #blogchatshows a fairly active hashtag. Pick a hashtag that has not been used for several days to help ensure you aren’t stepping on anyone’s toes.
Once you have your Twitter account and have found a hashtag that will work you need to start building community around it. Firstly let all of your friends know. Do a Plancast announcement as well if you have followers there. You should also create a Facebook page with the name of the Twitter chat and invite your friends from Facebook who would be interested.