How to use HootSuite to Manage Twitter Chats
HootSuite is a tool for social media management that we've talked about and referenced many times. I am a certified HootSuite Solution Pro, which means that I have been trained on not only how to use HootSuite, but how to help business owners understand how they can use HootSuite to manage and monitor their social media accounts. We are continuing our series on How to Make the Most of Your HootSuite Account by reviewing how to use HootSuite to find, monitor and participate in Twitter Chats.
One of the more interesting aspects of Twitter usage that has evolved over time is that of Twitter Chats. Chats on Twitter are conversations, often between complete strangers, that revolve around a specific hashtag. The hashtag is a requirement, as it is the linking of tweets through the hashtag that powers the chat. Instead of using Twitter.com or one of the available Twitter Chat tools, I recommend that you take a look at using HootSuite.
Twitter Chat Explained
A Twitter Chat or Tweet Chat is using Twitter to talk about a common interest with others during a preset time. It's like an online chatroom where you add to the discussion by tweeting. Each time you tweet or respond to a tweet within the chat, you simply have to ensure that you include that chat's hashtag so that it's linked. If you'd like to find a scheduled chat on a topic you're interested in, you can check out the Tweet Chat directory at http://twubs.com/p/hashtag-directory/twitter-chat/1064600_179
You can also start your own Twitter Chat. Simply pick a hashtag that isn't already used (just search the hashtag to see if anyone else is using it), and then promote it to your followers. Choose a time and topic and work on making sure that it won't be just you participating. Jesse Wodjolyo's #GooglePlusChat is a great example of a new and growing chat.
First of all, let's just call this out. Participating in a Twitter Chat can be fun! It's exciting to suddenly be talking with people from all around the world on a topic, and have those tweets and comments come flying in.
But more importantly, from a business perspective, it's an opportunity for you to connect with and engage other Twitter users in a way that you would never be able to accomplish on your own. By participating in the conversation and injecting your comments, you create opportunities for you to connect with new people, whether they're influencers in your industry or potential clients.
If you're already using HootSuite, as I am, to manage and monitor your social network activity, this will be a natural extension of that usage. If you aren't, sign yourself up for an account and get your Twitter account connected. And note, since you can connect multiple Twitter accounts to HootSuite, you can actually participate in a Twitter Chat using HootSuite as yourself or your brand, or both.
What makes HootSuite better than Twitter web is that you can save a chat as a stream in your HootSuite dashboard. This will let you monitor the chat easily, as well as jump into it at any time without having to remember the right hashtag or do a search. And as we mentioned in our earlier article on Tabs & Streams, you can actually create a Tab just for Twitter Chats, and have multiple chat streams saved within it (up to 10).
Within HootSuite, in the upper right corner, do a search for the hashtag of the chat you with to join. You'll see a number of tweets show up in the results. At the bottom of the results, there's a button to "Save as Stream." This will allow you to save that search, and that chat hashtag, as a stream in your tab.
You can now view the chat as it occurs in a saved stream. You can use the HootSuite tools to favorite and reply to tweets from other participants, and use the Compose dialogue to create tweets of your own. Just be sure to always include the hashtag for the chat.
On a regular basis, the HootSuite stream will check for and indicate that there are new tweets available to view. Remember that each stream has its own refresh button so you don't have to refresh your entire screen - just that chat stream.
The beauty of using HootSuite is that it allows you to monitor and manage your total Twitter activity simultaneously. I mention this because, if you're involved in a chat and you're providing valuable information, other participants and observers are likely to retweet your tweets and mention you, and may even send you a direct message if they have a private conversation. HootSuite allows you to easily manage all of these facets at the same time. If you like the idea of using a dedicated Tab for chats, you can always add a Mentions and Direct Message stream to that tab, alongside your saved chats.
I would encourage you to find a couple of scheduled chats that are on topics that interest you, and take place at a convenient time for your schedule. And if you're free on Tuesday afternoons at 2 p.m. EST, you can find me regularly participating in #GooglePlusChat.
Next time, we're going to cover how to automate your social media activity with HootSuite (and why that can be good thing).
Image courtesy of USDAgov, Flickr.