Thursday, January 9, 2014

How to Attend a Twitter Party

Are you a blogger who has been invited to a Twitter “party” or “chat?” Are you a person who follows your favorite brands on social media? This post will help you to easily attend a Twitter party or chat with your favorite brands. I’m hoping it will be a super simple guide to accomplish your goal of interacting with your brand during a Twitter party.

First things first. You will need:
            A Twitter account which will give you a Twitter handle (username).
            High speed internet or WI-FI access.

It would also be nice to have uninterrupted quiet time to participate, but we all know how that works…

How to attend a Twitter party
Start your tweeting!

What if you don’t have a Twitter account? Set up is super easy. First, go to Twitter and set up an account. On the home page you’ll see “New to Twitter? Sign up” – fill in your information including your name, email address, and password you want to use for Twitter. You’ll be asked to go to your email and open an email from Twitter, and you’ll follow a link to validate your account (and prove you’re not a spammer). You’ll be asked to create a username – this is your Twitter handle, what you will use to send messages and how you’ll be known to others. You can easily create one based upon your name or you can make one up, just like when you created your email address. Once your account is validated, you’ll want to post a photo for your account (usually personal photos work best but photos of your cat or avatars will work). Click on the Me tab on Twitter, and hover over the area where the photo goes (top middle of your page). Click on where the photo goes and you’ll be able to upload a photo from your computer. You can also edit your profile and add information about yourself or your blog or your company. You can also add Header Photos and get all fancy with your page, but I won’t go into that here.

OK so you have an account, now what? We follow Twitter handles (usernames) with @ marks. You’re basically telling Twitter “I’m talking @ so and so.” So if I want to tag (tweet at) someone, I put @theirusername in my tweet. You can find friends or your brand by using the Search bar at the top. Search for people’s names, brands, anything, and something will pop up. Click on it and you can click Follow on a profile and poof, you’re following this person! Their tweets (posts) will show up in your feed (which will be on the home page).

What’s a tweet? It’s a 140 character post. If you’re on Facebook, you know that you can update your status and that it can be as long as you want. On Twitter, which is a micro-blogging platform (read micro: small), you can only use 140 characters (including spaces). So tweets will be short. You’ll see tweets that include a # - this is a hashtag. We can use hashtags before words or phrases on Twitter and people will use these hashtagged words or phrases to search for what they want to learn or find. For example, I have a giveaway on our blog right now for a Diono Radian RXT car seat. If I wanted to tweet about it (which I do), then I could write “#Enter to #win a @Diono Radian RXT #carseat on the #blog!” This way, the tweet gets posted on Diono’s Twitter feed (so anyone who follows Diono can see it) and anyone who searches for “enter,” “win,” “carseat,” or “blog” could find my post. #Giveaway is always a good one to use to get people to find your blog giveaways as well. I will also include a link to enter the giveaway (and the link should be short, so use a link shortener tool which you can find by doing a Google search for “link shortener”).

And now a Twitter party. So now back to our regularly schedule programming about attending Twitter parties. A brand or company will plan a Twitter party and will invite it’s readers/followers/customers to participate. A lot of times they’ll do this to answer questions from a large group, introduce a new product, or give away products. Attending a party can get overwhelming really fast, and here’s why. Let’s say that our blog, Mamas Around the House, is throwing a Twitter party. We invite all our readers (we have over 3,000 Facebook followers) and let’s say half of them show up to the party (holy cow that would rock). That’s 1,500 people on Twitter at once talking to us and talking about something such as a giveaway we’re doing. Imagine 1,500 people sitting in a room all talking (tweeting) at once. It can be chaos (with a capital K). I’ll tell you how to stay sane during a party in a second.

Party Announcement. The announcement for the party will include two things: who’s hosting (the Twitter handle of the host of the party, the person who is going to be tweeting to the readers) and a hashtagged topic to follow. Basically when I tell my readers to use a certain hashtagged word, I’m putting all of us who tweet using that hashtag in a “chat room” (just like the old school chat rooms). You can follow a hashtagged word and only see posts that have that hashtag, so that means that you can focus on posts that relate to your party. If I were throwing a Twitter party, I might email and Facebook my followers and say, “Tonight at 9 p.m. Central we’re throwing a Twitter party! Liz from Mamas Around the House is hosting – follow her at @MamaArndthHouse. We’ll be using #ilovetwitterparties to follow each other’s conversation. See you there!” So we have our host (@mamaarndthhouse) and our hashtag to follow (#ilovetwitterparties). We’re ready to…party.

Suggestion: After three years of doing these parties, here’s what I do. I open up Twitter on one tab in my Internet browser. I log in, and I go to the host’s page. I make sure I’m following them so that I can tweet at them (i.e., put their handle in my tweets). This allows me to see the host’s questions and reply to them by clicking Reply and tweeting back to them/answering their question (be sure to use the hashtag or you’re not “in the room”). In another tab I open an application that is designed for Twitter parties/chats such as Tweet Chat or something else (Google Twitter chat and a few will come up but I use TweetChat most often). Put in your hashtag. This will show you all of the tweets that are using that hashtag. It can get to be a lot. And they can refresh pretty quickly meaning that you’re trying to read someone’s post and click Reply and poof it disappears because the page refreshed and there were 20 more tweets (and 20 more…and 20 more…). To stay organized, follow the host, answer their questions, and only go back to the full feed tab every once in a while. If it’s a slow moving chat you’ll be fine, but as I said before, the more people, the crazier the party.

OK, now you’re ready – go attend a Twitter party/Twitter chat! Have fun and stay sane :) If you enjoyed this post, please share it with friends, on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Pinterest. Thanks!