- 01/02/2018


What I Learned From My First Twitter Chat

In my first few months as SumAll’s content creator, I noticed a peculiar phenomenon happening on Twitter: something called a “Twitter Chat,” in which other content creators made do with Twitter’s limitations and got together to form something similar to a chat room by hanging out in one hashtag. At first I thought that was rather silly, because Twitter’s limitations really do limit you: from the character limit, to the inability to edit a tweet, I thought Twitter Chats were a bit of a reach.

But then I realized out of all the social media platforms, Twitter really was the only one to let strangers come together and network. And chatting through a hashtag really does work! By searching for a chat’s designated hashtag and lingering on the “Latest” filter, new comments come in just as they do with any chatroom. House rules request you to do things like reply to questions with the chat’s hashtag, and for each question (which would be marked Q1, Q2, and so on) respond with the respective answer number (A1, A2 – easy!).

The Prep

I decided to do a Twitter Chat for SumAll one slow Friday afternoon while my boss, Sam, was out of town skydiving at Niagara Falls (I think that’s what she said she was doing). As SumAll’s content creator, while maintaining our Twitter account, I would see other accounts partaking in them and slowly felt more and more assured that I could do one myself.

Choosing the topic was easy; ironing out the kinks was harder. Five days after I first tweeted out the invite and pinned it to the top of our page, someone pointed out that the date was wrong. How embarrassing! I thanked the person and decided rather than stewing in my shame, I would laugh it off. So I reposted the tweet like this:

And, because I’m so utterly charming, also this:

I am, after all, only human. Sure, I probably could have been more perceptive and realized the date was wrong, but mistakes happen, and it’s better to reflect on them than to dwell on them. Better yet, I learned two things: to have that perception, and to properly and professionally amend an error.

The Prep, Part II

Oh, yes, have some MORE prep! YOU get some prep, and YOU get some prep… and maybe having two parts to preparing for a Twitter Chat is a sign of how NERVE-RACKING it is to prepare one.

But hey, better to be overprepared than underprepared, right?

In the days leading up to the SumAll Twitter Chat, I participated in the Buffer Chat and Twitter Smarter, hosted by Madalyn Sklar. While I went into both chats with the goal of learning exactly how a Twitter Chat works, I left having made several new friends and having plugged not only a blog post, but my own Twitter Chat as well. Now I HAD to commit – people were putting the SumAll Chat in their calendars! There was no backing out now.

I also left these chats feeling confident that I could participate in meaningful discussions on Twitter. I mean, up until then, I was just posting graphics and GIFs to the SumAll page, not really engaging with anyone other than liking articles and retweeting them, but I realized the power of networking online was greater than I thought it was. Plus, I really appreciated connecting with other social media managers and content creators, and it was nice to meet other people who did similar things to me.

The Actual Chat

Friday the 22nd rolled around, and it was go time. I queued up my questions in Buffer, downloaded a bunch of reaction GIFs in case I needed them, and tackled some other work while I waited. It was Bagel Friday at the SumAll offices too, so I had a salt bagel with scallion cream cheese and lettuce, tomato, and onion. Delicious!

In the minutes leading up to 12 PM I posted GIFs in the hashtag. At this point I was extremely nervous because I noticed in more popular chats people would hang out in the hashtag before the official start, and no one was for the SumAll Chat. Fortunately, what I thought was just a bad sign was just me overthinking things, and when the clock hit 12, people were there.

It was a slow turnout at first. Sam, still wearing her safety goggles from skydiving, logged into her personal Twitter account to help me out as a participant, but to my surprise other folks started trickling in, too! All and all, we had maybe 10 participants in that hour, all of whom were lively and engaging.

So how did the actual chat go? Sometimes you get so engrossed in things, the whole experience goes by without you even realizing. Every answer was insightful and relevant, and unlike how I thought I would, I aced hosting it. No mistakes! No flubs! I was awesome, like Mariah Carey.

And the best part? People were asking when our next one was. People actually liked what I did, and wanted more!

So, shameless plug: you can tune into the SumAll Chat weekly starting January 5th, under the hashtag #sumallchat, at 12 PM EST.