How to Participate in #DadChat or ANY Tweet Chat

Category: Weekly Columns

Learning all the tools available in Social Media can be a challenge. I actually hired a tutor when I began my SoMe journey. It helped me get over my middle-aged resistance to learning new things. Now, I’m addicted to the pleasures, values, and camaraderie of Social Media. I’ve especially enjoyed participated in Tweet Chats, particularly the one I founded, #DadChat which is EVERY Thursday evening from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. PT/9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET.

Note: This column originally appeared on my friend Dave Taylor’s incredible website AskDaveTaylor.com.

I began with the granddaddy of them all, #blogchat, hosted and created by the wonderful and ever-so-gracious @MackCollier. Doing #blogchat as your first tweet chat is sort of like climbing Mt. Everest when you’re in the mood for a nice hike. #Blogchat has had upwards of 5,000 tweets during its Sunday hour from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., PT. For some perspective, 3,600 tweets would be one per second.

Obviously, that is mighty fast. I think it is like an old-fashioned ticker tape that was used to follow the stock market. If you follow such a speedy chat in real-time, you actually can get a headache.

I soon learned the value of using Tweet-Grid (tweetgrid.com) as one of those tools that just make life easier. It became especially valuable when I began #DadChat in April 2011.

Like most Internet tools, once you “get” it, it is simple. So, I will try to make getting it a little easier with the following explanations and views from TweetGrid.com.

Step One: Get on a browser and go to TweetGrid.com.
You will see the following image:

Step Two: Hit the 1X1 button above, which will allow you to just follow a single track of tweets with a specific hashtag like #DadChat. I just do the 1X1, but you may want to play around with multiple streams in which you can isolate those you want to follow and those that you don’t want to follow during a chat. You will then see the following image:

Step Three: Delete the text in blue unless you want to promote Tweet Grid. Then, hit the blue “Login” tab and you’ll be given a Twitter authorize page. Put in your twitter handle and password, hit the okay button, and you’ll then see your twitter name to the right of “User” where you see my name in the image above.

Step Four: Replace “twitter” as seen above just below my name and above “Settings” with the hashtag of the chat you want to follow or join. In the upper right, to the right on the word “Hashtag” add the name of your chat following the “#” symbol. This allows you to tweet without having to always put in the hashtag, as it will now be done automatically for you. Your screen, when you join #DadChat, will now look like the one below:

Now comes what may be the most important step and advantage of using TweetGrid, especially for an active chat.

Step Five: Hit the “Settings” image, which is in the blue just below “DadChat” in the image above. You will now see this view:

Step Six: Where it says refresh every “0″ seconds, this will give you the choice of how fast the flow of tweets will appear. If you leave the “0″ they come at you in real-time. I have found that between 15-25 seconds works well for me. So that means however many tweets are posted during 15-25 seconds will appear at once with whatever refresh rate you choose. Hit “Update Settings” in the lower left of the blue box. You will find what is comfortable for you. I chose 22 seconds – arbitrarily – for this post and it would now look like the image below:

You are now set to tweet away in the chat of your choice. You can lurk and just observe or, better yet, jump into the party. You tweet by writing what you want to say in the tweet box that has my sample tweet below:

You can hit the “Tweet” button in the middle or simply hit “Return” on your keyboard. Notice the red number of “56″ above. That means I had 56 characters left and that is your length monitor. It includes the number of hashtag characters. You will then see “Success” when the tweet has gone.

Note the “Success” above, which signifies your tweet, was sent.

Finally, here are a couple of additional tips.

You can reply or retweet by hitting the two blue arrows in the image below (far right…very small). When your mouse hovers over any tweet, that is when you will see those arrows. Be sure if you retweet that you are careful not to double up the hashtag name. In other words, delete that end of the RT where it appears.

Also, pay attention to the red numbers that indicate how many characters you have used or have left. I find that I often edit the RT for both length reasons and because I believe ANY retweet deserves a comment of some sort from you, before the “RT.”

One final note: the tweet in green at the top of the stream is always advertising.

Now you are ready to tweet with the best of us. #DadChat averages about 1,200 tweets each Thursday from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. PST and I average about 200 of them. I call it “Brain Exercise” because it’s intense, but oh-so-fun.

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  • http://twitter.com/SueSpenceDaniel Susan Spence Daniel

    Thank you so much for posting this! I was actually wondering how to do a tweet chat and how I could keep track of everything while participating in the chat. I have been getting training from my social media publicist on blogging, twitter and facebook and it’s crazy learning about all of these social media tools. I think I am starting to get the hang of everything though, which is good! And I agree with you, once you “get” it everything falls into place and it’s not that hard to use these tools :)

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Terrific Susan – now I expect to see you at #DadChat!

  • http://twitter.com/SteveCassady Steve Cassady

    From student to mentor.  Look at the progress you have made!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thx Steve, but #DadChat is work – fun/positive work, but work nonetheless!

  • http://twitter.com/eduart4kids Faigie Kobre

    just the info I was looking for…I’m fairly new to twitter and those hashtags have me scratching my head

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I’m so glad Faigie @Eduart4Kids:twitter I hope you’ll join us at #DadChat tonight?!

  • http://twitter.com/0macdaddy Mike D. ツ

    Thanx for this post Bruce. I REALLY could have use it last night when I joined #chatlog for the first time. 

  • http://twitter.com/0macdaddy Mike D. ツ

    Thanx for this post Bruce. I REALLY could have use it last night when I joined #chatlog for the first time. 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      My pleasure Mike. I hope you’ll join our Winter Sports edition of #DadChat Thursday – giving away ski lift passes to #TheCanyons in Park City!

  • Praveen Rajarao

    Bruce – This was a wonderful explanation of how to use tweetgrid. I am already hooked onto it and will hopefully join the DadChat this coming thursday. See you there. 

  • David Weber

    The Twitter screens are daggone busy, in terms of visual design and impact. I don’t know if there is any solution, but the results are inelegant and difficult to track.  On the other hand, I would imagine that you can get beyond that with a bit of practice and experience.  An analogy is looking at weather data that pilots consult.  The information is — well, it may be different now, I am talking about ten years ago or so — presented in a line of type that, to the uninitiated is indecipherable. But if you know what you’re doing, you can read and absorb the info fairly quickly.  It just takes some practice to go beyond the unhelpful visual design.  That said, when I read a set of tweets I can’t get through more than about a dozen.  The good news is that with the 140-character limit, the content is relatively easy to digest at a glance, once you get past the symbols and icons that to me clutter up the space (however important they are).

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      David, trust me – with your quick wit and sharp mind, you’d LOVE these chats!

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  • http://twitter.com/patricksplace Patrick Phillips

    I have heard of TweetGrid but never tried it, so I appreciate the tutorial, Bruce.

    As a general rule, I use two sites at once:  TweetChat in one tab and my Twitter Interactions from the Twitter homepage in the other tab. Between the two, I feel pretty confident that I am sure not to miss any direct mentions to me. The next chat I take part in, I may try TweetGrid instead of TweetChat, just to see how it goes.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @PatricksPlace:twitter - whatever works best for YOU as long as you participate in #DadChat and other great tweet chats…I learned on Tweet Grid and I’ve stuck with it…

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  • http://www.stirringtroubleinternationally.com/ Stirring Trouble International

    200 tweets that’s a lot interesting and thanks for sharing Tweet Grid. This reminds me of a journalist Tweet tool used about six months about that had a drop down menu, I have forgotten the name. The best one for chat I have used is one you can embed the conversations.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      The challenge – which I haven’t really figured out @stirringtroubleinternationally:disqus – is how to avoid Twitter Jail! That’s why I now have three twitter handles…it’s a stupid automatic feature on Twitter that doesn’t distinguish between spammers and people like me that are hosting a meaningful real-time event. You’d think by NOW they’d have figured that out!