With Bout of Books just wrapping up and Armchair BEA on the horizon, this seemed like a good time to talk about how I approach Twitter chats. I like to think I’ve got it down to a science. I won’t say my system is perfect, but it’s what works best for me.
The downside of using TweetDeck as opposed to some of the other options out there is that it won’t automatically add the hashtag for you; I have to remember to paste it in. I really don’t think it’s a huge deal to hit ctrl-V after every tweet, but there are downsides. Sometimes I go over my character limit and don’t realize it until I paste in the tag. Sometimes I want to copy and paste a link or something else, and it takes me out of the groove to have to re-copy the tag afterwards. And sometimes I just forget.
But there’s no way I’d be able to follow a very active chat without my multiple-column approach… so for me, that outweighs having to use copy/paste and the issues that come along with it.
Let’s take a look at how I have everything set up…
The first “column” is where I enter the tweets. I make sure to check the “stay open” option at the bottom. I don’t know that it really saves time, but it’s much nicer than having all my other columns shifting back and forth every time I open up the tweet tab.
My first actual column is my own tweets. I like to have this here, especially in fast-paced chats, to make sure that my tweet posted correctly and that I remembered the hashtag. When the chat really gets moving, sometimes your tweet will be off the screen before you can even read it… and if you forget the hashtag, of course, it won’t show up at all, and you might not even notice.
(If you look back at the full-screen version, you can see that happened to me with my answer to A1, and I actually didn’t notice it until now. Normally I would have seen it, deleted it, and posted it again the right way. I guess I was too preoccupied with getting a screenshot for this post. I also missed it with my reply to @popqueenie… though I can’t remember now if that one was intentional or not.)
The second column is the hashtag, the chat itself. This is what you’re really following. This is what you’d see if you were using TweetChat or Twubs or (insert other options I don’t know about here). But, as I said, I won’t get the most out of the chat without everything else on my screen.
The next column over is the host. Again, this is especially important for fast-paced chats, at least ones that use a question and answer format. You don’t want the question to get lost in the midst of everything else going on. That’s why the host gets a column.
And finally (cut off a little bit because my screen’s not wide enough to fit everything perfectly) my notifications. I could also make this a mentions column, since seeing who’s favoriting or retweeting my tweets – while nice – isn’t the purpose for this column. This is so I don’t miss any of my incoming tweets. After all, chats are about more than just answering the questions. They’re about having conversations. That’s how you meet and connect with new people. And this way, I make sure I don’t miss anything.
This all may seem a bit confusing if you’ve never used TweetDeck before. Maybe in the future I’ll create a more basic TweetDeck tutorial, but until then, here’s a decent one I found on Mashable: The Beginner’s Guide to TweetDeck.
It’s a bit outdated and doesn’t get everything right. It says you need to download an app, but the web version works just fine. It says you need to create a new profile, but you can just log in with your Twitter name and password. But in terms of setting up and navigating columns, this will get you going.
So… how else does everyone else follow chats?