How to rock a Twitter chat with Hootsuite

Last month Hootsuite launched #HootChat — a community sourced Twitter chat led by our friends, for our friends. Every Thursday at 12PT/3ET, Twitter peeps come together online to share knowledge about subjects that matter to social media practitioners (the real heroes!) worldwide.

The conversation moves fast! #HootChat generates more than two THOUSAND mentions during that hour period, which is a lot to look at using your normal Twitter display. Commonly people ask “How can I manage this conversation?” Here’s the secret sauce on prepping your Hootsuite dashboard for success:

Tab Setup

Once you’re logged into Hootsuite you’ll need a new tab within your Hootsuite dash, as we’re going to create a few chat-specific streams. Mine is named “Chat” as I use it to participate in several chats each week. Here’s a primer on creating new Hootsuite tabs:

Adding Tabs & Streams to your Hootsuite dashboard👉�

Search Streams

Once you’ve got the new tab going, you’re going to want to populate it with information streams. The first stream inside your new “Chat” tab is going to be the main chat stream — this stream will aggregate the entire conversation in one place. You’ll want to keep this stream fairly open, but it’s useful to remove retweets from it to cut down on the conversation volume a little.

Creating search streams with the profile you’re most likely to reply from will save time

For this main stream, you’ll be creating a “Search” stream for the chat hashtag (in this case #HootChat) and the syntax “-RT” to remove both old-style and new-style RT’s from the conversation.

If you use your Hootsuite dashboard to manage multiple Twitter accounts, make sure to create your search streams (including the ones we’ll talk about going forward) using the profile you’re most likely to reply from. This will make sure that your most-used profile is auto-populated as the default profile when replying to tweets during the chat.

Twitter chats commonly use a Q&A format to keep the conversation moving (here’s a sample question and answer). To make managing that conversation smoother, you’ll want to filter for these questions and answers in the chat stream. I recommend adding separate search streams with the following syntaxes to your Chat tab:

#HootChat AND (Q1 OR Q2 OR Q3 OR Q4 OR Q5 OR Q6 OR Q7 OR Q8 OR Q9 OR Q10 OR Q11 OR Q12) -RT

This search stream filters for chat questions only, allowing you to keep a pulse on how the conversation is progressing and which question is current. Also add:

#HootChat AND (A1 OR A2 OR A3 OR A4 OR A5 OR A6 OR A7 OR A8 OR A9 OR A10 OR A11 OR A12) -RT

This one is the reverse of the question stream — it filters for answers only, showing responses so that you can easily engage with others.

Depending on the needs and structure of the Twitter chat, it’s often a good idea to create streams with custom syntaxes. For example, Hootsuite’s #HootJobs chat doesn’t follow the Q1/A1 format of most chats, choosing instead a Q&A free-for-all with questions and answers sourced from the community. During this chat we used a search stream with the syntax “#HootJobs AND ?” to filter the conversation for questions only. I recommend testing and iterating on new search streams to find what works best for you.

Multiple Accounts

I often use more than one account to participate in a Twitter chat, especially in the case of #HootChat. We host that event using @HootCommunity, but often to build and nurture personal relationships I find it important to get out from behind that handle and respond using @mattddrchs. To manage the conversation from both handles, I will add the following streams to my Chat tab:

  • @Mentions for @HootCommunity
  • @Mentions for @mattddrchs
  • My Tweets for @HootCommunity
  • My Tweets for @mattddrchs

Bonus Tips

  • You can choose how often the chat stream updates, which you will find in the top left corner of each tab. I recommend setting the time period to “Every 2 minutes” for frequent updates.
  • The first time you type “#HootChat” copy that hashtag to the clipboard, so you can easily use “CMD-V” to append it to later tweets.

Tips to add? Tweet me @mattddrchs

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