How Does a Twitter Chat Work?


So, you’ve learned about one of our stakeholder engagement Twitter chats and RSVP’d.  Excellent. Now, how in the world do these Twitter chats work?  This is a step by step guide which should suffice whether you’re completely new to Twitter or have some basic experience.

First things first:

1) Sign up for a Twitter account.  Well that was obvious, no?   If you are truly new to Twitter, you’ll want to take a few minutes and learn what it’s all about.  A Twitter chat happens to be a great learning experience, but please go over the 101 first!

2) Now, take a moment to understand what a hashtag is. It’s simply an arbitrarily agreed upon word or phrase which is used to organize Twitter around a topic. Lets say you want to see what’s happening on the topic of corporate social responsibility. By simply searching for #csr, then you can see all of the conversation around that topic. There is chatter on that topic going on 24/7, but by using the hashtag you can drop in any time and find something interesting.

3) What we do during a Twitter chat is basically the same thing except that we’ve agreed with a few other organizations to make a coordinated effort to converse on a particular topic, at a particular time, using a specified hashtag.  This makes things nice and organized.

Okay now what? Here’s the step by step when it’s time for the chat to begin:

4) About 10 minutes before the chat is scheduled to begin, log into Twitter and search for the designated hashtag which should have been provided to you.

5) Pay attention to tweets coming from the moderator (in our case @triplepundit) for any last minute instructions.

6) Our chats always begin with a structured interview between us and a subject.  We will begin the chat by asking the subject some questions using this format:

@triplepundit: “Q1: How is your day going? #hashtag”

@subject: “A1: Well, my day is going great! #hashtag”

Notice that each question is numbered “Q1, Q2, etc…” and each answer corresponds to a numbered question: “A1, A2, etc…”
Notice that everything must contain the #hashtag

7) If you’d like to say something, just tweet it with the hashtag! If you want to refer to a question or answer, just include “Qx” or Ax” where “x” is the number of the question or answer.  We will take note of your questions and organize them for the subject, then re-tweet them with a number.

8) Later, we’ll announce that the chat is an open dialogue.  At that point you’re welcome to share your own thoughts, ask more questions and directly address other people in the chat (simply include their twitter handle in your tweet).

Still confused? Don’t worry, you have to try it a few times before it all sinks in.  We’re here to help!


Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.