The Twitter Chat Conundrum (Part Two)

twitter chat conundrum2

You all KILLED IT!

Last week our conversation centered around the twitter chat. How twitter chats, in general, may be improved and I have to say the response was great. I loved having your voices added to the conversation, including those of some of chat moderators; an unanticipated bonus!

This from Doug, was my favorite – talk about taking ownership. “People are coming to hang out with me for an hour. An HOUR of their free time. I owe them a lot. I owe them the best possible chat and the most open environment.”

This from Bruno: “There are new options to activating chats like we activate learning. Blab, periscope, google hangouts, Agora mode should all be explored together… I can’t answer for others, but I’m open to share emergent practices.”

You will see reflected in this post just some of the many wonderful comments. One idea gaining momentum is the idea of cross over chats. Why not? If CSI can do it, surely we can make it happen in twitter chats? Laura said it here“Love the idea of linking chats, or at least of planning for the same topic to be addressed at a similar time amongst various chat groups. Would be fun to cross reference other groups and see different points of view.” Helen seems concur:  “love the idea of linking learning between chats, having a plan of content coming up and having facilitative moderators.”

Which will be the first “Learning” chats to create a cross over event and connect their participants?


Part 2 is all you!

The participant. The chatter. What is does your role look like in this newfangled chat we’ve created?

Modern day intellectual silo?

A modern day intellectual salon is how I always viewed twitter chats. However, perhaps now, the twitter chat has become the new silo. When we are silo’d we see the same people, same messaging and same comments.  JD makes mention of this (full comment here): “As is true of many other forms of social exchange, chats can also get stale based on the engagement level of participants, lack of newcomers/fresh perspectives, poor moderation, etc…” 

This may be partly due to chats having a redundancy in questioning, but perhaps it’s in our rush to say the “right” thing that we fall back on the same answers? This is why as experienced participants; part of our role is to allow some new blood to get in a tweet edgewise. If we think about twitter chats as being the modern day intellectual salon of our times, then the wiser of us will stand back and let others do some talking.

In my observations, chat responses have become, who can tweet the standard answer first. Those of us old timers know the “expected answers” and boy are we in a rush to be the kid in the front row with our hand up. Because of this, we have become what is wrong in L&D today in general. We aren’t letting the new participants think.

The questions appear to be rigged to a certain answer and in fact appear quiz-like.

tweet quote quiz
Why phrase chat questions like quizzes? (click box to see full conversation)

Time for a different chat format? As JD states (full comment here): “I have also come to appreciate more free form chats over time as well. While I still enjoy the scheduled question/response format, opening a topic for rapid, random conversation is sometimes more stimulating, especially for those who can keep up.” 

Free form chats do have a critical component – for participants to, you know, participate! “Lurking” (the twitter name for observing a chat without participating) is a good start. However – for you to get the most bang for your buck, one needs to jump into the water.  (Unsure where to start, check out my slideshare on twitter chats)

Auditions are Open. 

So where do you fit into all of this? Participants have a responsibility to their chat group. If you don’t understand the questions, say so. If you need clarification, ask. Debate is usually encouraged, but debate doesn’t happen on it’s own. It takes two baby. It’s like your first girl/boy dance. Someone has to make the move.  As Joanne said: [ctt title=”I have participated in chats that seem too predictable. I want to be pushed. Sometimes I want the chat to be risky. Joanne Fuchs” tweet=”I have participated in chats that seem too predictable. I want to be pushed. Sometimes I want the chat to be risky. Joanne Fuchs” coverup=”zn0a1″]

I encourage you all to push the boundaries.

Pick a role, any role. 

The Recruiter: How are you sharing your favorite chat? How are you talking about it? Are you encouraging others to participate? Chats are only as good as the fresh voices and opinions that are within it. How are you bringing in new peeps?

Greeter: This person welcomes and helps warm up the group. There is A LOT of back end stuff happening moments before a chat kicks off so this would be of benefit to the moderator.

Fire fighter: The person who alerts the moderator via DM of general trouble. Observing chat comments such as the questions are coming to fast, too slow or there are technical issues or trolls. Gail makes a good point (Full comment here): “I’m not terribly fond of strong debate or argument, and I have stopped commenting on chats where such things are taking place. I believe the moderator should step in when people are being a bit too forceful or offensive, but I don’t often see that happening.”

The follow-upper: We all can do this – follow up on comments, ask deeper questions, don’t be content to tweet an answer and kick back.  Again from Gail (she was on a roll): “It’s helpful to have a fellow chatter comment on something I’ve said, especially when he or she is clearly trying to be thoughtful in his or her answer… I have often been pointed in a new direction or found great new resources through the responses others have made to my comments.”

The Resource Finder: Someone mentions a resource, document, website, etc – go off, find it, and share with the community. People who are the more experienced chatters can probably rotate or share this duty. You people are QUICK, put that skill to good use.

The Closer! Here’s what I miss. The take-away. The final thoughts. It feels like a letdown when all I get is a transcript. Which, honestly sometimes doesn’t make sense and comments are out of context. The closer write a short blog post sharing their own perspective of what they learned, how they might apply the knowledge and fun people they met,  We talk about connected learning all.the.time. Seriously. All.the.time. this would be a great first step to bringing the knowledge to the forefront.

The most important role you can play is active participant. Offer suggestions to the host for future topics or ideas. Drop a tweet to the host letting them know how you are going to use the resources. Be present at chats with your heart, not just your keyboard. [ctt title=”The most important role you can play is active participant. Be present at chats with your heart not just your keyboard.” tweet=”The most important role you can play is active participant. Be present at chats with your heart, not just your keyboard.” coverup=”Q0Td1″]

Find your fit and lurk. 

If you are looking to augment your current twitter chat calendar consider looking outside your industry, you will be amazed at what you’ll learn and where you go. Follow @ChatSalad and Twubs. Here you will find an abundance of chats on any given topic from knitting to puppies. If it is walking the Earth, it has a chat dedicated to it. As Michelle said (full comment here): “I have become more discerning regarding topic and won’t simply ‘turn up’ for a chat because it’s on the schedule – I have to see the relevance and potential value in the topic to me.”

This is where you “lurk”. Every chat has a “culture” and lurking to discover the culture is okay by me. The chat may be too fast, or aggressive. It may be too slow or not interesting to you. Go where you can have fun, learn something and where you feel comfortable.

As Kim says here: “I enjoy my Twitter chats. I enjoy the people, ideas, perspectives, humour, and exchanges. I also enjoy the hour of power that compels me to put aside all my excuses and commit to an interest I’ve been meaning to get to.” Find a chat that makes you feel like that!

You will find there is a great deal of cross over topics that relate to the L&D industry. Personally, I am spending time reviewing content marketing. So much to learn and so many chats to discover.

Wrap up. 

As reminder, running a chat is hard work. It takes a village. You know the chats that hold value to you based on your individual measurement of success. Thank you to all of you who are already thinking about the future, I’ve been tweeted at by peeps who are telling me they have already interacted differently in chats based on part one. That’s OUTSTANDING. This is what Rebels do, we just do it! 

I highly suggest you contact your favorite chat moderator and give them some suggestions. Perhaps you can be a greeter for them, or a closer? Who knows? Just like that boy/girl dance, someone has to take the first step. Let it be you.

Share you plans for follow-up. How are you going to take this information and be a catalyst for change in your next chat?



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Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

1 thought on “The Twitter Chat Conundrum (Part Two)”

  1. I like the way you outline the roles we can play in chats. As someone is is relatively new to all this “social media” stuff, this helped me to think about what it is I truly want out of participating in a chat and where/how I can add value.

    Like I mentioned previously, it hard for me to think on my feet so I think the follow-uper and closer roles are perfect for me. I do this some now but I also think that I try to do to much in general so maybe setting a goal where I participate in 2 chats a month, who’s topics interest me and reflect/follow-up.

    I also think these to roles are great for those new to chats or like me – can’t think that fast. This is how they can add value.

    Thanks again for encouraging us all to think through this and inspiring me to change my chat engagement practices.


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