Twitter Chats 101: A Step-by-Step Guide To Hosting or Joining a Twitter Chat

twitter chatsA few months ago we started up a new Twitter chat series, #Bufferchat.

So far, we’ve talked about everything from productivity to social media monitoring and lots of other topics in between. These days, we have up to 185 participants each week, sending out nearly 2,000 tweets. It’s a true delight!

Along the way, I’ve been learning the ins and outs of operating a Twitter chat and testing new tools and ideas to optimize our chat even further.

It’s amazing how much there is to know, both for the chat host and the chat participants! I’d be thrilled to share some of our best tips and techniques with you. Twitter has been an awesome learning experience in so many different ways, and chats are no exception.

Whether you’re a Twitter pro or newer to the network, whether you plan to host your own chat or if you look forward to participating in others, a bit of advance preparation could help. Here’s what we’ve discovered so far to help you make the most of Twitter chats.

Twitter chat basics

What is a Twitter chat?

A Twitter chat is where a group of Twitter users meet at a pre-determined time to discuss a certain topic, using a designated hashtag (#) for each tweet contributed. A host or moderator will pose questions (designated with Q1, Q2…) to prompt responses from participants (using A1, A2…) and encourage interaction among the group. Chats typically last an hour.

Imagine a business networking event—but without a dress code and with a keyboard instead of a bar. The same social customs apply—courtesy and respect—and it’s a great way to meet new people with similar interests. There are Twitter chats in almost every industry imaginable.

[Tweet “Twitter chats are business networking events – minus the dress code. “]

Why participate in a Twitter chat?

Twitter chats provide a chance to network and grow your circle (and knowledge!) through shared interests. Through our #Bufferchats, we’ve discovered a whole host of useful tools, tips, and super savvy people whom we might not have otherwise connected with.

How to find a Twitter chat

There are many ways to find Twitter chats, most of which happen on a fairly regular basis. Try the following links to find a chat that meets your interests or industry.

6 tools for a more productive Twitter chat

At the most basic level, you can participate in a Twitter chat simply by entering the hashtag into a Twitter search and interacting with people there. But there are many other great tools that help organize and filter tweets into a stream for easier conversing.

One of the major benefits of these tools (specifically Tweetchat and Nurph) is that they automatically add the hashtag to your Tweet, which can save you lots of time—Twitter chats move fast!


Tweetchat is a simple, powerful tool to quickly interact and reply to Tweets. Once connected to your Twitter account you can easily keep up with fast-paced Twitter chats as it updates and refreshes in real time.



Nurph is a comprehensive Twitter chat tool with rooms for chats, replays of chats and RSVP functionality too. If you’re hosting a chat, definitely look into this tool as it also provides analytics. Nurph also has a great video series about Twitter chats that are worth a watch!



Twchat connects with your Twitter account and provides rooms for your chats.



Hootsuite organizes your social media profiles or searches into streams that you can easily scan and manage. This is one of the favorites for following along and organizing social content.



Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter and integrates seamlessly with your Twitter account as a login. This is a beautiful, simple way to keep on track with a Twitter chat.



After the excitement is over and the chat concludes, it can be helpful to scan back through a Twitter chat to check out tools, resources and point you might have missed.

Lots of chat hosts put together chat recaps for this purpose. If you’re the host of a chat, Storify is a straightforward, effective way to create a recap of each chat. Simply add in the hashtag into the Twitter column on the right hand side and drag and drop tweets into the story column to organize and construct the story of your Twitter chat.


Here is an example of the Storify for our last #bufferchat.

10 quick tips for Twitter chat participants

10 Tips for Twitter Chats

  1. Give your Twitter followers a heads-up before you join a Twitter chat (“High tweet volume warning”) and share an invite to join the chat if it might be of interest to your followers.
  2. Reply directly for targeted conversations with one or two people.
  3. Include a “.” in front of an @ if you want your tweet to show up in all feeds. (Don’t worry if you’ve flubbed this in the past; it’s one of the most common Twitter mistakes!)
  4. It’s OK to dip in and out of a Twitter chat. Drop by for the time you have and don’t feel guilty if you can’t stay for the whole thing.
  5. Be polite and positive! :-)
  6. Don’t be afraid to contribute and jump in! It can be intimidating, but trust me, the moderators and participants will be glad to hear from you!
  7. When answering a specific question or comment from another participant, use Twitter handles to identify who you’re speaking to in order to avoid confusion.
  8. Remember Twitter chats are about connecting and learning, not selling your product. Use the time to provide as much value on the given topic as possible and show your expertise without over-promoting.
  9. Always include the chat hashtag in your responses.
  10. Follow up with people after the chat! Keep the conversation going or get to know fellow participants on a more personal level. You never know what new connections you can make!

6 steps to hosting your own Twitter chat

There are tons of great chats out there! And if you can’t find a chat that you’re looking for, why not start your own? Here’s what you need to know about hosting a Twitter chat.

1. Participate in plenty of chats first

If you’re planning on hosting a chat of your own, make sure you learn the ropes first. Try to join in several Twitter chats in advance of your own . If you participate heavily, you’ll start to get the feel of the flow, the speed, and the types of interactions you’re likely to see as host.

While you’re participating, test out some of the tools mentioned above and see what fits best for you.

2. Choose a hashtag: Make it brief and clear

Your chat will need its own hashtag. Picking the ideal hashtag can be tricky business—there are tons of chats already out there, and you want to pick something brief (since it will be appended to every tweet), clear and simple. Bonus point if it’s easy to relate back to your business or perhaps even branded to you or your company.

We originally hosted #toolschat several years ago, but when we decided to launch back into the Twitter chats, we felt a more branded hashtag might be best to tie it back to Buffer.

You can register your hashtag on Twubs to provide a place where people can learn more about your talk or topic.

3. Schedule your chat: Consider your audience, time zones

When it comes to scheduling the best time to host your chat, consider your audience. Are they in multiple time zones? Are they most active with you on Twitter during the day or in the evening? It’s OK to experiment a bit to find the best time or even ask your audience what they’d like!

For #Bufferchat, we wanted to make sure as many timezones as possible could partake, so early in the day for Pacific time, midday for East Coast and Evening for Europe worked well for us!

We also wanted to be conscious of not conflicting with too many other chats (though this may be inevitable—did we mention how many there are?)

As you promote your Twitter chat on Twitter and other social media spots, make sure you post the time zone since anyone around the world can join!

4. Topics and questions: Plan in advance

Once you decide what your chat will focus on, start brainstorming possible topics and questions in advance so you can build out your schedule.

At Buffer, we often look at our popular blog posts for topic ideas, since we know these seem to resonate with our audiences. But we’ve also kept an open mind and asked our guest speakers what might work best for them.

Write down the questions ahead of time—5 to 8 questions should be a good number to get you going. Be sure to include a few alternative questions you might want to add in depending on the direction of the conversation. It’s great to be flexible and go with the flow. Sometimes chats can go in different directions than you intend, which can lead to great things!

5. Consider special guests

Bringing in special guests to answer questions and lend their expertise can help your chat reach new audiences.

We were so excited to have Peg Fitzpatrick from Canva as our first #Bufferchat guest, which allowed for several participants to be introduced to Canva, a tool we love for creating visuals. We have a lot more special guests on the way!

Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask an expert in your field. It’s likely a flattering request and if it doesn’t work with someone’s schedule, they’ll let you know. Be sure to communicate clearly and send questions ahead of time so the guest can prepare.

6. Encourage and engage

When your chat gets going, get fired up! The next hour will be an awesome blur.

Make sure you encourage participants to join in and introduce themselves at the start. Large chats can be intimidating, and asking your community to welcome the new folks can help foster engagement.

Over the course of your chat, you’ll be busy as you keep the conversation moving, ask and answer questions, manage conversations, share resources, connect participants and generally try to be the best host you can.

Experiment and have fun. Enjoy the process—and the rush!

Your turn

Have you participated in Twitter chats before? How did it go, and what tips would you offer? If you have yet to join a Twitter chat, what questions do you have? Share with us in the comments!

Image credit: Death to the Stock Photo

  • Carol Varsalona

    This will be a great introduction to Twitter for our newbie participants. so thank you for this. I will retweet to #nyedchat.

    • NicoleMillerbooks

      Thank you so much for sharing the post, Carol! :) Hope it helps newbies for sure! :)

  • Catherine Quiambao

    Great article Nicole! Twitter chats keep me coming back. I love the meaningful conversations and the network you build from other chatters. My advice is to actively engage with the host, guest and co-chatters plus don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most communities are uber friendly and the learnings are worth it! See you at the next #bufferchat!

    • NicoleMillerbooks

      Thank you so much, Catherine! :) I love your advice about engaging and asking questions! People are always so receptive to it and so happy to help! :) Thanks for commenting and see you around the #bufferchat block! :)

  • Kate Tilton

    I love Twitter chats! First I started by participating in other chats and now I run #k8chat weekly. It is an amazing way to connect with a community.

    • NicoleMillerbooks

      I really enjoyed #k8chat, Kate! You’ve built such a great community there! Thanks for commenting here, too! :)

      • Kate Tilton

        Thanks Nicole! I love the #k8chat community. It was a pleasure to have you on the chat. :)

  • Anna Shelton

    So helpful! I’ve had some issues with Tweetchat lately, I love their interface but it’s great to have options. Anyone know of a good mobile tool? I often participate in tweetchats on the go, I’ve used but it isn’t my favorite. Would love suggestions!

    • Madalyn Sklar

      Hi Anna, for TweetChat have you tried logging out then back in? That works for me every time.

      • Anna Shelton

        I haven’t tried that, great idea! I’ll do that on my next tweetchat. Hope to see you in it!

    • NicoleMillerbooks

      Anna — thanks for commenting! I’ve always had good luck with Tweetchat’s customer service, like Madalyn says. :) I haven’t tried any mobile apps, though, so I’ll keep my ears open for some! :)

      • Anna Shelton

        They’ve been incredible on customer service (particularly publicly through Twitter!) but I do seem to have the problem frequently. I’ll stay tuned in case you find another option, but I used TweetDeck today and it worked like a charm!

  • Madalyn Sklar

    Well written Nicole! Twitter Chats are such a great way to meet and network with like-minded people. I host the weekly #ggchat (Thursdays 3pm & 9pm ET) for musicians and music industry professionals. I started it 3 years ago. I absolutely love it. My biggest advice to everyone is to participate. Don’t be afraid to jump in. So many people tell me they watch it but don’t know what to say. I tell them to start with “Hi” and go from there. We’re a friendly bunch. I’m a huge fan of It’s the best way to participate in a live Twitter chat. If you have any issues with it, tweet them @tweetchat and they will respond. They have great customer service! If it acts up, I log out then back in.

    • NicoleMillerbooks

      Thank you so much for your kind words Madalyn! #ggchat sounds amazing! :) We certainly love Tweetchat and I’ve also seen how great their customer service is! :) Thanks for commenting! I will let some of my musician friends know about #ggchat too! :)

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  • Maureen Sklaroff

    I would love to participate in Twitter chats, but have been having problems because so many of the one sin my niche (homeschooling and gardening) are at 6 PM PST, which is called the “cyanide hour” for families for a reason. The kids are hungry, tired, and cranky. Parents are just getting home from work. Dinner needs to be prepared…. It sounds like #Bufferchat is at 9 AM PST???? That actually works for me!

    • NicoleMillerbooks

      Oh I hope you can stop by, Maureen!! :) Thank you for reading!

  • Aurelie Chazal

    Thanks a lot for the article Nicole! I found myself lost the first time I wanted to join de Twitter Chat and finally just gave up. I think I’ll try again using one of the tools you talked about. The fact that some refresh in real time sounds amazing.

    I think I’ll still have a hard time starting out but your article really helps understanding the world of Twitter Chats better. I just have a question about the Buffer Chat, do you have several Buffer employees take part or you host through your main handle and that’s how you bring your input? I’ll try to join one soon but I’m just curious.

    • NicoleMillerbooks

      Aurelie —

      Great to hear from you! We have several of our employees help manage some of the tweets — it’s overwhelming at first for sure!

      It definitely gets easier and easier and I encourage you to come by #bufferchat – we’re a friendly bunch! And you don’t have to keep up with it all – it’s okay to let tweets slide by! :)

  • Khalid Raza

    Good read Nicole – I learned something new today about nurph. I used to use tweetchat but I see nurph is more power. Would you know if there any android app to join tweetchats?

    • NicoleMillerbooks

      Khalid –

      Sorry I’m not sure of any Android apps for Tweetchats – that’s a great question! I wonder if we could ask that at the next Bufferchat — those folks are so savvy!!

      Join us if you can! :)

  • joshinteractiveqa

    Great article, Nicole. And thank you for #BufferChat. The next article will have to be how not to get addicted to Twitter chats! I track ~46 a week on my calendar and have had to learn to not try to be on every one! :)

    • NicoleMillerbooks

      Haha that article would be good too! :) I’m finding myself joining more and more! They’re too fun! :)

  • Angelique

    Sorry, but #3 is a HUGE mistake. Putting anything before an @mention BREAKS THE CONVERSATION. Now when other chat participants, as well as people who follow you, want to see everything before and after the broken tweet, they can’t.

    Your purpose in the chat should be to converse with the other chat participants. You should be tweeting so that you will best communicate with THEM, not the general public. If you feel strongly about getting that particular message out to the general public, create a new tweet without the chat hashtag and post it.

    Otherwise your article is full of good information.

    • NicoleMillerbooks

      That’s such a great point, Angelique! The flow of conversation is so important — I think we can definitely make clearer on #3 that those are for the tweets you would want to have in the full feed rather than just in conversation.

      Thank you for reading and commenting! That is so helpful! :)

  • John Furrier

    One new tool that is in public beta is our new CrowdChat an advanced social chat on hashtags. It has the new engagement container technology that automates lots of the manual processes. Anyone want beta requests just email us. Happy to demo and followup with anyone investing in building a community with social chats using #hashtags

    • Metin

      I just signed up John. I’d love us to connect and chat about some upcoming events where it could be mutually beneficial for CrowdChat and our clients.

      • John Furrier

        Great Metin. I’ll approve now. IBM was using it and found that they doubled the traffic & user consumption the 24hrs after they held a chat. Automating the transcript while having voting etc creates great post chat. Notice that crowdchat autobuilds the replies on twitter for better experience on twitter consumption. Everything is recorded and stored forever. finally stats are free. It’s being adopted by early adopter bc it’s a high end chat client for funded or program based social media. Here is example of 1 hr chat when it is completed. See you on crowdchat and DM if you have any questions.

        • NicoleMillerbooks

          Oh very cool! Thank you for commenting and sharing that tool! Sounds like something to check out! :)

          • John Furrier

            love to give you a demo anytime. it’s in public beta for creating chats but we are releasing access to social media innovators looking for automation and workflow integration to their social content efforts

  • Metin

    Great resource Nicole. As a sponsorship agency, I feel this is good reference for one-off events and even properties who are not familiar with, but want to integrate, Twitter chats into their activation.

    It might be useful to have an offline conversation about some upcoming events.

    • NicoleMillerbooks

      That’s awesome! Thanks for reading and commenting :)

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  • Lorena Di Stasi

    Great read, thanks Nicole. Have you any more suggestion on encouraging people to participating?

    • NicoleMillerbooks

      Lorena —

      Great question — I’ve found that most people return once they’ve tried it once. It is daunting, so maybe helping with tutorials or encouraging people to give it a test once at least can help with participation! :)

  • Amar Trivedi

    Great post! Thanks, Nicole. Excellent advice. Love the 10 Tips. I’d like to invite you and all at #bufferchat to attend #getrealchat Tuesdays 9pm ET. – Best mix of time + tech + talent on Twitter. And don’t even ask abt the dress code :-) 4 Twitter tips from me –> – Nice to tweet ya!

    • NicoleMillerbooks

      Amar —

      I’ve heard SO many amazing things about #getrealchat — so thankful you stopped by to mention it! :) I’ll definitely try to attend! :)

      Nice to tweet you too! :)

      • Amar Trivedi

        You’re most welcome, Nicole. It’d be great to see you there. Pam’s got a good thing going at #getrealchat Plenty of Buffer fans there! Met some amazing people incl. lifelong classmate @catherinequiambao:disqus :-)

  • Nicole Barbato

    Great article! I have been participating in a few chats lately and notice that when i use the hashtag my responses do not show up. Have you had any experience with this before or any insight to why this may be? Thanks!

    • Madalyn Sklar

      Hi Nicole! Have you tried using TweetChat? It works great for me and my chats.

  • Lynne/CarlynServices

    I’m a tweetchat newbie and just love it. Have met some of the most helpful people and learned some new tips along the way. Wish I had read your article/blog before I started, it has some great tips and advice.

  • peter bordes

    Hi All! We are thrilled to announce the launch of TweetChat 2.0 and @tweetchat FavePages! TweetChat has a new ui/ux and tools to chat. You can also now curate Twitter and chats. Everything you #fave is added to your FavePage

    • Madalyn Sklar

      Hi Peter, I love the new TweetChat. And Observer. Wow!! Thanks for rockin’ my world.

      • peter bordes

        Thank you Madalyn Sklar! A ton of thought went into both products. i am looking forward to your trying the Observer real-time analytics in #GGchat…

        Make sure to test drive the new TweetChat #FavePage Twitter curation feature

  • Tracey Westgate

    Thank you for this article, Nicole! I have been really LOVING Buffer and Canva and have been toying around with idea of assisting the owner of our company to host a chat. These very practical tips will get us started! Thanks.

    • Nicole Miller

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Tracey! :) Would love to hear if you started up that chat or not! :) Take care!

  • Tia Kelly

    Hey @NicoleMillerbooks:disqus! This is a great step-by-step… just one thing I’m wondering about that you didn’t include: what do you guys use to measure your own Twitter chat’s success after?

    • Nicole Miller

      That is such a great point, Tia! :) Thank you so much for mentioning that!

      We measure three different stats from week to week, participants, the number of tweets, and the reach — Our awesome engineer Colin provided us a really great dashboard: and there are many other tools out there that will help count those stats! :)

      I think all of these stats are important; though for us, the quality of conversation is super key, so the reach is a little less important than the other two. :)

      Would love to hear your thoughts and if there are any other stats or steps we could add! :) Thank you again, Tia! :)

      • Tia Kelly

        Ah awesome! Those are actually the exact three numbers I was looking to track. Was it really easy for Colin to set up for you?

        Wondering if I can get someone in-house to whip up something similar for me. All the tools I’ve been looking at are a bit too pricey.

        Thanks Nicole!

        • BrunoWinck

          I can tweet it for you for using @Kneaver. As a benefit you will also have
          the most used terms, a twitter list automatically updated, recaps etc.. It’s the
          service that will come free for all the registered chats.

          First step is
          to make sure your Twitter chat is registered on the Open twitter Chat Directory

  • Stephen Bruington

    Ironically, #bufferchat doesn’t appear on the “huge Google doc spreadsheet.”

  • Monica

    What should I do if my guest host has unfollowed me and is promoting the chat as theirs? I want to block her from the chat and do it myself. How do I do that?

  • Deidre Trudeau

    Do I have to subscribe to Twubs for $99 a mo in
    order to host a live Twitter Chat? Is there a free way to do it?
    I need to know asap so THANK YOU
    Deidre Trudeau

    • Nicole Miller

      Hey there Deidre!

      That’s such a great question! I’ve heard great things about Twubs but it’s definitely not necessary to host a Twitter Chat. You can post (or shedule) questions from your Twitter, Buffer, TweetDeck, Hootsuite account – whatever you prefer! There are many tools that you can use for free to interact with the participants of your chat too – TweetChat, Nurph, etc!

      I hope this helps! Thank you so much for checking out this post!!


  • Beatrice Leung

    I had no idea what Twitter Chat was until I joined my first #BufferChat today! Was very glad to find this article, it helped me gain a better understanding. Thanks, Nicole!