Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Let's Chat- A 2019 Guide to Tweet Chats

In 2013,  I wrote a two-part series called A Guide to Twitter and Tweetchat Part I   and Now Let's Chat - A Guide to Twitter and Tweet Chat Part II. I recently updated Part I ( A 2019 Guide to Twitter) and thought it would be beneficial to others if I updated the post on how to chat as well. As moderator of the #gyncsm chat I have used #gyncsm as the chat example.

What is a Tweetchat?
A Tweetchat is a virtual gathering of people discussing a particular subject. Using a unique hashtag helps identify the tweets that belong to the discussion. If you join the #gyncsm community for one of their chats ( 2nd Wed of the month at 9pm ET) you will add the hashtag #gyncsm to each tweet. The conversation happens in real time and can take place at a fast pace.
The first time I joined the #BCSM (breast cancer social media) chat back in 2013, I searched for #bscm on twitter and followed along. I wrote some tweets but I forgot to use the hashtag twice and had to type in the tweets again with #bcsm . It was a bit of a challenge remembering and following along with the questions and comments. You can continue to join a chat by searching for  a hashtag ( such as #gyncsm) in the Twitter search box which brings you to the #gyncsm page . If you hit latest in the menu on the top of the page , your screen will show you the stream of tweets that include #gyncsm at that time. It will update as new tweets are posted using that hashtag.

Tweet Chat Tools
Since the #gyncsm chat began in 2013 I have had a chance to not only research tools which make it easier to participate in chats but have been able to test them out under real-life Chat conditions.The sites automatically add the hashtag to each tweet you write. In no particular order here are a few that will make participating in a chat easier.
 TweetChat (
All you  have to do is go to the site, sign in with your Twitter account and enter #gyncsm in the “Enter a hashtag to start” box. When the page opens you will see a box at the top of the page where you enter your tweet. The #gyncsm hashtag is automatically added to your tweet.

Below this box you will see all the tweets in the chat room. You can set the rate at which the chat window refreshes, stop and start the stream and change the "room" settings. Of course you can also Tweet, reply to, retweet and like a Tweet all from one page. ( .

Once you sign in with your Twitter account and enter #gyncsm in the box next to "start Chatting" the chat page will look similar to the Tweeetchat page. A box on top of the page allows you to enter text to tweet and automatically adds the hashtag. You can hide retweets and pause the stream too.

 Below this box will be all the recent tweets which you can reply to, retweet, quote and like a Tweet.

TweetDeck (

As a moderator, TweetDeck is one of my favorite to use. Once you sign in you will be able to set up columns of information - Home, User, Notifications, Message, Followers etc.  I set mine up to show #gyncsm, my stream, my notifications, followers and messages. During a chat I usually have my New Tweet column open all the time.

When you want to use TweetDeck for a chat you can add a column ( look for the + on the left ) and choose search. In the search box on the top type in #gyncsm. (This is the column to the right of the New Tweet column in the photo above.) When you hit reply in a Tweet that tweet will appear in the blue column and you can reply below it. When you hit retweet a new window opens and you can simply retweet to your followers or click on retweet with comment. This allows you to add text. If you start a new text you will have to add the hashtag being used during the chat (#gyncsm ). I like the ability to easily add a photo to the tweet as well as schedule a tweet.

I recommend that you don’t wait till the night of the chat to sign up for these tools but test them out a day or two ahead of time. Even if the hashtag stream is not busy you can still try out different aspects of the site.

So what happens on a #gyncsm chat night?
The #gyncsm chat takes place on the second Wednesday of the month at 9pm EST. Our first chat occurred on September 11, 2013. A few minutes before the 9pm EST start time sign in to Tweetchat or the site you prefer. You will see that some of us have already tweeted using the hashtag to remind our followers to join us. The #gyncsm hashtag and other cancer communities like #bcsm, #lcsm are used all the time not just during chat time to share information of interest to our respective communities. 

The  #gyncsm Chat Format
Introductions  (9:00-9:10 pm EST)
All moderators will introduce themselves. We will then ask those who feel comfortable doing so to introduce themselves. Don’t worry if you feel like just “eavesdropping” on the conversation that is OK. You can always tweet us (@gyncsm)  or tweet a simple " statement such as "#gyncsm I'm listening"or e-mail us ( with questions/comments after the chat is over.

Questions/ Discussion (9:11- 9:49pm ET) 
Each chat will have a specific discussion topic.  The moderators and our guests will be prepared to share links that relate to our night’s topic. The discussion will revolve around 4-5  questions regarding the night’s topic. As we post each topic /question everyone is invited to comment. We ask that you be sure to use T1,T2, T3... in your reply so that we know which question  you are responding to. When we have special guests (authors, advocates, researchers or social workers) join us for a chat the format may be modified for those occasions. During many chats we ask participants to please  refrain from asking questions about your own personal health issues.  Rather jot those questions down and call or speak to your doctor at your next visit. 

Summary /Closing Remarks (9:50- 10:00pm)
During this time we will ask you to share what you learned by using TIL- "Today I Learned "in the tweet. We will also remind you of the date, time and topic of our next chat. 

Chat Tips
Here are some things to keep in mind if you are new to chats:
  • You may use 280 characters per tweet.
  • The pace may be quick at times with participants commenting but please don’t be discouraged. You can scroll back in the conversation to catch up. For most health related chats transcripts are available on the communities website ( for gyncsm) or on the Symplur website. ( 
  •  Please try to stay on topic. Side conversations are distracting and will make a crowded discussion more difficult to follow.
  • Try to keep retweets to a minimum so that the discussion can flow smoothly. 
  • The chat is not the place to promote your project / book / event/ fundraiser. We know you are all doing wonderful things please feel free to share with all after the chat is completed.
  • Be mindful that although we may all be dealing with a gynecologic cancer,  the experiences we have may not be  the same.  Please do not criticize another person's treatment decision.

We hope you will let us and other chat moderators know if there is anything we can do to make our chat's better.

A special thank you to the ladies of #bcsm for being a model of  how a successful chat is run.


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