Wednesday, April 28, 2010

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Dummies Guide to Twitter Parties

Many of you attended (or tried to attend) the Get Real Diapers party on Twitter last week. If this was your first experience on Twitter you might be a little intimidated. With over 1700 tweets in one hour from over 250 different people even I was a little lost at times. Here are some tips to help make your next Twitter party a little easier to follow.

1. How do I sign up for an account on Twitter? If you don’t already have a Twitter account you will need to set up an account. Visit www.Twitter.com and select Sign Up Now to create your very own account. You will need to select a Username, this can be your real name or a nickname of sorts. For instance my Twitter Username (or handle) is EcoMomMedia. Follow the directions on the screen and then select Create My Account. You are good to go! Of course if you want to get really creative you can customize your account with a picture and a background.

2. Who do I follow? If you want to join a Twitter party you will want to be sure to follow all of the party hosts and sponsors. There are several ways you can find the party hosts and sponsors on Twitter. If you are joining an Eco Mom Media party I have links on the party page that will take you directly to the hosts and sponsors. Another way is to search for them under Find People on Twitter. Once you have logged into your account select Find People and then enter @EcoMomMedia (or their Username). The @ sign will help you find a specific person if you know their Twitter Username. You can also search for them by name or email address. Once you find the person you want to follow you select Follow (it’s the person icon with a plus sign). Be sure to follow all of the party hosts and sponsors so you can see their tweets (or messages). You can follow people before the party begins to be sure you receive any party updates and to receive notifications of upcoming events. In addition, by following other party attendees you can network with a great group of people who share a same passion.

3. Do I have to pre-register? Most parties will encourage you to pre-register for the event. For Eco Mom Media Twitter parties there will almost always be extra prizes or incentives for pre-registering. While you don’t have to register to attend the party and learn about the topic; that is the list I normally use to draw the winners.

4. How do I follow 1700 tweets in an hour? Well that’s not even easy for the hosts and sponsors to do. Most people use some external sites to follow the party. Sites such as www.TweetGrid.com and www.TweetDeck.com will make it easier to follow the chatterings of the event. My personal favorite is TweetGrid; I prefer TweetDeck if I’m following on my iPhone. For TweetGrid you can create a unique party grid by entering the party #Hashtag, party hosts, and your username. A #hashtag is specific to the party or event topic. For instance, if you are joining the Diaper Shops twitter party the #hashtag would be #DiaperShops. After you enter all of the information and select Join Party a tweet grid will appear. To tweet you enter your username and password at the top (under the message or tweet) and begin tweeting. It’s very important to remember to use the #hashtag because the sponsors and hosts will only be looking for messages that include that tag during the party.

5. What can I say in a tweet? A tweet is limited to 140 characters so your messages will need to be brief. You can follow the number of characters you have in red after the tweet box. Watch the hosts of the party to determine the format for the party. Some parties are open while others are more structured. Structured parties will have one person (or a few people) tweeting questions for party goers to answer. Open parties are more like an open chat room with people asking different questions. Feel free to jump in regardless of the format with your questions.

6. Have an important question you would like to ask the hosts or sponsors? There are two ways you can get their attention. First, you can include their @UserName in your tweet. If you talk directly to a person they are more apt to respond and not miss your question in the sea of tweets. Another way is to send them a Direct Message (DM). A direct message is private and only that user can see your message. Host may not check their DMs during the party.

7. How do I win prizes? Most party hosts will announce how they are announcing/selecting/notifying winners. Some parties will draw random names by all active party tweets, some will draw names from the RSVP list, and others may require you to answer a question. Be sure to provide a valid @UserName when you register along with a valid email address. Hosts will attempt to contact you for a limited period of time (sometimes hours or days) before they select an alternate winner. You can see if someone has talked directly to you by checking your @UserName mentions (under Home on the sidebar) on your Twitter page. By clicking Direct Messages you can see if anyone sent you a message.

8. Reply! When a party host asks a question you can reply directly to that host by selecting reply next to their message. Or you can reply to other guests if you like what they have to say.

9. Retweet! Did someone say something that was valuable? You can retweet (RT) their message so that all of your followers can see the information. This is a great way to get your friends to join in the party with you.

10. When problems happen. Sometimes technology doesn’t cooperate with us. Sometimes TweetGrid will be acting slow and updates will be delayed. Sometimes Twitter will be at capacity and knock you off. Sometimes (if you are extra chatty) you can be put into Twitter jail. If you happen to experience difficulties while using Twitter or any of the external sites try to reply directly to the host/sponsor or reach out to a new Twitter friend for help. Other party quests may be able to respond more quickly than the host. Join the party a little early and play around.
Use the party #hashtag, practice sending replies, retweets, and direct messages.

Have fun! Your first party might be a little overwhelming but I promise it will get easier. Some parties move very quickly and you might miss something. Speak up, and someone will help you along the way. If for some reason you can’t figure it all out, most party hosts publish a transcript of their parties so you can go back and read it. Finally, if you have an important question that was unanswered…just email the host or sponsor directly.

Contributed by Calley of Eco Mom Media

11 comments:

Christina said...

This made me smile! Although I have an account, when I saw "Twitter Party" I pretty much thought, "Yeah, I won't be able to handle that." Thanks for the tips, they're really helpful!

Amy Matthews said...

Thanks!

Mom of FIVE said...

THANKS! I am a complete loss at Twitter. I tried it once and became a Twitter Quitter. I will have to try one more time. Thanks again!

K8tmama said...

Thank you so much for this post! I was very lost and overwhelmed @ the last twitter party!

anamlgrl said...

thanks for that.... I was having a heck of a time trying to figure out what was going on at the last one (that was my first!).

Liz said...

ok, obviously I am a complete idiot! I have been part of the cloth diaper chat on Mondays but have not been to a twitter party. I am trying to rsvp but I have to have a website link to register? I am really confused...I thought I just had to enter my @twittername? TIA!

Dianna@KennedyAdventures said...

Thanks for explaining this! I felt like a Twitter party dork ... maybe next time, I will be a bit more comfortable!

fancygrlnancy said...

Twitter parties are a bit overwhelming, but fun to attend... The last cloth diaper one went so fast and I couldn't keep up with prizes. When no true prize questions are asked then you can just chat along with others. Thanks so much for all the great info.. can't wait until tomorrow's party.

Krista Marie said...

Thanks for the info! I have never done a twitter party because I was so intimidated. I might have to join one now!

Tanyetta said...

Thank you

kkyc816 said...

great post! not only helps with twitter parties but with twitter in general. answered many of my questions =)