Twitter Chats: A Tool for Outreach and Professional Development

first_imgBy Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, [email protected] you using Twitter personally and/or professionally to send or receive information? If so, you are not alone. As of March 2016, 310 million people were active users, 83% on mobile phones. Twitter is a micro-blogging site where users post short messages of up to 140 characters called tweets. A key component of tweets is the hashtag (#) symbol, which enables people to search a topic (e.g., credit) or share an experience (e.g., a professional conference).Similar to a face-to-face focus group, Twitter chats provide a synchronous environment for participants to answer a structured series of questions and respond to both the chat facilitator and each other using their Twitter user names (a.k.a.,”handles“). Chat participants gather at a specified time (e.g., Tuesdays at 3 pm ET) to “discuss” certain topics, questions, or issues. The Twitter chat hashtag connects the tweets for everyone to follow the “conversation.”The formatting convention used for Twitter chats is Q1 for Question 1 and A1 for participant responses. There are more than 300 Twitter chats on a wide variety of topics. There is no cost to run a chat except for a sponsor’s time for preparation, marketing, and evaluation and the (optional) cost of incentives (e.g., gift cards) to attract participants.Want to host a Twitter chat for your clients or students? Include the following steps: select a topic, set a date and time, designate a unique Twitter hashtag, welcome participants and moderate the chat conversation, evaluate the impact and outreach of a Twitter chat using online survey links and/or applications such as and TweetReach, and write impact reports.It is a good idea to have some pre-typed answers to each question in case initial participant responses are slow. Chats generally last one hour and have 8 to 10 questions. Some chat sponsors offer prizes, such as gift cards, as an incentive for people to participate. Three platforms can be used to monitor the flow of tweets in real time: Twubs (, Tweetchat (, or ( Perhaps you’d rather have others handle all the logistics and simply be a Twitter chat participant. Below is a list of popular personal finance Twitter chats that run on a weekly schedule:Wednesday#creditchat is sponsored by credit reporting firm Experian (see @Experian_US and at 12 pm PST every Wednesday (focus on credit and general money management)Thursday#wbchat is run by Wise Bread (see @wisebread and at 12 pm PST every Thursday with prizes drawn at random for those who register (focus on living well on a limited budget) Friday#cashchat is run by Tarra Jackson (a.k.a., Ms. Madam Money) (see @msMadamMoney and at 12 pm ET every Friday (focus on cash flow management, credit, and debt) #mcchat is run by Money Crashers (see @Money Crashers and at 1pm PST every Friday (focus on managing money and savings)Looking for even more Twitter chats? Organizations that organize or participate in personal finance Twitter chats on an occasional basis include the Cooperative Extension System, America Saves, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE).last_img

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