What is a Twitter Chat? It's one hour of your life dedicated to talking with other Twitter users about a certain subject, using a hashtag to bring you all together and on the same page (literally). #bloghour, for instance, is 9pm every Tuesday. Ran by The UK Blog Awards, #bloghour features a series of questions on one aspect of blogging, and is an opportunity for bloggers to air their views on the topic and discuss it with people with the same pastime. Other blog chats of note are #bdib (bloggers do it better, Mondays and Friday nights) #lbloggers (lifestyle bloggers chat on Wednesday and Sunday nights) and #gossipbloggers (fortnightly Sundays. This one doesn't seem to be about blogging at all).
Twitter chats aren't just about blogging. You can probably find a weekly chat about any subject. #Mhchat covers mental health. #Manchesterhour discusses Manchester and is a chance to promote local businesses. There's probably a chat for your town. Tweetreports has a schedule featuring a few different topics covered by various chats. (Some of these are redundant.) Whether these will be happening at a time you're available is something you'd have to check. Remember that the English language-speaking world operates through a few different time zones, so some will be completely unsuitable for your schedule. British ones are usually at times when people living in British time zones are most likely to be free to use the computer- in the evenings.
I've been participating in a few of these for about a year now. I've online-met loads of great people, positive, knowledgeable bloggers who have given me great advice. I've also found that my decade-long experience as a blogger enables me to advise others on the craft of blogging. I'll certainly continue to blog for a long time, but Twitter chats I can feel myself bowing out of. Why?
Time is a major factor. I have goals to attain with my blog, and with my life. I'm trying to improve myself as a writer, and this takes time. It takes practice, and it means reading loads. It also means doing things to write about, experiencing things to carve individuality as a writer. An extra few hours a week dedicated to this, instead of Twitter chats, will get me closer to my goals- being known as a writer and getting paid to write.
I've given up time in these chats to pass on the knowledge I've gained, and as much as people seem to appreciate it in their replies, I see no real-world benefit, for me, from passing on this knowledge- no extra page views, no award nominations, no recognition away from the chats due to that participation. I'm not bitter about this, but if I want to get such things, I need time to dedicate to moving towards said goals.
I've tried to connect to other bloggers involved in these chats. I've followed plenty of these people. Some have followed back. Some still follow me now, others unfollowed. If people unfollow me, I'll unfollow them. (Statusbrew, if you were wondering how.) I haven't gained a great deal of knowledge from these chats, nor have I influenced others. No invitations to events came my way (none that I could practically attend living 240 miles from the capital) and I haven't met any of the contributors in person.
My goals are finding information before the local press and sharing it creatively on my own blog, and getting noticed by potential employers. These ambitions are being hindered by the time I spend chatting online. It's like MySpace a decade ago- the chatrooms, the messages, the bulletins- did anyone actually meet anyone they online-met on MySpace? I know I didn't. We're all older and pretending we're professionals now, yet we're still sat there talking to strangers over the internet. And where is it getting us? It' not got me very far.
You're always welcome to tweet me but I won't sit and talk. I'm too busy.