What is a Tweetchat? What Tweetchats are there to support researchers and information professionals? How widely used are they? Are they useful? These are some of the questions I’ve tried to answer in this post – although the answer to the final question will be reliant on responses provided by participants of Tweetchats.
Yesterday I came across an email on the LIS-Profession JISCMail list about a Twitter discussion which is taking place tonight (Tuesday 21 August 2012):
*Outreach and Inclusion*
One of the ways that libraries prove their worth is by the amount of users that they have and, for public libraries especially, it’s about serving the community. Outreach, by its very name, is about reaching out and engaging with people, inspiring them to make more use of the library!
If you are interested in sharing your experience with doing outreach work, discussing ways that libraries can be more socially inclusive, or what outreach means for different library sectors, or anything else related to the topic, do join us!
Everyone is welcome to add their questions to the open discussion agenda: [link]
If you have any questions just e-mail us, or contact us on Twitter @uklibchat
The message which alerted me to the #uklibchat was quite timely as on Sunday I came across an interesting discussion using the #ECRchat Twitter hashhag. As a number of people I follow on Twitter were participating in the discussion I was able to learnt that #ECRChat is a discussion environment for Early Career Researchers. Looking at the #ECRChat Web site I found that this provides a weekly topic for discussion with the topic for Thursday 23 August currently being voted on, with the four topics being Social media use for ECRs: (1) pros and cons, and different types for different purposes; (2) Defining success outside of the traditional academic path; (3) Coping with and getting out of the fixed-term contract trap and (4) Getting recognition for work outside of research.
The group was established on 15 July 2012 with the aim of “providing a global weekly discussion for the early career researcher community via Twitter“.
#PhDChat provides another Twitter hashtag which I encounter occasionally on my Twitter stream. From the #PhDChat Web site I learnt that:
In November 2010, a group of UK based research students began to meet together on Wednesday evenings for an hour using the medium of Twitter in order to share their experiences of the doctoral journey. News of the gatherings quickly spread, and the discussions began to encompass postgraduate researchers from around the globe together with a number of people who have completed their doctoral journeys and a number of academics who are involved in supporting postgraduate research.
Unlike the #uklibchat and #ECRChat Web sites, which use WordPress.com, this Web site uses the PBWorks Wiki tool. The Wiki provides information about the discussion environment, links to archives of previously discussed topics, links to other useful resources and pages which are in preparation.
I came across #Socialchat last night as one person I follow on twitter regularly participates in the discussions. Unusually, perhaps, #Socialchat has a Facebook presence from which I learnt that “#SocialChat http://twebevent.com/socialchat is a weekly TwitterChat on Mondays“.
The Facebook page provides a link to the Socialparle Web site which describes how “#SocialChat is a weekly Twitter Chat where we discuss a variety of topics surrounding Social Media Marketing. Every Monday night we put a featured guest on the hot seat and you get to ask questions and contribute to the conversation“. The Web site provides a link to archives of the discussions which date back to February 2011. Looking at the archive of the discussions on the topic of Social Media ROI which took place on 1 August 2011 it seems that Storify is used to record the discussions.
Although I was aware of Tweetchats though the tweets with various hashtags on my stream I wasn’t aware of how popular they were. Looking at the Tweetchat Wiki with List of Tweetchats I found the following useful definition of a Tweetchat:
Tweetchats are virtual meetings held on Twitter. They are typically gatherings of Tweeps who share similar interests. Tweetchats often meet at set days and times during the week. They are identified by a hashtag – a word prepended with a pound sign (#). The pound sign makes it easy to identify the tweetchat members as well as the tweets belonging to the particular chat.
You can participate in a Tweetchat using your favourite Twitter client for posting, using the appropriate hashtag and search for tweets with the hashtag to see others’ contributions. Alternatively you can use a dedicated service such as TweetChat (illustrated being used with #ECRchat).
Another relevant service is Hashtracking.com. As illustrated this service provides analytics for Tweetchats. The statistics for the services mentioned in this post summarised below (statistics collated at 08.20 on Tuesday 21 August 2012).
- Analysis of ECRChat: 67 tweets generated 48,941 impressions, reaching an audience of 30,338 followers within the past 24 hours
- Analysis of PhDChat: 279 tweets generated 197,757 impressions, reaching an audience of 101,756 followers within the past 24 hours
- Analysis of UKLibchat: 7 tweets generated 4,335 impressions, reaching an audience of 1,531 followers within the past 24 hours
- Analysis of Socialchat: 544 tweets generated 4,517,020 impressions, reaching an audience of 1,350,605 followers within the past 24 hours (illustrated)
Sunday’s #ECRChat discussion moved into discussions about non-users of social media in a research context following the link to a post which asked Who are the offline-academics? The subsequent discussions used the #offlineac tag and Lou Woodley has helpfully provided a Storify summary of the discussions. I suggested that it would be useful to have a better understanding of the benefits which online academics, for example, gain from use of social media in order to develop a model of the different reasons for participation. Rather than a broad areas (such as blogging or Twitter) it seemed to me to be useful to understand how a particular aspect of a social media tool is being used and to hear about the benefits which this may provide. Tweetchats, I felt, could provide a useful focus for such analysis.
The following survey has been created. I welcome your participation. A summary of the responses will be provided on this blog.
A survey was open from 21 August to 4 September 2012. The survey asked the following questions:
- Have you participated in a Tweetchat?
- Please give the name(s) of the Tweetchats.
- What benefits do you feel Tweetchats have provided, if any?
- ‘Why have you not participated in a Tweetchat?
- Would you recommend participation in a Tweetchat to others?
- Feel free to add other relevant comments.
- The findings have been published on this blog.
- Your contact details (e.g. twitter ID or email) if you would like a reply.
A summary of the findings was published on 4 September 2012.
Twitter conversation via Topsy: [View]