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The next big thing on Twitter: #TwitterChats

Brandon Butler | April 1, 2013
Atul Jha likes to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest in the tech world; after all, that's part of his job as a consultant and technology evangelist for CSS Corp., which is co-headquartered in Silicon Valley and India.

That's perhaps the most common complaint about Twitter and Twitter chats -- it's just hard to have a conversation in 140 characters. Twitter power users find ways around this. For one, organizers of Twitter chats, like Needles and her colleagues at CA Technologies, try to ask concise questions that are yes/no or agree/disagree. Still, sometimes it just takes more than 140 characters to answer a question. Shorthand and abbreviations help, but users can also post multiple updates in a row, and indicate they are part of a stream of thoughts, by using parenthesis. Tweet (1/2), for example, and then (2/2).

Others don't like Twitter chats because they can clog up their Twitter stream. Such is the case, organizers say. If you don't like the Twitter chat, you don't have to participate. Organizers say there is more good than annoyance that comes from Twitter and Twitter Chats, though. For those still opposed to Twitter, there are other platforms as well, such as Google+ hangouts, which are video conversations.

Not replacing marketing, but supplementing

CA Technologies has jumped all-in on the Twitter bandwagon. The company has about 50 branded Twitter accounts managed by its communications team, with goals of encouraging audience development, engaging with users and thought leaders, and creating demand generation. Beyond the Twitter Chats -- which the company has plans to expand beyond just the #CloudViews conversation in the coming weeks -- individual workers at CA are encouraged to use the platform as well. Sales representatives use it to research potential clients to "do their homework" to see what users have on the top of their mind before a call; marketing folks use it to comb popular hashtags to influence product marketing language.

But the real million-dollar question is: Is it worth it? Needles says for the most part, it's a fairly low-risk but potentially high-reward proposition. It doesn't cost a lot of time or money to host a Twitter chat, so it's basically a no-lose situation. The worst that can happen is nobody participates, then so what? Needles says it does take time and energy to get good at it; generally, the more time and effort put into it, the more users will get out of it.


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