How to Get Comfortable on Tweetchats

BCSMI’m writing this post in response to a plea for Twitter mentors from Jody Schoger, one of the moderators of the Breast Cancer Social Media (#bcsm) tweetchat. It takes place every Monday night at 9 p.m. Eastern time and has rapidly become one of the most popular tweetchats out there. Jody said there are quite a few lurkers out there who need some help getting started.

The first thing you should know is it’s common to feel intimidated by tweetchats and Twitter in general when you’re first getting started. I remember how scared I was the first time I attempted to join a conversation on Twitter. It’s like walking into a giant cocktail party where you don’t know anyone. I also remember how thrilled I was the first time someone I didn’t know started following me on Twitter. He’s a doctor who since deleted his account (at least that one–he could still be out there somewhere), but I will always remember how he made me feel welcome and would explain things like what YW means (you’re welcome). I gradually become comfortable out there and you will too.

The other thing you should know is that #bcsm is one of the fastest-paced chats out there. So if you’re thinking, Wow, I can’t keep up!, it’s not just you. I followed along with another popular healthcare tweetchat one night and it was positively sedate by comparison. #bcsm is definitely like drinking from a fire hose.

There are a couple of things you can do to keep up. One way is to use tweetchat. You can sign in with your Twitter account and it will scroll all the #bcsm tweets. You can set the refresh speed and you don’t have to enter the #bcsm hashtag with your tweet. Another way is to use tweetdeck and create a #bcsm column where only those tweets will show up. I typically use both because sometimes one or the other will cough up a hairball.

That’s the technology side if it, but how do you get over feeling shy? Start slow. Introduce yourself at the beginning of the chat. Mention why you’re here. If you’re feeling shy because it’s your first time on the forum, feel free to say that. If someone makes a comment you love, say so. !f you have a question, ask. If someone says something that reminds you of your own experience, share it. If you don’t agree, that’s okay too, just remember to be respectful. It’s a conversation just like the conversations you have offline (aside from the fire hose aspects).bcsm-team_0

Finally, remember, you are talking to people, like #bcsm’s moderators and hosts: From left, Dr. Deanna Attai (@DrAttai), a breast surgeon who helps #bcsm and the public at large make sense of technical medical issues and is a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. In the middle is three-time cancer survivor and moderator Alicia Staley (@stales), and on the right is writer/survivor/moderator Jody Schoger (@jodyms). They are three of the most welcoming people you could ever hope to chat with.

The topic varies every week and ranges from dealing with mets to what cancer does to relationships, to the “open mike night” scheduled for this coming Monday, March 18th. Please feel free to join in.

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32 thoughts on “How to Get Comfortable on Tweetchats

  1. So very helpful, Jackie. I think all of us had the same questions & what do I do next kind of feelings when we started. A couple of years before #BCSM started, I “attended” another Tweet chat that made absolutely no sense & frustrated me beyond all measure. For a long time, I vowed I’d never do one of those, again, but since so many of us in the breast cancer community already were talking to one another on Twitter, it made the whole thing less intimidating.

    • Thanks, Brenda! I agree that #bcsm was more comfortable for those of us who had already gotten to know each other online. Also agree that tweetchats can make zero sense without practice or guidance.

  2. I joined Twitter a while back mostly so I could take part in this very chat! I’m so glad I did. Great post, Jackie. Thanks for the tips.

  3. I have a silly question. Can you join the tweet chat from your computer or can you only do it on your phone? I am not tech-savvy, and am not on Twitter, and only got my first smart phone this past Christmas! I don’t really even understand the feeds and the following aspect. Thanks for the tips!

  4. EXCELLENT, Jackie! RENN….. I hope you get yourself a twitter account and use tweetchat Jackie provided. Even if you just watch the thing fly, it’s a great way to stay connected.

  5. Love this, Jackie! Great job presenting the information. Maybe it can be tweeted at the beginning of every chat and posted on the #BCSM Facebook page. xx

  6. Very nicely explained, Jackie. I’ve tried to follow #bcsm a few times but it is very, very fast. However, it’s wonderful to see all the people joining in, and I really like following the #bcsm hashtag when chats aren’t in session, because excellent conversation still happens. (And I can follow it a bit more easily!) Great post! ~Catherine

  7. Jackie,
    Thanks for posting this. I actually finished a blog post this weekend that I didn’t post about how I’m not feeling the ‘virtual’ love and support. One of my frustrations is with #BCSM because I feel like the wallflower at a middle school dance/unpopular kid at lunch when I have participated. After the initial couple of chats I participated in in November that I enjoyed, I started to feel less and less a part of something and more of an outsider. I have found myself busy with other things the past couple of Monday nights and didn’t even read the transcript from last week. I, too, joined Twitter just so I could participate in Monday night BCSM tweetchats and have learned soooooo much. But….
    I will put my big girl pants on tonight and participate–thanks to this post.
    JoAnn

    • Thank you, JoAnn! I really appreciate your comment. I think it may have gotten easier to feel like a wallflower the more fast and furious #bcsm has become because more tweets get missed, but I’m glad you are not giving up. I find that I miss more tweets and sometimes end up responding to people after it’s over or even the next day. And yes, you can tell the people who’ve been talking to each other for a long time and there may be some inside jokes but they (we) are a pretty inclusive bunch.

  8. Jackie – thanks so much – I shared this with our Facebook friends and hope more take part in the fun/informative/passionate #BCSM Twitter chat. It occurred to me last night that a cheat sheet of acronyms/abbreviations might also be useful, ie. NED, Dx, Sx, Tx, METS, and so many more. It can be a little “Greek” for newbies.

  9. GREAT post, Jackie! Thank you! Your wisdom is valuable to anyone entering the world of TweetChat.

    To those who are still seeking access to the #bcsm chat I would say two things…

    1. It STILL goes to fast for me! I count on the most insightful and important points will rise to the too through retweets.

    2. Because of the speed I know there are some people who I fail to greet, or whose comments are overlooked. I will be redoubling my efforts to reaching out. I truly want newcomers to feel welcome!!

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  11. This is a great post, Jackie, on such a great tweetchat. I’ve been participating since its inception, and the co-moderators do a great job. I know what you mean about it being one of the fastest-paced chats out there. I’ve participated in other chats, and I’ve had time to get myself something to eat and just to stretch my fingers. Not the case with #BCSM. I hope the lurkers won’t be intimidated any longer just by reading your post.

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