First, let me say that I am NOT an expert on Twitter parties. I suppose I should be since I attended almost every one possible while we were in China, but alas, some people are slow learners :) I'm going to try to explain what they are and how to "attend" one, but if this post leaves you with questions, please email me and I'll try to answer them!
What is a Twitter party?
A Twitter party is usually "thrown" by a company trying to advertise their product/s via social media. The company will partner with one of the awesome bloggers out there who specializes in hosting Twitter parties, and we get to reap all the benefits :) Each party has a different hashtag that you MUST use to "attend" the party. For example, the Barefoot Momma party I referenced in my last post about Twitter parties was with Hayneedle, so the hashtag was #hayneedle.
How do I take part in or "attend" a Twitter party?
First, you MUST have a Twitter ID. If you don't, go to www.twitter.com and register. It's easy and free :) If you sign up for a new account, let me know what your ID is and I'll find you and become one of your first followers :)
Second, most (though not all) parties require that you RSVP to win prizes, so I suggest you check before attending any parties. They do this not only because they want to know who is going to be there but also because some hosts use random.org to choose winners from the RSVP list. Others choose winners by using a special Twitter random.org to choose random tweets during the party or by having you answer questions and choosing the person who responds 1st, 10th, 15th, etc. There are other ways to choose, but I won't go into every one! Different parties have different rules for winning, so it's best to visit their site and read the details so you know you're registered to win! I include the website address where you need to go to RSVP and/or check out the details in the "where" section of my Twitter Party Calendar. Just click on the party you're interested in, then click "more details", and you should be able to view this section. Note..this sounds more complicated than it is...all you really need to do is follow the rules, RSVP if asked to, and be at the party!
Third, Now you're ready to party! Pay close attention to the date and time of each party. I use EST for the calendar (even though I'm mountain time) so the times are consistent. I suggest showing up a few minutes early, if possible, especially if it's your first party!
Info on Twitter Apps
If you use Tweetchat or Tweetgrid, it makes it easier to attend a party and win (if the winners are chosen based on 1st, 5th, 10th responder). If you'd like to sign up for one of these Twitter apps (they're free too!), go to the site and register before the party.
Tweetchat will ask you to enter the hashtag (you also need to connect to your Twitter), and then it will pull up all of the tweets out there that are using the party hashtag. This is great because you don't have to enter the hashtag in each of your tweets, which saves you time! If you use normal Twitter, you'll have to follow the hosts, keep refreshing if your Twitter freezes (which it likes to do during a party), and then remember to enter the party hashtag in every single tweet. You also won't be able to see what everyone else who is using the hashtag is saying since normal Twitter only shows you tweets from ppl you are following. Tweetgrid is similar, but it will also ask for the hosts Twitter ID so you can see what they tweet in a different window. I prefer Tweetchat, but there are many who use and prefer Tweetgrid. I know there are other apps you can use, but I don't know what they are. If someone out there uses a different one, maybe they can tell us about it in the comment section :)
Here's how to enter the info on Tweetchat to begin a party (after you register):
This is what it will look like during the party. I took a screen shot of the actual Hayneedle party. You will see all the tweets with the party hashtag in this main window, and you'll enter your tweets in the section where it says "Message to #hayneedle (or whatever the party hashtag is), and then hit "update".
That's all there is to it! You'll read others' tweets during the party and answer questions or just chat back (depending on the rules chosen by the hosts). It's fun, you could win cool prizes, and you might make a few new Twitter friends in the process. What's not to like? I promise this really is easier than I may have made it sound in my attempt to help out! Good thing my day job isn't being a professional explainer of things :)
These parties can move VERY quickly, so here are a few tips to help you out!
1) If you're using tweetchat, the second button from the left under the message section says "refresh speed". Change from 10 seconds to 5 seconds so it will update the party tweets faster. This might seem counterproductive because you want it to go slower, but it's actually helpful. You don't HAVE to read every single tweet...in fact, don't even try! If someone sends a tweet to you, it will be highlighted in the window, so you have a better chance of seeing it...
2) Keep a separate window open for normal Twitter and click on your Twitter ID button so it shows only tweets that were aimed at you (using @ and your Twitter ID). Then you'll know if someone was trying to say something to you and you missed it! You might just found out you've won this way :) You don't have to keep checking this window. It's only there in case you need it.
3) Don't panic if you feel lost! Just attend the first few parties for fun, and don't try to figure it all out at once. I'd recommend a random winner party (instead of first, 2nd, fifth, etc. to answer) for newbies because you just have to RSVP and then chat during the party to win. You can take your time answering, and the winners are chosen randomly from those who chatted and who RSVP'd, so you don't have to hurry to try to answer first or second or so on...
So, quick recap...
1) Get a Twitter ID
2) Check the calendar for a party you'd like to attend! Email me for recommendations!
3) RSVP, if necessary
4) Use Tweetchat or Tweetgrid to make it easier
5 Chat away!