Tweet Chats 101: What They Are and Why You Should Participate

Every Friday from 10 to 11 a.m. west coast time, my Twitter feed lights up with Tweets referencing #hcmktg, signaling to me that the weekly healthcare social media marketing Tweet chat has started.

If you haven’t heard of a Tweet chat, it’s a lot like a chat room within Twitter. Tweet chats use a pre-determined hashtag to engage a group of people in a real-time conversation at a specified time. To participate in the chat, all you have to do is create a new column in your TweetDeck, Hootsuite or other feature like TweetChat, and track the specific hashtag. Then, when you want to participate, all you have to do is Tweet using that hashtag and anyone else participating in that chat can read and respond to your Tweet.

It is important to know that a Twitter chat is different than simply using a hashtag to label one of your Tweets. It is real time. For example, if you choose to add the hashtag #hcmktg to one of your Tweets on a Tuesday morning, it will not show up in the Tweet chat on Friday.

In the healthcare world, Tweet chats are beneficial for a few reasons. First, you will almost always find new people, organizations or businesses in the healthcare field to follow. As a hospital already tuned in to the healthcare Twittersphere, it’s incredibly useful to see what other hospitals or healthcare providers are Tweeting about, and it may inspire you.

It also gives you the chance to join in on discussions related to healthcare, which leads me to the second reason Tweet chats are beneficial: you will learn something you didn’t know before. For example, if you join a Tweet chat devoted to healthcare social media, like the #hcmktg I listed above, you have the opportunity to learn ways you can engage your patients through social media. It’s a great way to get ideas from those who are practicing them, and to also ask any questions you may have. This is particularly useful if your hospital is new to Twitter, and you will no doubt leave with some great ideas.

The third reason a Tweet chat is beneficial is that you will often gain new followers. A Tweet chat is a great place to answer any questions other healthcare providers may have, thus demonstrating your value and expertise in the social media world. If you participate in a particular chat each week, you will also create relationships with others in that field, thus strengthening your social media presence.

Of course there are other benefits of a Tweet chat, but this is a general list and in order to find out what other benefits there are, I suggest you join one to see what it’s all about.

To find a Tweet chat to participate in, visit the FoxEPractice website. They have a list of all of the scheduled healthcare-related Tweet chats, such as #hcsm for healthcare communication and social media; #cancerchat for cancer patients, survivors and cancer centers; and #rdchat, which is devoted to diet and nutrition. They even have a calendar with the Tweet chats listed, along with the time zones so you can determine what time each chat will take place in your area.

If you are unsure of what to say when participating in a Tweet chat, I suggest listening in on your first few chats to get an idea of the conversations and ideas that take place in a Tweet chat. Then, once you are comfortable, you can start contributing.

Happy chatting!


How we help

Hive Strategies helps hospitals engage patients through social media. We don’t manage social media. Instead, we help hospitals develop an effective social media strategy and mentor them through the implementation process. Read about our services. Start a conversation. Email us or call us at 503-472-5512.

2 replies
  1. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    Hi Kelly,

    I recently completed a communications certification and I’m very interested in working in health communications. From what I’ve heard, it can be hard to convince people in healthcare/health related non-profits that the participation in social media is important. But as I learned training delegates at the international community health centre conference on social media, many are becoming curious in the opportunities for getting the word out.

    I think this is a great introduction to the basics and importance of Twitter for health organizations.

    I’m going to tune into this chat!



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