Organized by @SurvivorJane (www.survivorjane.com), these Twitter chats are loosely scheduled to run nightly from 6 PM to midnight (Eastern). However, there's typically a regular flow of conversation on the #PrepperTalk hashtag throughout the day.
If you're not familiar with how PrepperTalk chats work, you can find a great introduction to them in this video by Joshua Robbs, aka @GotPrep (www.gotprep.com):
So, now that you have a grasp on what the PrepperTalk (aka PT) chats are, here are some tips on getting the most out of them.
- Seeing all PT tweets: You can follow along by simply searching on Twitter for the #PrepperTalk hashtag. However, Twitter will default to only displaying the "top" tweets. To make sense of things, you need to see all the tweets. To do so, find the Tweets: Top setting beneath the "Results for #PrepperTalk" heading. Click on Top and then select All from the resulting drop-down menu. You should now see everyone's PT tweets. You may also want to consider using an application like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, which allow you to follow along with the PT search as a separate stream of tweets.
- Lurking is okay: It's okay to just watch for a while. "Lurking" like this can be good at first, because it enables you to get a feel for how PT works, what the lingo and topics are, and so on. (Incidentally, a good source for definitions of most of the common PT terms and acronyms is the SurvivalBlog.com Glossary of Terms.)
- Be considerate to your followers: Remember that your followers will see all of your PT tweets, and likely only that one part of the conversation. An increased amount of your tweets, especially if they're only one side of a conversation, may be annoying to some. As such,you might want to let your followers know that you're planning to participate, whenever you anticipate joining in.
- @HideChat: A helpful trick to help reduce the amount of PT tweets your followers see is to type @HideChat at the start of your tweet. Doing so will limit the visibility of the tweet to only those other Twitter IDs named in the tweet. However, the tweet will still show up in any related searches (e.g., when anyone searches on #PrepperTalk). Note that case doesn't matter, but @hidechat must be the very first characters in your tweet. Here's an example:
- Ask questions: Remember, there are no stupid questions! We can all learn something from the PT discussions, and everyone has something to share. If you ask a question outside the "evening" chat hours and don't get an answer, you may want to try it again during the "scheduled" PT times.
- Retweet in moderation: Retweeting others' posts is great for passing along information to your followers, or to affirm your agreement with the tweet's original author. Just remember that it's more helpful to contribute some of your own ideas to the conversation, rather than just retweeting others'.
- Prove it: Use links in your tweets to substantiate your facts. Whenever you share some info about something or a fact, it's a good idea to include a link to support your point. Use a URL shortening service (like bit.ly or TinyURL) to shorten the long URLs and allow them to fit within the 140-character limit of Twitter.
- Ideas spanning multiple tweets: If you have to break up your thought into multiple tweets, it's helpful to use some kind of connecting notation. Common examples are to use (cont) or "..." at the end of your tweet to signal that it continues in your next tweet.
- Mention the subject of your tweet: If you're responding to someone's question or comment, it's best to quote part of their tweet, or include some kind of subject so that people know to what you're referring.
- New PT tweeters: After you've been participating for a while, you'll start to recognize number of "regulars" on PT. As the chat grows, you'll notice new names too. When new people show up, please acknowledge them and help them to join in the conversation. Growing the discussion leads to more sharing of knowledge and experience, which helps everyone. Remember: None of us is as smart as all of us.
- Follow your PT contacts: Remember to follow those PT who you have a good chat(s) with. You can then keep up with others more readily, helping you build better online relationships.
- Share the wealth: Spread the word about PT to your Twitter followers... it might get them interested in at least listening in, and hopefully it will get them into prepping.
Some Pitfalls to Avoid
- Market your offerings selectively: If you run a preparedness-related business, consider the balance of your "business" to "non-business" tweets. Tweets about products, services, and information related to preparedness may be welcomed by some, but may aggravate others too. A good way to offset this is to actually participate in the discussions, rather than only posting "sales" tweets. What's more, make the ratio of non-sales to sales tweets pretty high — aim for 10 to 12 non-sales tweets (or more!) for each advertising tweet.
- Avoid politics and religion: These topics can be hard to avoid, since they often play a central role in each person's reasons for prepping. Still, it's generally preferred that PT tweets focus only on potential threats or emergencies and what can be done (or you are doing) to mitigate their effects. A good example is the ongoing "Occupy" protests. After following a few PrepperTalk people, you'll likely find both pro and con opinions on those protests. As such, it's best to focus on how to avoid/survive any potential civil unrest that could result from the protests, rather than debating the politics for or against them.
- Know when to take a breather. Participate much on PT, and it's almost inevitable that you'll disagree with someone. It's all too easy to start going back and forth in an intense exchange of tweets. Especially with polarizing topics (like those mentioned above), this can be off-putting for the other PrepperTalkers. If you find yourself in such a conflict, it's helpful to take a break. You might want to drop into "lurk" mode for a bit, or even step away from your computer for a short while.