Social Media for SCBWI: Twitter Chat: How to Use Hootsuite & Tweetdeck

What is a Twitter chat? It's when lots of people "talk" live via Twitter, finding each other with a hashtag, at a specific hour– for example, #UKMGchat, #UKYAchat, #kidlitchat, #yalitchat, and so on. Twitter chats are different from normal hashtags, which simply let you connect with other people who use them, but who are not necessarily online when you are. Some useful hashtags for writers are: #FF for Follow Friday, where people suggest other Twitter accounts to follow; #mswl, where agents say what their manuscript wish lists include; #amwriting, which allows you to meet other writers online, #wip (also lots of illustrators), #askagent, #poets, #writers, etc. A longer list is here.

However, if you have tried to follow a live chat on Twitter, you know that it can quickly whiz by, leaving you trying to catch up. 

See where it says "View conversation"? You can find yourself clicking back and forth from one screen to another, trying to see the context of the conversations. 

So many of us were having this problem that Vivienne Dacosta has written this little guide to help us. 

How to Use Hootsuite

A lot of people really struggle to take part in the #UKYA and #UKMG chats. If you are using Twitter, it can be extremely difficult to keep up with the conversation, and you are constantly jumping from one screen to the next. So you really need to use a social media management system such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite (here's a reference to help you decide). Hootsuite is by far my favourite. Im going to run you through some basics to get to up and running on Hootsuite for the social chats that occur on Twitter. 

1) Set up an account on Hootsuite (free version).

Hootsuite is simple to set up and the instructions on the site will guide you through joining. You can normally join by using your Twitter or your Facebook login details. However, it has been a while since I set mine up, so it may have changed slightly.

2)    Once into Hootsuite, your screen should look like this:

If you have this, you are ready to get started in Hootsuite.

3) The first thing you need to do is start adding streams. The first one you want to add is Home. This is the feed you see on Twitter itself already, where all the people you follow will appear.

4) Then you need to add the stream where you are mentioned (with your @name). This will keep you up to date when anyone includes you in a question or stream of conversation.

5) Now that you have the basics set up, you need to add the streams which will allow you to take part in the chats.

By using the Search button on the stream list, you can search for the hashtag chat you are looking for, so that you dont miss any aspect of the conversation.

6) Sometimes chats coincide, so you can have more than one chat going at once.

7) If you have your screen like this (above), with the Home screen to the left of the mentions, then you will be able to take part in the chats. You will see the questions as they appear and you will also be able to answer any questions that you are mentioned in when they appear in the Mentions stream. This is all I use to get me through the chats. You can add and delete these streams whenever you feel like it. I tend to keep mine up permanently so that I can keep a track of when the next chat will be. 

I hope you find this useful. If you find anything unclear, you can contact me via Twitter and I will be more than happy to try and answer your questions. 

Happy #chatting!

Vivienne Dacosta is the editor and owner of Serendipity Reviews,  a book blog steadily on its way to  getting a million hits. Serendipity Reviews was recently listed in The Guardian’s Top Ten YA Book Blogs and also won Champion of Content at the UKYA Awards. When Viv isn’t reading and blogging, she can normally be found editing  her own book. She was recently shortlisted for a New Talent Award for her writing. @Serendipity_Viv


  1. Thanks you so much, Viv. Really useful :-)

  2. I can now use Hootsuite! (As you see!) Thank you so much, Viv. This will make the next chat a lot easier.

  3. By golly! I used Hootsuite a while back then stopped when I downgraded Twitter in my mind as a platform. The rise of #UKMGchat and other kid lit hashtags though had me wondering how to get back on horse. You have given me a leg up. Giddyap! Thank you.

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