We have been running #MKBibleChat for over 3 months now and currently average 25+ chatters actively participating each chat and countless others who follow but rarely comment.
I was just randomly thinking about why our chat has moved forward and "succeeded" and thought I would jot my thoughts in the form of a short blog.
In good sermonic fashion, I organized the "keys" into 4 points, all starting with 'P'. Here they are:
3. Probing Questions
1. Promote: seems simple but most who try to get a chat going simply don't get it. It takes a LOT of consistent tweeting and retweeting to get the word out. Every hour or two a quick tweet letting people know when the chat is and what it is about.
2. Personality: you have to have one. People are drawn to someone who makes an effort to be interesting, different, humorous, insightful. In other words it does take some effort to make your tweets interesting to others. What I call "broadcast tweeting" will not cut it.
3. Probing Questions: boring standard questions on the chat won't work. It takes some thought, and work. Learn to ask good questions through reading up on the subject. Sales training books are an excellent resource. This is a learnable art, but it doesn't just come naturally.
4. Perseverance: hang in there. It won't happen overnight. We started with only 3 or 4 chatters and it didn't grow to over 10 per chat for more than a month. Many times we would go backwards--less chatters or a weak night due to a poor choice on my part of subject. Don't be discouraged; learn, correct mistakes and keep promoting.
Let me revisit one very important point: questions. Pontificating, broadcast tweeting, or making statements and using a chat to "teach" your point of view generally won't work, unless you are Rick Warren and John Piper and people hang on your every word.
A chat is a discussion and holds interest because of the discussion. I have seen chats start and generate interest, peaking at 10-15 chatters, and then drop to 2 or 3 friends, usually because the leaders makes statements and doesn't know how to ask questions and lead a discussion.
So those are the four keys; I would add (but can't think of a 'P' word) be interested in your audience. Off chat follow up with people and realize and practice "it's not about you". Especially for those running Christian chats the goal has to be to serve. Serving involves learning about other's lives, interacting and praying for them.
So that's about it. Not very deep; just common sense. Hope it helps. Chat on!