What are TweetChats and how to participate in #CRCTrialsChat

What’s a TweetChat or Twitter chat?

Twitter chats or tweet chats are scheduled, recurring public conversations on Twitter usually hosted by the same accounts. They can be monthly or weekly, but they usually always happen at the same time. Each chat has its own hashtag (#) and often features a single broad topic. For example #CRCTrialsChat features discussion related to colorectal cancer clinical trials. Then, when the chat day comes around, a specific sub-topic is chosen. For example, the 1st #CRCTrialsChat session April 14th is focused on introducing clinical trials to the audience.

Tweet chats range from half an hour to an hour long. Questions are usually prepped ahead of time and can be anywhere from 5 questions to 15, depending on how detailed they are. When formatting the questions, the host will begin each Tweet with “Q1” or “Q2” and so on and participants will answer with the corresponding number, like “A1, A2”.. etc. Hashtags are used in every question and answer tweet so all participants can keep an eye on the conversation. For #CRCTrialsChat, all tweet questions will contain this hashtag and the participants will be reminded to use the hashtag in their replies.

Just like a live, in-person discussion, chats begin with introductions and end with conclusions or take-aways. People like to interact with each other, make new Twitter friends and continue into conversation tangents.

How do I participate in a TweetChat?

Here is a 2017 video from YouTube that explains tweet chats and how to participate in them.

  • You will need to create a Twitter profile. You will need a login—it could be your name, your pet’s name, random words—whatever you want. You will need to create a password and have an email and phone number associated with this account. 
  • Search for @CRCTrialsChat and follow this account. I will be counting down to the tweetchat in the next few days, so you will get periodic reminder tweets if you follow this account. If you are interested, you can follow my personal account (@manjuggm) as well. 
  • You wouldn’t walk into a room full of people and immediately start talking loudly. It’s the same for Twitter chats. Be a responsible and friendly chat participant. For the first chat, it’s always best to be prepared.
  • Set a calendar reminder so you can get ready for the chat. The 1st #CRCTrialsChat is scheduled for April 14 at 7:00 PM CST and the topic is “Let’s learn about clinical trials”
  • Log in to your favorite Twitter app. Twitter’s own search can track a hashtag or you can use more robust tools like TweetDeck to track the conversation. Google TweetDeck to find it and follow the prompts to use it.

Here’s a screenshot of my TweetDeck on my laptop. There are multiple columns that allow me to see different conversations at the same time.

Think about what questions you have about clinical trials. Also think of how you want to introduce yourself. If you would like, you can answer these questions to practice.

Inside the conversation

Once you’re actively participating in the chat, you’ll want to maintain the conversation levels. This is also not the time to be stingy with your engagement. Just like in real life, people respond well to interaction. So be generous with your Likes, Retweets, Quote Tweets, Follows and Replies.

You do not need to answer every question with a new Tweet or Quote Tweet but it’s good to show your appreciation in some way. This is my 1st time hosting a tweet chat, any and all encouragement is much appreciated. You could reply with “Good to know” or “Thanks for the information”or something similar. If you are more adventurous, you can check out some GIFs and add them to your tweets. Please make sure to include the chat’s featured hashtag ie #CRCTrialsChat. As you reply or answer questions, keep in mind that these conversations are public, and think about what information you would like to share publicly.

I have 4 clinicians joining Adrian and me in moderating the chat. I will introduce all moderators in the next few days. Please refrain from asking specific questions about your case to the clinicians, they will be happy to answer general questions. 

I am very thankful to everyone for their time and to Paltown and COLONTOWN University for supporting this project. #PancChat was generous to share questions from their tweet chat session in Jan 2022 and this session is adapted from their tweet chat. Special thanks to Lisa @letswinpc, Alison and Dr. Mike Pishvaian from @TumorBoardTues for all their advice and time in helping me get started.

11 questions we’ll be covering in the first TweetChat session:

  1. What are clinical trials?
  2. Why are clinical trials important?
  3. Clinical Trials have eligibility criteria that govern which patients can enroll. What are eligibility criteria?
  4. Why do trials have eligibility criteria?
  5. How is patient safety monitored during a clinical trial?
  6. What questions should patients ask before joining a trial?
  7. Do clinical trials use placebos?
  8. Who pays for the costs of a clinical trial?
  9. What happens to patients when a trial ends?
  10. What are some common clinical trial myths?
  11. How can CRC patients find clinical trials that might work for them?

We hope to spend about 5 minutes discussing each question. As was mentioned in the video above, in case you missed the tweet chat live, you can always answer the questions or like and retweet a reply whenever time permits. I will be keeping a continuous eye on the account.

I hope you are as excited as I am to participate in our 1st #CRCTrialsChat session. See you on April 14 at 7:00 PM CST on Twitter. Take care!