The Twitter Chat experience

There are lots of articles and blog posts out there that list Twitter tools.  Very few of them seem to discuss the actual uses of those tools. Since the beginning of the year, I have been involved in scores of Twitter Chats and I am always on the lookout for better ways to handle them.

Below you will find a list of Twitter Chat tools and my personal opinions of the pros/cons of each one.  If you would like to share your pros/cons, please do so in the comments.

TweetChat

Tweetchat is the leader in the Twitter Chat race.  It is my favorite chat app and it is the favorite of most Twitter chatters.  The TweetChat experience is simple and yet powerful.  To my knowledge they are the only app where you enter the hashtag once and then it is appended to each tweet for you.  They do not append any additional URL’s.  These alone are reasons to make them #1.

Another very important feature they offer is the ability to determine the speed that the tweets will refresh as well as pause the stream.  While this may seem trivial, you will understand why it is important when we get to savorchat.   Tweetchat also allows you to block/feature users, reply to particular tweets,  re-tweet any message, and favorite any tweet.

I have only used Twubs for testing and never for a whole chat.  The reason is I have an idealogical difference with the fact that they default to tweeting their URL with every tweet.  While twubs is not as good as TweetChat at the actual chatting, they are an interesting choice to view a hashtag BETWEEN chats because of the content that can be connected around the chatting community: Links, members, images,

and   

Both of these apps allow you save searches.  This feature can be used to follow a hashtag chat.  While it is nice to be able to work within a familiar Twitter environment, the huge problem is that you always have to remember to type the hashtag.  Call me lazy, but that is too much work for me.  :)

TweetGrid

Similar to TweetDeck and Seesmic Desktop you have to remember to type the hashtag.  One advantage TweetGrid has though is that you can create a URL that automatically opens a specific set of searches for anyone who uses it.

Writing this blog post was sparked after experiencing my first SavorChat on Tues night.  On the one hand, I am really excited because they have some features that I have been thinking would benefit chats.  On the other hand, their first implementation has enough negatives that it is almost unusable.

  1. They are attempting to provide breadcrumbs that show the reply chain of a particular tweet concept.  While this is useful in theory, there are a few problems.
    • Everything happens so fast in a Twitter Chat there is not really time to analyze the chain
    • Twitter chat replies are like a game of telephone.  The reply to the reply may have absolutely nothing to do with the original
    • They take up valuable space so that less tweets can fit vertically.
  2. They are attempting to solve the Twitter lag problem by providing msgs that do not go through Twitter but instead are posted directly to all the chatters.  Again, good in theory, but here are the problems
    • The tweets come in one at a time so that the screen is constantly moving.  Reading moving text is very challenging so readers keep losing their place and have to start over.  This makes the chat appear faster than it is.
    • The tweets are not actually going out to Twitter so we are not getting the benefit of the built-in marketing aspect that each participant is sending Tweets to all their followers

If savor chat were to throttle their updates to come in batches, default to tweeting every post, and provide the chain as an optional advanced feature; I think they might get to the top of the list.

If you want to add media to your twitter chat, there is a new application called twebevent just launching which will allow you to do that for free

What apps do you prefer for your Twitter Chat?

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29 responses to “The Twitter Chat experience

  1. Tweetchat is still the winner. Typing the hashtag every time is a deal breaker for me.

  2. Hi Swan, nice article!

    Unfortunately #eventprofs chat today is too slow to be able to discuss about it today, but well.

    I have only had the opportunity to use 3 of these tools.
    - Tweetchat, which is really good, but sometimes way to slow.
    - I use tweetDeck, it’s great. Regarding the hashtags you can click in [#] (bottom right after the URL shrinker) and the most recent tags will appear there. Also you can set your TD to copy the hashtag into your next tweet when replying to someone.
    - Twebevent it’s exellent, you can see the livestream and chat at the same time, the hashtag goes included (since is from tweetchat), I think it’ll be better to have them in two columns though, so if need to read downer still can see the screen.

  3. I’ve participated in some long standing Twitter chats that moved to other online tools for their chats including FriendFeed, Yammer, Meebo, TinyChat, etc. In each case, their belief was that if the content, people & networking contained quality, people would follow to the new location. I would try those new chat applications and return to Twitter. Eventually, someone else came along and created the chat once again in Twitter focusing on the same topic but with a different name. I am one that didn’t stay with the new location and came back to Twitter, even after two or three tries in the new application. I think the biggest loss when people move their chats to a new software is the growth of new attendees.

  4. Thx for the comments.

    @alliancetech It seems like such a small thing, but it really does make a difference not to have to type the hashtag. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing you forgot and having to send it again.
    @kenasiu Thx so much for the kudos about twebevent. We are working on a side-by-side version, but need some mods to tweetchat in order to fit on screen.
    @JeffHurt Agree completely. In addition to the obvious built-in marketing that Tweets provide, there is also the cross-community value. My blog post: “Community Intersection” http://bit.ly/JOj9y talks about that.

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  6. thanks for the twubs feedback. first, you can remove the link…but, we are doing so. so, i am glad we are in alignment with you.

    as for chat speed…we will be a touch slower than tweetchat because of the word filtering that user-admins put in place and due to parsing all the bitly and tiny urls, youtube media, etc. so that you see more than a nonsensical link.

    but, this is helpful…
    thanks!

  7. great post. Tweetchat is my fav, with Tweetgrid as a back up when it gets fluky.

  8. @Tony, thx so much for chiming in. First of all hats off to you for creating such an excellent application. Twubs is definitely in a class of its own. As I described in the main post, I think you are really onto something with the amount of content/community management that Twubs can do around a hashtag.

    I am very glad to hear that you are planning to make the default tweet from Twubs not include the URL. Please keep me posted when that happens. Will be happy to give it another run.

    All the best,
    Swan

  9. I love tweetchat But looking for blackberry app for it. Do they have one?

  10. @brandy, No blackberry app that I know of. Wow, hard enough to keep up with a chat on a full screen. Would be crazy hard on a mobile screen.

    I guess better than nothing if you are “on the go”

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  12. Nice post! I’ve added it to my list of resources in Twitter Chat For Writers (http://bit.ly/writerchats).

    My favourite: Tweetchat

    I checked out your Savorchat link, but it doesn’t seem to work properly in Firefox.

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  16. Thanks for mentioning TweetChat and thanks to all the wonderful users and the great third party application developers that make the cool tools that help facilitate your great communities and ideas!

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  21. just found this article wanted to chime in (however late). Having people connect and share knowledge to help solve challenges on a tweetchat is a great thing. The problem is after the chat the knowledge is gone. There is no list of smart people that you should follow from the chat. No historical knowledge and what happens is you regurgitate the same content after a while because everyone forgets.
    I run a chat on tuesdays noon est around the Business of Social Media. I had this same problem and created something from scratch. Not saying this is the answer, but has certainly become the most organized, resource filled chat on Twitter today. The site is http://www.hashtagsocialmedia.com
    Would love ideas how to make it better or can share how we got this far if interested. Hope this helps.

  22. Jason, thx for the post. I am also working on an environment like this at http://KMers.org Perhaps we should join forces.

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