On March 9 all of the PR focused hashtag communities got together under the banner of one common hashtag (#chatmixer) to discuss PR. While there is value in each different hashtag, there is also a lot of value in occassionally merging.
Here are a few write-ups of that experiment:
Kudos to them for their leadership. In this post I am talking about the general concept that they pioneered of blending hashtags.
One of the greatest advantages of a Twitter Chat is that there are no community walls. In fact, I think about it like a town square of old. Its always open for anyone to wander through on their way somewhere else or to explicitly go to for an event. Throughout the week people may see each other and share a few platitudes. One person or another may even bring a soapbox and share their ideas. Still others will post notes for people to find. All these behaviors are replicated in a Twitter Hashtag Community.
Once a week a crowd will gather to converse, debate, share info, etc…. With Twitter, each one of those who gather also have a direct line back to their block (followers) communicating just a portion of the conversation. A follower, whose interest is piqued by this flurry of posts on a single topic, may come and listen. Any time THEY start sharing, they develop a direct line back to their block…and so on.
A #chatmixer takes this concept a step further and starts to blend crowds that may have a lot in common. While twitter naturally breaks down walls between communities anyway, the #chatmixer can explicitly bring two or more together.
There are lots of different ways to make it happen. You can create a new hashtag like the PR folks did, but I prefer a different approach.
- For chats that take place weekly, you set up one chat on each of the hashtags that are participating.
- Each topic can be the same or different, but it should be of interest to the intersection of the communities. Eg. for #KMers and #innochat we did “How does KM support innovation“
- If each community has a website (Ning, blog, wiki, etc..), you post the other group’s chat day/time for your community to see.
- For the pre-event promotional tweets you encourage multi-hashtags to bring members from one community to the others’ chat.
There are lots of overlaps among the Twitter hashtag communities. Click here for a spreadsheet list. I hope we will see more of them getting together. If your twitter use has not evolved to the point of community involvement, jump in right away. Everyone is very friendly. 🙂
Events have been hit hard. The perfect storm of the down economy, the stigma of business meeting travel, and the advance of technology have led to a sudden change in the events industry. Less expensive unconferences and virtual conferences are booming. Virtual components are being added to in-person conferences to help reach those who cannot travel.
Thanks to many great online tools, it is possible to collaborate and contribute in meaningful ways without attending in-person. There are higher-end tools like The Social Collective, Pathable, and Crowdvine that have a nice feature set, but also an accompanying price tag. Twitter is free and can be used without those tools, but takes some organizing:
- A blog post about a study of how Twitter is being used at conferences
- A paper: comprehensive academic view of Twitter use for conferences
- A great post from Travolution Summit 2009 about their Twitter use experience)
If you want to provide a virtual audience with content richer than Twitter’s 140 character information nuggets, there are new products emerging. They not only harness the power of Twitter, but also combine a video/audio feed so that everyone can discuss the same content from wherever they are. Your virtual audience will have a much stronger “feel” for your conference content.
twebevent.com is one such product. It allows you to present your brand as the host, stream the live or recorded video, and combine it with a Twitter Chat using whatever Hashtag you prefer…..all for FREE. twebevent is a new start-up so you may encounter some blips, but if you use the customer feedback (blue button on the right edge of their page), you can give your opinions for product direction.
twebevent provides the :mashup” environment, but a host still need to find a way to video capture and stream. Companies like Speaker Interactive can help with those logistics. Products like ustream.tv and livestream.com can handle the live streaming. Qik will even live stream from your phone. YouTube and Vimeo are two good options for uploading recorded video. In any of those cases, just copy the embed code to a twebevent and it will appear for your audience.
If you prefer to keep things really simple, avoid the complexities of video and just open up a phone bridge through providers like talkshoe or blogcastradio and connect the audio stream embed into the twebevent.
If anyone has any questions or comments, I am happy to connect. If you want to read more, check out the lessons learned from the first twebevent live trial or try my previous blog posts re: “Future Conferences” part 1 and part 2.
In my personal opinion, the #1 rule for the success of an online community is that members should not have to go somewhere they don’t already go in order to participate. Since that goal is usually quite challenging, the fallback is that if they do have to go somewhere else, there better be a significant quantity of links from where members are to where the online community is.
There are only so many places that people exist in the online space. Facebook, Google, maybe LinkedIn, some to Ning. After that it gets pretty fragmented. Along comes Twitter. Different people join for different reasons, but once they are there, the barriers between communities are negligable. If you are wondering what does he mean by “communities on Twitter”, then you should check out the hashtag communities that are starting to form and the tools which support them (Tweetchat, Twubs, wthashtag). A hashtag is just a keyword with a ‘#’ in front to denote a topic.
The intersection that I am talking about is when people post multiple hashtags in a tweet. Eg. “There is a great new list of Professional speakers on Twitter: http://bit.ly/ManhC #spkrchat #eventprofs” The speaker list is something that may be of interest to both speakers who might want to add themselves and event professionals who might want to book or at least follow certain speakers.
Now the members of both communities are aware of each other. If this cross-posting continues, there is likely some cross-interest between the communities and therefore some intersection of membership. Those who are members of one will find the second community very easily and have constant links to it put in front of them.
eg. If I am an event planner (member of #eventprofs) who books a lot of speakers, I am gaining awareness of this other community (#spkrchat) and become far more likely to join and participate.
If Twitter continues to grow and remains popular amongst regular users, watch for these communities to become quite important.
Hashtags are used to tag posts. They enable users to perform better Twitter searches and run twitter chats. Despite denigration by Scoble, hashtag popularity appears to be on the rise. As people add more and more Twitter followers, the “noise” level tends to go up and hashtags are a way to sub-divide the stream. (NOTE: a hashtag filter is better than a generic keyword filter because the extra addition of the ‘#’ character shows intention to classify a post whereas otherwise the keyword could be in a post out of context)
Because receivers are starting to filter by hashtags, Tweeters are starting to use them so that their messages will be read by the target audience. Unfortunately, where there is a target audience, there is going to be SPAM. People who are selling products (sometimes completely unrelated to the hashtag) are now adding a variety of hashtags to their messages.
The next evolutionary step in the process is that viewers will soon have the ability to filter both keywords AND people. You will be able to block out that SPAMMER so they no longer show up in your Filter. You will be able to white-list particular people who you do want to get through your filter. Tweetchat has recently added the ability to feature and block particular usernames from a hashtag filtered chat.
If you are interested in finding a hashtag chat, there is a schedule here.