Tool Review: Twitter Chat Tools

Group chat

I’ve become a big fan of Twitter Chats. I highly recommend participating in chats for a number of reasons:

  • They’re a great hub for connecting with people of similar interests.
  • They usually include a question and answer period so you can ask questions or provide useful input to others.
  • Using a chat hashtag will ensure that your tweets show up when others search for that topic – this increases your exposure on Twitter.
  • If you can think of an interest, there’s probably a chat for it. You’re not limited to only business issues – you can meet people with similar hobbies, geography, etc.
  • Though growing my connections wasn’t a goal when I started chatting, I’ve seen a huge increase in the number of people following me and that I follow as well. As the chat is in progress, connections are made and following is a logical next step.

Technically, you can participate in a Twitter chat from within Twitter itself.  Just search for the hashtag and you’ll get a feed of all the tweets containing it.  Note that when the screen first renders you’ll see “Results for #Hashtag” at the top with a choice of “Top” or “All” underneath that.  You’ll want to click on “All” or else you’ll miss the full stream of conversation.  Note that using Twitter itself provides an almost “real time” stream of tweets but it is a bit slower than what you can get with some of the resources I’m going to list here.  Why does that matter?  Because if you’re not getting the tweets in true “real time” you might miss something. Also, this Twitter screen will include Retweets.  Why might that be a problem?  Because if you’re reading the steam you’ll see the same tweets more than once. It can be useful to filter these out so that you see only original tweets.  With chats often moving very quickly, it can be good to eliminate distractions in the feed.

Note that if using Twitter to chat via desktop, when you click “Tweet” you just get the standard box for composing a new tweet.  The chat’s hashtag does not automatically append to your tweet.  Why does this matter?  Because if you don’t include the hashtag, the chat community won’t see your tweet AND because if you have to manually add the hashtag you lose time and focus on the conversation.

Interestingly, if you use the Twitter mobile app, you’ll find that in this same scenario, the hashtag IS appended to a new tweet.  I’ve used this method a few times when I couldn’t get to a computer.

With all of this in mind, I suggest using one of the many helpful resources for Twitter chatting.

There are far too many to include in this review but these are some of the most popular, listed in no particular order.

 

TChat.io

 

tchatdotio

 

  • Interface is clean and easy to follow.
  • Hashtag is automatically appended to new tweets.
  • Retweets can be hidden at user’s discretion.
  • Stream can be paused.
  • No mobile app but the mobile site is responsive and user friendly.
  • There is no “playback” option but tweet history is displayed.

 

TweetChat

 

TweetChat

 

  • Interface is easy to follow and allows for highlight and blocking specified users (great for drawing attention to the host’s comments or blocking undesirable tweets).
  • Hashtag is automatically appended to new tweets.
  • Retweets can be hidden at user’s discretion.
  • Tweets cannot be paused but there is a “Buffer” option that will render tweets only 5 at a time if chat is moving more quickly than you’d like.
  • While I did see an iOS app called “TweetChat” it didn’t work for me at all when I tried it. The mobile browser based version of TweetChat, however, is responsive and easy to use.
  • There is no “playback” but tweet history is displayed.

 

Twubs

 

Twubs

 

  • Interface is slightly busy but the right column contains the chat’s contributors as well as hyperlinks related to the chat. Also, “Chat Mode” removes this column and expands the stream.
  • Hashtag is automatically appended to new tweets.
  • Retweets can be hidden at the user’s discretion.
  • Stream can be paused and speed of the stream can be changed.
  • There is no mobile app and the mobile web version isn’t responsive.
  • There is no “playback” but tweet history is displayed.
  • Though there are other ways to achieve this, Twubs’ option to “Embed this hashtag” with a click is a nice feature – useful if you want to put a chat stream on your website.

 

Nurph

 

Nurph

 

  • Interface is easy to follow, includes optional sound effects (such as a sound notification when someone mentions you).
  • Hashtag is automatically appended to new tweets.
  • Retweets do not appear in the stream.
  • Stream cannot be paused or slowed but there’s a scroll bar allowing for easy backtracking.
  • There is no mobile app and the web version isn’t responsive.
  • There is a possibility of being able to view a replay of a chat – provided the chat hosts have enabled this via Nurph. The speed of the replay can be adjusted. Under the “Past Chats” link for a given chat session, Nurph provides insight about attendees and tweet activity.

 

HootSuite

 

HootSuite

 

  • Interface is user friendly, amount of content on screen is at the discretion of the user.
  • Hashtag is NOT automatically appended to new tweets.
  • Retweets appear within the stream.
  • There is no pause option but user can specify preferences for how often the stream is refreshed. The lowest of these is 2 minutes. For a more real-time refresh “Manual Refresh” can be selected but then the user must continue to refresh at will.
  • There IS a mobile app and it’s easy to use.
  • There is no “playback” but tweet history is displayed.
  • User can choose multiple streams to display. This can be helpful if you’d like to see the chat itself as well as, for instance, the host’s stream or the guest speaker’s stream all at once via the web. On mobile only one stream is visible at a time.

 

Have you tried any of these tools?  Is there another tool that you use and love?  We’d enjoy hearing what you think!  Tweet us at @BayLeafDigital or @ChristinKardos and tell us who we missed or why you like these.

 

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