Using hashtags to find content on Twitter is great. Especially when you’re looking for content about your favorite shows, artists, celebrities, etc. However, hashtags are NOT always ideal for tracking live-chat conversations among a tight knit group. The best examples being a weekly chat based on a theme; such as #CMOChat #FBChat, etc. Here are the main drawbacks of why Hashtags are not ideal for formats such as, Q&A with a special guest, and webinar style presentations:
1. Unclear Context
Live chats can feel like the Wild West. Social outlaws fire off tweets to gain attention and often these tweets aren’t even related to the topic of the chat. I call these outlaws #Hashtag Hijackers and @Autoschedule Squatters. They’ve become the Kanye West’s of live chat; “Yo #Hashtag chat, I’m really happy for you…& I’ma let you finish. But…”
These outlaws are probably out to dinner or maybe even on vacation. Their outbound queue is backed up with a dozen tweets that strategically use a #hashtag because they know there’s an audience there.
These participants only increase the speed of the chat stream and cloud the context. This detracts from the participants that are taking time out of their busy schedules to join a chat to have a genuine, in-depth discussion about a topic. And yet, there are always a large percentage of tweets that appear with no context to the conversation.
2. Echo Chamber Effect
Retweets can feel like an Echo Chamber.
RT: Retweets can feel like an Echo Chamber.
RT: RT: Retweets can feel like an Echo Chamber.
Back in April, we commissioned a study uncovering the Top 100 Brands on Twitter. We learned that the measuring stick used to qualify a brands Twitter activity relied on 4 measurements; Retweets, Replies, @Mentions, and Favorites. While these 4 are standard metrics that should be used, we shouldn’t host chats simply to create more volume for each of these metrics.
A couple of things always catch my eye when I’m participating in a Twitter chat. There’s always the popular person who drops that great quote and gets a lot of retweets. While I applaud these users for their great comments, the direct retweets cause clutter and redundancy in the chat thread; we call this the echo chamber effect.
So what can we do about it?
Think of your chats as if they were in-person events. It’s exciting to host and participate in discussions, keynotes, fireside chats , etc.; especially when everyone can participate. However, so often in live chats, a small group of people have their own sidebar conversation using the same #hashtag. Or it starts to feel like an echo chamber where the best tweets are retweeted over and over by individuals who are not participating in the chat.
This is why we built Tweetcast. A WebEx-like tool to share your content with a live social audience in real-time. Brands and Influencers can now host live chats on Twitter with tools that take the user experience into consideration. Here are some of the ways we are different:
1.) A Tweetcast is a live event that takes place on it’s own web page, not a #hashtag search result.
2.) Any Tweetcast landing page is accessible from your nest before, during, and after the live event. This allows you to promote the Tweetcast ahead of time, and archive the conversation for future reference.
3.) A Tweetcast archive is valuable to your SEO. Google only indexes hashtags found on G+, but since your tweetcast has it’s own page, it will show up in search results.
4.) We don’t rely on hashtag search results to deliver the LIVE event. We use smart links that allow anyone that sees the tweet to find the Tweetcast page.
5.) We filter out direct RTs and only show RTs where by the user added or expanded on the previous tweet. Example: “I completely agree! RT: Retweets can feel like an Echo Chamber.”
6.) We make it easy to highlight your special guests and remove any inappropriate or out of context tweets.
7.) And, last but not least, you have the opportunity to take your chat experience to the next level by presenting rich-media such as images, polls, videos, Google docs, and even live G+ Hangouts.
So, what are your thoughts? Am I crazy? Agree or disagree? Share your comments below. Otherwise, check out this blog post to learn How Our Customers Are Using Tweetcast.