Before you can get stuck into these lively sessions, you need to consider which application / tool is best suited to the format in question.
10 ways to keep tabs on ‘live’ hashtag chats on Twitter
By Emily Cagle (a #BeMyGuest post)
Twitter Search is essentially the built-in function on Twitter that allows you to search for all Tweets on a certain subject.
Pros: Access the search automatically by clicking on any hashtag inside Twitter.com.
Cons: You have to manually refresh.
Web-based app, TwebEvent allows you to create a ‘Twitter event’. Each event has its own custom URL and you use your existing Twitter account to talk to other attendees during the event.
Pros: As a host you can customise your event with video and audio streams or a hashtag. Events can be invite only, if you wish.
Cons: Can be a little flaky when loading / refreshing.
HootSuite is a web-based app that lets you to manage multiple social network profiles, pre-schedule Tweets, customise the Twitter streams that you follow, and track your performance through statistics and keyword monitoring.
Pros: Set up different columns, so you can have a stream dedicated solely to a certain hashtag. Click ‘in reply to’ to view the entire conversation thread behind a reply.
Cons: Can be slow to refresh, so if the conversation is moving fast, you could miss out.
TweetGrid is a web-based app that allows you to monitor up to nine different topics at once.
Pros: Updates in real time so no need to refresh. Allows users to tweet from TweetGrid. Will automatically add the hashtag to your Tweets if you instruct it to.
Cons: TweetGrid is not supported on Internet Explorer 6.
TweetChat is a tool specifically geared towards enhancing and simplifying the live Twitter chat experience.
Pros: Hashtag gets added automatically. Conversation automatically updates, and you can set the refresh speed. Has a ‘smart pausing’ feature meaning that the page doesn’t refresh when you scroll down so you don’t reply to the wrong person.
Cons: Can be slow to refresh. Only allows you to follow a single search term.
TweetDeck allows you to customise your Twitter in several different ways, including incorporating it with other social media websites, creating groups, saved searches and automatic updates.
Pros: Easily customizable. Reply from inside the web app.
Cons: If you work on multiple computers you have to customise it every time.
Monitter is a web-app that allows you to follow several keywords on Twitter in real time (and within a geographic radius).
Pros: Can be followed as multiple columns. Can set up RSS feeds for keywords.
Cons: Can’t reply from within the web app.
CoTweet allows you to manage multiple accounts and multiple users, monitor keywords and schedule Tweets.
Pros: Can set it up so you can respond as a team. Can make notes on users, which can make following hashtag conversations easier.
Cons: If using CoTweet as a team, you can’t create search columns for every team member – they have to create and monitor their own which could lead to inconsistencies.
What the hashtag?! is an online, user editable encyclopedia of hashtags on Twitter, featuring stats such as the number of Tweets containing the hashtag or the number of individual users who have used the hashtag over a set period.
Pros: Updates the list of tweets associated with a hashtag in real time. Tweet from within the page and automatically add the hashtag to Tweets. You can subscribe via RSS. You can view an archived transcript of the conversation over a specified dateline.
Cons: You can only follow a single hashtag per screen.
10) Google Reader
Google Reader checks your favourite websites for new content, allowing you to share items of interest. Follow hashtag chats by following the associated RSS feed (e.g. feed://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=%23commschat)
Pros: Get an instant transcript for your favourite hashtags delivered to your reader or email inbox.
Cons: The time delay between items appearing on the net and appearing on the reader makes it impractical if you want to take part live. No way to reply from within Reader.
A big thanks goes out to Emily for compiling this list and analysing the pros and cons of each tool.
Are there any others you’d suggest?
Do you have a favourite amongst that bunch?