ProfNet, the company that connects reporters with sources, asked me to lead a Twitter chat on how journalists can use social media in their work. It was fun, and using a hashtag set up for the chat, I was able to disperse little bits of social media wisdom in 140 characters or less.Last fall
I even got my picture in on ProfNet's sign in Times Square leading up to the chat, a photo of which is now a rather cool conversation piece in my living room.
The problem is not everyone who follows me on Twitter is a journalist, or even cares that much about the inside baseball stuff I talked about during the hour scheduled for the chat. They complained that their feed was filled with me sprouting technical gibberish. Another sent a direct message asking if a "dork-bot" had hacked into my Twitter account.
Several services are stepping up to offer Twitter chat features that Facebook and Google+ users take for granted as an integral part of the service. But questions abound: Do services like Bonfire and Joint match up to make Twitter as good as a chat client as its competitors?
Both services make similar promises, including the ability to have group chats and private chats with your Twitter followers. Both services work in real-time, an improvement over Twitter's direct message function, which tends to lag and also does not allow for group chats.
The biggest difference between the two services is that Bonfire works within Twitter's interface, while Joint is a desktop app that simply using your Twitter login information. Once the app is laoded, conversations and direct messages won't be updated in your Twitter timeline, and conversations can't be continued if you try to access them through your mobile phone.
The other drawback for both services is that the people you want to chat with will also have to have the client installed.
All of the services beg the question "Why?" as it seems there are a slew of chat clients like Skype or social networks like Facebook that integrate instant messaging into their core offerings. But if you have a hankering for Twitter chat, here are some other services to consider:
- t.imo.im: Allows you to quickly invite people into a private chat space using Twitter direct messages or @ mentions. Simplistic and somehwat clunky, but quick and uses existing Twitter login credentials.
- TodaysMeet: Lets companies and individuals create "disposable" chat rooms around a Twitter hash tag. The room expires after a user-determined length of time. Bills itself as a way to solicit comment and allow users to participate in a discussion at their own convenience, without the clutter of Twitter's public timeline.
- Tagch.at: Has the look and feel of old-school chat rooms where you talked with strangers about a common interest. The only difference is chat rooms are built around Twitter hash tags.