Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hybrid Events: Is A Global Online Chat Application Needed?

On Monday I participated in a conversation regarding Hybrid Events and the future of the  back-channel conversation realm.  Subsequently, the question running through my head is, moving forward,  how will all the different social channels meld together into one big conversation, in the context of a hybrid event, so that all participants can truly connect with one another?  Are you with me?

Why is a Global Chat Application Needed?

Here is the challenge:

  • Presently the majority of chat conversations occurring in tandem with a live webcast take place in Twitter.  (Sorry no stats, but it dominates)  Twitter is currently the most viable chat solution for hybrid events.
  • A significant percentage of event attendees are still not Twitter users, although they may be using other social networks, such as Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • Some, but not all webcast providers do have a chat client built into their software platform .  The problem, even with those that do, is the messages posted there are static.  They do not show up in the social networks users utilize.  So, simply put, the viral impact of the messaging is lost.
  • External Twitter clients, such as Tweetdeck, allow users to post messages into multiple social networks simultaneously.  While that is possible, it does not result in much real-time conversation, as facebook, and especially LinkedIn discussions are slow and clunky.
  • Non-Twitter webcast participants have no efficient way to engage in a parallel conversation with event attendees who are Twitter users.

Contribute to the Solution

Hmmm… so what is the solution?  Great question, and not one I have the answer for.  So, instead I am putting this question out there for the #eventprofs community to consider.  This is an issue that is not going to be solved easily and the more brain power we leverage, the more potent the solution.

I created a Google Moderator site for the purpose of capturing everyone’s ideas.  For context Google Moderator is a collaboration tool that allows users to share ideas and view/vote on them in real-time.   Please visit the Google site and share your opinion.  All ideas are welcome!

My plan is to post a follow-up blog post sharing the feedback received from this experiment in collaboration.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

Follow Michael McCurry on Twitter

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian Hayashi September 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm

This is a very fast-moving space. I’ve been testing a Twitter app for conferencing (you can see it at http://labs.connectme360.com/arf) while testing new videoconferencing apps from Apple, Cisco Cuis (which is AMAZING), and Adobe Connect (which is a huge value, allows people to participate in Webex-kinds of meetings via their desktop or iPhone).

The ultimate experience is defined by

(1) being able to configure the display to meet the needs of individual meetings, which can be enormous or very small…

(2) which of course is dependent on the AV that’s actually available at the venue…

(3) which in turn acts as a constraint on the type of interactions that can take place. For example, streaming video is a huge piece of modern meetings, but requires a certain level of connectivity. Even Twitter is subject to being taken down from time to time.

My sense is that you’re on the right track…but that the client of the future will use either Facebook or Twitter (or Google or MSFT, if they can get their act together) as the backbone, carving out a separate chat event which is kept separate from an individual’s other conversations/activity streams by default.


Michael M McCurry CMP September 21, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Brian, thanks for joining the conversation … you raised some interesting points.

So I am curious about why you think the chat client of the future will be Facebook or Twitter based? What drives you to think that?

Thanks for contributing to the discussion.



Midori Connolly September 21, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Hey Mike,
This is also a challenge for those who want to have a private chat option for global attendees, both remote and on-location…a situation I’ve run up against in my Hybrid Meeting design and production services.
A challenge with the webcast chat option is that for those onsite, they can’t participate because they’re not watching the webcast!
The best solution so far has been yammer.com – but this can become pricey with the different administration options. It’s built on the salesforce.com platform, not a viable solution for every client.
Great posting Mike!


Michael M McCurry CMP September 21, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Hi Midori,

I envision a universal chat solution in a web 2.0 environment and freely available just as Twitter is or any other major social network.

My confusion is where is it actually going to come from.

Wish I had a crystal ball that works.

Thanks for contributing.



Sam Smith September 21, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Hi Mike –

Thanks for highlighting this issue. The company that I think solved this the best (so far) was Rob Johonson over at Eventvue. They had a superslick solution – the only problem is that their company went out of business before they could do anything with it.

Another option that we used at Event Camp Twin Cities – was Twubs.com. Ruud Janssen over in the Basel POD had setup one of these as a trial. When we kept running into issues with other applications we called on Twubs to fill the gap. It worked well – though not perfect.

The other issue that a Twubs or Rob Johnson’s solution solve is the problem when Twitter goes down. These apps keep on going – because you don’t have to tweet your response.


Michael M McCurry CMP September 21, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Hi Sam,

Great point about the independent apps not going down when Twitter does.

I have used Twubs and its ok, but to me not the solution that is going to prevail.

I’m not familiar with the other product you mentioned, but it went out of business anyways so I guess that is moot.

Thanks for contributing.



rvhssxwjp May 9, 2011 at 9:35 am
Dave Lutz September 22, 2010 at 9:48 am

Mike, I don’t think a global solution will prevail. I think there will be a multitude of embedded chat solutions that allow access and integration through the use of the public social tools like twitter, facebook and maybe LinkedIn through their API’s. Ultimately, your device will embed these social profiles and automatically log you in and as Brian suggests, by default post to those platforms.


Michael M McCurry CMP September 23, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the feedback to the question, and while what you say may be true, a multidue of embedded chat solutions still does not solve the problem of unifying a conversation so that all are connected.

Using specific social networks is fine, but then you are limited to interaction only with those other individuals that use that network.

To find some way to aggregate the conversation so that all can see it and respond would be incredibly powerful in my opinion.

Thanks for contributing.



Jeff Hurt September 23, 2010 at 8:17 am


Here’s my response to your question, “Is a global online chap application needed?” No. Do we need one universal TV channel? Do we need one universal radio station channel? Do we need one global smart phone? No.

I’m with Dave on this. Your question is like saying, should there be a global eCommunity provider that all events use. That’s just not going to happen and you are liking each of the social networks to all-encompassing communication platforms like a smartphone. If you are looking globally, things are very different in Asian countries with their own social networking sites that Western Civilization does not even know exists.

I think it is more about the organization educating its customers on how to use the platform of their choice to text chats during the hybrid event and helping people get comfortable with it. It’s not about a universal, all encompassing platform.


Michael M McCurry CMP September 23, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Hi Jeff,

First, I have to correct you on something… I asked a question because I was curious what people’s opinion would be on this subject. I honestly don’t know what the answer is that will most effectively unify conversations taking place during a hybrid event. So I am open to suggestions.

While your points raised certainly have merit, they still don’t answer the question of how to bring a real-time conversation together, taking place across several social network platforms.

I would love someone to outline a plan for effectively doing this, instead of saying people just need to be educated on the social networks. The challenge runs deeper than that.

Thanks for your contribution.

By the way what is a global chap? sounds interesting! :)



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