We held our very first chat event yesterday on our Hoopla community platform and it went really well!
Previously we held chat events on Twitter and I think that still has its place in the mix. However, the functions available on Hoopla provide major advantages to me over Twitter. eg
- No pesky character limit means I'm not constantly counting letters so I can concentrate more on what I'm saying
- Dedicated chat means what I'm saying is in one stream which makes it much easier for people to follow
- The chat is archived and not lost, which means people who couldn't make it can read it later and I can refer back to it to create eg a blog based on what was discussed.
However, there are some things I would like to do that either I haven't yet learnt how to do (so apologies if you can do these and I just didn't see how) or functions that would be great to add to make this feature even more powerful.
- I'd like to be able to delete posted messages as the moderator - sometimes I accidentally pressed publish and I'd like to weed out the garbage
- This is the biggie for me. I'd like to be able to archive the chat event on the Forum page. What I mean is that it's fine to have all the archived chats together in one place. However, when the chat is over, I'd like people to be able to come and read it on the appropriate Forum and then continue the discussion in the Forum. In this scenario the chat is live talk and the Forum provides continuing discussion on the topic. Since I'm dealing with a community spread over all world time zones the ability to be able to comment on the chat is really important for my members who couldn't make it. I think you have all the technical functions needed: this is just the ability to tag the finished chat as an item that can appear in a Forum or can be put in other collections.
- I would like to be able to set up private practice sessions on the Chat Event. I didn't know what to expect and we would have liked to have had a bit of training before going live with the event. I'm going to have new guests I need to train up on Chat Events, so the ability to just have a 5 min practice dummy run would be great.
- Posting to Twitter. A bit of a more far out wish list is that you could add the functions we currently have on LI which is if we post we can tick a box to also tweet out. This means that eg the moderator could tweet out selected jewels of wisdom while the chat was going on. Integrating these two would be fab.
- Customise the ending. Is there a way of customising the ending and setting this up before the chat? Rather than just "this event has ended", couldn't I change that to "Thanks for coming blah blah, continue the discussion on blah blah, next event blah blah". That would be cool.
Those are just a few things that I think would really push the whole thing forward. I realise some are easier to do that others, but thought I'd flag them up for you to consider. The main thing around chat is to start a conversation about something, and the ability to keep it going in Forums (seamlessly) is a major advantage over other platforms. Currently we chat on Twitter and then have to move to LI to do that. What you have here is the potential to provide both on a single platform and then also integrate the ability to post to Twitter - very, very powerful.
The other hint is about how we behave currently also. We tend to have skype open when chatting so moderators can message each other during the chat privately. I know IM functionality has been suggested, but integration with Skype may be an alternative as that also adds voice functions as well as IM. Most of us are avid Skype users anyway, so it's a path of least resistance too.
The first chat event went really well and our community is buzzing about the possibilities we are now supporting - even though we're still effectively in beta!
Thanks for that and hope you find these ideas interesting