Whether you’re hosting a Twitter chat for your district, or joining a conversation for your own professional development (#K12prchat), there are tools that will do the job much better than the Twitter website or app.
Here is a list of the best Twitter chat tools out there.
The first few options all have a chatroom-like interface and automatically include the chat hashtag when you tweet.
Pros: Unlike other options, Twubs gives you a square preview of images in any tweets.
Cons: If someone replies to you without including the hashtag, you might not see it in Twubs. Clicking the retweet button will do an old-school retweet (“RT” followed by the user’s tweet).
Pros: Tweetchat gives you the option of “highlighting” specific people, for example the chat moderator so that you can more easily see when they post a question.
Cons: Uses old-school retweets and retweets with comments. Images are left out. You won’t see any replies if they are missing the chat hashtag.
Similar to Tweetchat is tchat.io, but without the “highlight” feature, and clicking the retweet button will open a popup window to Twitter, where you can do a real retweet or retweet with comment.
This interface was daunting at first glance, and the dark interface isn’t as inviting as those mentioned above. However, Twitterfall is definitely more powerful. In addition to following one hashtag chat, you can follow any number of search terms or Twitter lists. You can also have mentions show up, in case someone replies to you but forgets to include the hashtag.
Bonus: you can color code the tweets; for example, direct replies or mentions will be in black, while tweets with your hashtag can be any other color of your choosing.
This is what I use for monitoring Twitter on a daily basis. For a chat, it won’t give you that “chatroom” feeling, but you will have access to the usual features that the above tools won’t provide.
The ideal set up includes one column to follow the chat hashtag, and one column to see your mentions and replies. If you are the chat moderator/host, you could even use the scheduled tweets column to set up a queue of questions to go out at specific times during the chat. Plus, you can use real retweets and retweet with comments — a feature missing from all other Twitter chat tools.
There are two downsides. First, you can’t make the columns very wide, so you will only see a few tweets at a time — much less of a “chatroom” feeling. Second, Tweetdeck won’t automatically include the chat hashtag when you tweet.
Similar to Tweetdeck is the reliable, column-based interface Hootsuite. The downside, however, is that their fastest automated refresh is 2 minutes. You have to manually refresh a column if you want to see new tweets any faster.
What I use
No one tool has every feature. During Twitter chats I use Twubs as my primary tool, with Tweetdeck open in another window so I can be notified of mentions and replies that don’t include the chat hashtag.
Here is a feature comparison chart to help you find your ideal Twitter chat tool: