Since January, I’ve been doing a Web chat once a month at the Consumer Electronics Association’s blog. To run each chat, we picked a fairly popular, fairly obvious free service called CoverIt Live.
This has worked fairly well, aside from a couple of times where technical miscues at our end resulted in goofs like reader questions not showing up in the chat stream. But in June, CIL announced that it would drastically limit its free tier. (It’s owned by Demand Media, a company I’ve written about it before for its history of running “content farm” operations that mass-produce posts to fit Google search trends.) Now what?
We’ve got a variety of options to consider–see, for instance, Mandy Jenkins’ list of free CIL alternatives–but it looks like these top the list.
ScribbleLive: We’d pay $49.95/month for up to 10 GB of transfers, which a footnote explains would translate to about 14,000 page views. This seems like it would provide the closest equivalent to the current experience (and the pricing shuts down CIL’s $49/month “Lite” option, which only covers 2,500 vaguely-defined clicks a month).
Twitter chat: I’d designate a hashtag for the occasion (maybe #CEAchat?), then answer questions posted under that hashtag for the next hour or so. This would cost nothing, but it will clutter the Twitter timeline of followers even if they’re not interested in the chat, and somebody would have to archive these tweets later on using Storify or WordPress’s own tweet-embedding function.
Google+ Hangout On Air: The hangout feature on Google+ no longer requires viewers to have a G+ account, thanks to this recent addition that lets you stream a broadcast on YouTube. Upsides: free, simple, and video may allow more or my alleged personality to show through. Downside: harder to share Web links this way; less likely to show up in search results; I might have to clean up my home office.
Which of these appeals to you? Cast your vote below, then explain it in the comments.
Not twitter. Have no twitter account, not going to get one.
Google+ would be nice, since I’m already there.
ScribbleLive is probably the most flexible. Which is why it costs money.
What does the Post use? Something proprietary, I’m guessing…
Correct. We used to use a truly horrible internal app called zForum–that was when chats couldn’t have links, embedded pictures or anything but plain text and also required reloading the entire page to see new responses. A few years back, the paper switched to a much better in-house app called vForum, which is the one you see now.
I am the social media coordinator at ScribbleLive and I just wanted to let you know a couple of things about our platform. You can pin any live streams with embed codes to the top of your liveblog and watch the stream while contributing to the liveblog – this includes Google+ hangouts. You can also import tweets with a certain hashtag or from certain users into your liveblog and tweet out from ScribbleLive. We have various moderation and filter settings, so you can pick and choose which tweets you’d like to see on your liveblog, making the conversation more relevant and on-topic.
Please let me know if you have any other questions about our platform or its uses.
You can contact me at email@example.com or tweet at us at @scribblelive.
Our support center: http://help.scribblelive.com/
Our blog: http://blog.scribblelive.com/
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