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Is Twitter Killing TweetChat?

This morning, Angela Dunn, host of the popular #IdeaChat Twitter chat series, alerted me that something was up with TweetChat:

Yes. TweetChat has posted a notice at the top of its site announcing that “Twitter is changing the way services like @TweetChat deliver data to users. In the very near future, TweetChat will most likely be unable to continue to provide our service.” Why is this a big deal?  People who actively participate in Twitter chats — communities that are organized around hashtags, and that meet on a regular basis to discuss specific topics — rely on TweetChat to help them manage those conversations. Right now, there are very few other options that allow you to easily participate in realtime conversations around a hashtag. So if TweetChat dies, what happens to all of those Twitter chat communities? The problem, apparently, is the latest round of Twitter API changes, now scheduled for June 11, which will prevent applications from using JavaScript to pull data from the Search API:

At a certain point, for a free service such as TweetChat to continue to keep up with the ongoing changes and increased restrictions Twitter is placing on its API access just becomes too difficult. TweetChat first announced the possibility of its demise with this sad-faced Tweet a couple of days ago:

Meanwhile, Twitter chat organizers are freaking out. As Angela Dunn pointed out to me, Twitter is killing communities, not just services.

Will the Twitter chat community find a way to save TweetChat? Or a new platform on which to host chats? Or is Twitter really killing not just an application, but hundreds of chat communities, too?

UPDATE: Angela Dunn estimates that there are more than 600 Twitter chats that might be affected by this. The source is a Google Doc that is currently locked, but at last count listed more than 600 different active chats. (http://bit.ly/TwitterChatSched). TweetReport has a list here: http://tweetreports.com/twitter-chat-schedule/.  Symplur tracks healthcare twitter chats, and they show 103 “weekly” chats (but many are monthly, too) http://www.symplur.com/healthcare-hashtags/tweet-chats/.

UPDATE 5/8: Internet Media Labs has announced the launch of a new, free Twitter chat client called oneQube SmartStream.

UPDATE 6/6: Internet Media Labs announced today that it has acquired TweetChat, which will be relaunched June 11 as a “content hub for everything about Twitter Chats and hashtags.”

  • http://flavors.me/40deuce 40deuce

    This is terrible news!
    I host the #SMmeasure chat weekly and heavily rely on TweetChat to do this every week. It’s the best client that I’ve used to engage for any and all tweetchats I’ve been a part of.
    I didn’t notice that warning during our chat last week, but I’m sure I’ll get it this week.

    What are we going to do?

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Marketwired

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

      I agree, Sheldon — it’s the best client for both tweet chats, and also for live tweeting at conferences. Let’s hope something changes or someone else steps up to provide a similar service.

      • http://flavors.me/40deuce 40deuce

        The problem isn’t the vendors stepping up though. It’s Twitter and what they allow developers to do with their API.
        What we really need is @Twitter to step up

        • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

          not sure that’s going to happen…

  • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

    It would appear that Twitter has discovered the “sweet spot” for a startup.

    1) Run on VC for as long as possible

    2) Extend that growth with an API and strong developer support

    3) Postpone monetization as long as possible

    4) Reach critical mass

    5) Slowly squeeze the developer community, absorbing uses that make money

    6) Own the empire

    Twitter is in stage 5 right now, but I am not certain they are looking at things like Communities as a moneymaker. If Twitter did have that in mind, the competing product would have been launched instead of something like Vine or Medium. So this smacks of Collateral Damage, an unintended consequence of girding up a vulnerability to a competitor.

    It also seems like the same sort of short-sighted thinking that lead to Google shutting down Reader. “Why should we care about the use-case of a small subset of nerds.”

    Yes. If you are a regular part of a TweetChat, you are a Nerd, and you are in a minority. Twitter is now for mass-marketing, for live-tweeting TV shows, and for worshiping Biebers and Kardashians. Go away, Nerd.

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

      Ike, I refuse to believe that Nerds have that little influence. Please tell me that’s not true…

    • Christopher Carson

      Ike —

      +1 Good exegesis of bad startup strategy. The writing was on the wall 3 years ago, at their first (and only, so far as I know) developer conference. They turned a useful **service** with a viable business model (charging for API access and analytics) into a channel for delivering sponsored tweets. The empire won’t be worth owning.

      –Chris

  • http://twitter.com/MediaLabPete peter bordes

    never fear the Twitter chat @oneQubeMe http://oneQube.com (will be posting on the blog) cavalry is coming!!!!! We are launching an interface by Wens to help everyone w/ the best chat interface you have ever used which includes our #SmartStream analytics :)

    • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

      1) Cost?
      2) How will your technology get around the API restriction that is capping TweetChat?

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

      we look forward to hearing more soon!

    • http://flavors.me/40deuce 40deuce

      I’m interested to know the answers to @ikepigott:disqus’s questions too

  • Kristof

    Sad, but true. I can’t see this move by Twitter as anything less than trying to squeeze out majority of third party apps.

    Before newest REST API update, an app could get up to 1500 tweets per call. New API caps it at 100 — with no increase in total number of calls an app can make. So only way to keep up with a busy chat is to increase number of calls for a hashtag by 15. This quickly diminishes total number of calls — and an app hits API limits.

    Twitter also added this to their dev. site
    “Please note that Twitter’s search service and, by extension, the Search API is not meant to be an exhaustive source of Tweets. Not all Tweets will be indexed or made available via the search interface.” source: https://dev.twitter.com/docs/api/1.1/get/search/tweets.

    The above changes will kill off most search apps that allow users requests such as TweetChat

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

      thanks for adding this detail, @18a3231d8e1991674520440e12cfd77b:disqus. All I can say is #sigh. It would be one thing if Twitter were making these adjustments while also showing a commitment to support the users who supported the platform early on. But that just doesn’t seem to be the case…

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  • http://generationbsquared.com/ Linda Bernstein

    Hi Tonia. First, I heard that it’s the Tweetchat guy’s choice, basically, to be killing off his service. Twitter is making it not worth it to him because it’s a side project for him. Second, I find that many people on Twitter chats are using Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. Third, Sees.aw is at this point a little difficult to use to chat, but they are going to be making adjustments, and it will remain free. This will be another option for chats. OneQube will eventually be a paid service, but right now it’s free and it’s opening up its beta. I don’t think the Twitter chat communities are really in danger because there are alternatives. There are also way more than 600 chats. That old doc was abandoned because it was impossible to maintain because so many fingers were in it. Unfortunately, so far there has been no good replacement for that doc. That would be a worthy project. Some people, like Nick Kellet, have indeed tried. But the chat communities will find a way. A certain portion of the Twitter user base is there for chats (probably not as much as those heavily into chats may think), and Twitter doesn’t want to lose them.

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

      Hi Linda! I do think people will find a way to continue Twitter chats — but it’s going to be a tough transition for those who are used to using TweetChat. Do you have any more sources of info on how many chats there are, @wordwhacker:disqus ?

      • http://generationbsquared.com/ Linda Bernstein

        Tonia, there’s this, which isn’t very good: http://www.gnosisarts.com/home/Tweetchat_Wiki/By_Day and this one, which seems better. http://tweetreports.com/twitter-chat-schedule/ . Nick Kellet also started a Listly, but I don’t know what happened with this.

        Basically, oneqube is totally on this. People who contact them now have more of a chance of being onboarded sooner.

        And you really can chat with Seesaw, though it takes a learning curve.

    • http://l2myowndevices.com/ Don Dingee

      TweetChat insists they aren’t “killing” service, but continuing is “unfeasible”, as it will be for many third-party apps that have to make major changes.

      I haven’t looked at OneQube yet.

      As many folks have pointed out, there is no really good service for a high velocity chat – if they can be updated quickly, messages also scroll off screen quickly. Tweetdeck on Chrome isn’t horrible but it can’t keep up. Chat transcripts help but are after the fact. Seems like a job for a product marketer somewhere …

      • http://borasky-research.net/about-data-journalism-developer-studio-pricing-survey/ M. Edward (Ed) Borasky

        There is no market for a product marketer to work in. Markets are composed of people with problems and a budget to get them solved. Honestly, I don’t know why Twitter chats arose in the first place, given that Internet Relay Chat (IRC) has been around since 1988:

        “IRC was created in 1988. Client software is available for every major operating system that supports Internet access.[6] As of April 2011, the top 100 IRC networks served more than half a million users at a time,[7] with hundreds of thousands of channels[7] operating on a total of roughly 1,500 servers[7] out of roughly 3,200 servers worldwide.[8]” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Relay_Chat

    • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

      Linda, I disagree with the end of your comment.

      The percentage of users who are engaged in Chats is very, very small. Twitter doesn’t care about that number of people, nor what they represent. “Power users” mean nothing to Twitter. Twitter is more interested in creating the infrastructure to allow “broadcasters” to blast to a big audience. The rest is window dressing at this point — valuable and important window dressing that is too big to ignore, but still just a sash.

  • http://oscarstech.com/ Oscar Gonzalez

    I’m a big fan of Twitter and love how many people I’ve met through their service, but Iv’e never been a fan of twitter chats. And it’s not just me being old school or griping about it, but the medium just isn’t designed for chats. It’s hard to keep track of who’s saying what, who’s responding, who’s just hanging out and listening, etcetera. I’ve always felt that twitter chats are just not that great. Plus they tend to annoy your followers that aren’t into the particular topic.
    I’m not too heartbroken about this going away, I’m sure someone else will replace it.

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

      I’ve been on some really bad chats (for the reasons you mention, @notagrouch:disqus). But when they’re good — well curated, well moderated, good participants — they can be an incredible learning and networking experience.

      TweetChat is also heavily used by people who are live-tweeting around events, so that’s another group that will have to find another solution…

      • http://oscarstech.com/ Oscar Gonzalez

        Yes, I agree it works if well planned and organized, but I think I’ve been only in one good twitter chat. No offense to any I’ve been to or attendees, but I just can’t seem to keep up. LOL, maybe I am getting old. :)

        • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

          well there’s your problem right there — you’re not supposed to try and “keep up”! ;-)

  • http://borasky-research.net/about-data-journalism-developer-studio-pricing-survey/ M. Edward (Ed) Borasky

    I’m surprised TweetChat is still going, actually. I’ll miss it, but IMHO ‘tweet chats’ have outlived their usefulness and we could all just go back to IRC.

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

      I don’t think I ever had as high a quality of conversation back in those days, Ed — but maybe I wasn’t invited to the right chats! ;-)

  • CHopeMurray

    I agree with Linda that there will always be an alternative, and it will involve change one way or another, such is the cost of progress and innovation. Without seeing the proposed changes from Twitter or the rationale behind them it is difficult to forecast what those changes will be, or more importantly the impact on the twitter chat community. This underpins the need for transparency. Twitter needs to communicate better than it does and we should use the engine to demand they do. Leaving the communities to imagine the changes and the consequences dilutes public confidence and opens the door for projections that may be 180 degrees opposite of what Twitter has in mind.

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

      Twitter doesn’t have a plan for TweetChat or other applications like it. They are focused on re-working their API to give them better ability to control how their tweets are displayed. This is just collateral damage to them, is my impression.

      • Kristof

        API 1.1 doesn’t give anymore control over how tweets are displayed – only how many are provided per call. How tweets should be displayed is covered in their TOS which, if not followed, Twitter simply revokes access.

        Limiting tweets per call might be steps they’re taking toward building out their own search – and controlling that data – because it limits the size of a third party search app.

        • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

          Kristof – Thanks for clarifying! My understanding is that the issue TweetChat is having is something related to using JavaScript to display the tweets, but I could be wrong about that.

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  • http://l2myowndevices.com/ Don Dingee

    First, thx for the mention. Second, this is a much broader issue than TweetChat. Anybody using the old Twitter API in their app is at risk. It’s pretty much the cause of the demise of TwitCleaner, the TweetDeck apps (although there is a new version revised for Chrome), and I’m also noticing TweetBlender on WordPress is having problems. We’ll see more issues in the next month.

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

      you didn’t include the link to the awesome post you wrote on this topic, so I’ll do it for you: http://l2myowndevices.com/index.php/2013/05/06/when-the-open-api-changes-look-out/ :-)

      • http://l2myowndevices.com/ Don Dingee

        I try not to be a blatant self promoter in other’s blogs/communities, bad form … but thank you for mentioning it.

    • http://borasky-research.net/about-data-journalism-developer-studio-pricing-survey/ M. Edward (Ed) Borasky

      “Anybody using the old Twitter API” has had plenty of warning of the changes, and it’s been discussed to death since Twitter made the announcements last year. I’m surprised TweetChat has lasted this long, given that they’ve been providing the service without cost or even a “Donate” button. TwitCleaner at least had a “Donate” button!

    • http://amyvernon.net/ AmyVernon

      The Tweetdeck Mac app also is alive and well. It’s only the old Adobe AIR platforms that are being killed. Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter now, they’re getting rid of the portions that conflict with existing apps.

  • http://www.cendrinemarrouat.com/ Cendrine Marrouat

    If you use Microsoft Outlook, there is an awesome app that I’ve been using to monitor conversations and Twitter chats. It’s called Twinbox: http://www.creativeramblings.com/twinbox-a-powerful-twitter-client-for-microsoft-outlook/

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

      That is a fabulous tip – thanks, @cendrinemedia:disqus!

      • http://www.cendrinemarrouat.com/ Cendrine Marrouat

        You are welcome.

    • http://lucrazon.com/blog Alice Ly | Lucrazon

      @Cendrine Marrouat I just downloaded Twinbox and it integrated seamlessly. I’m assuming to monitor conversations, it’s via the “Search/Track/Group” where it places each tweet into the folder of choice?

      Have you found it to be an effective way to see the twitter chat in realtime? And do you know if there’s a way to “favorite” tweets from your inbox?

      Sorry to bombard with questions and thank you for sharing! :)

      • http://www.cendrinemarrouat.com/ Cendrine Marrouat

        Everything is in the top right corner in your “Home” area.

        The only things you cannot do with Twinbox is add people to lists and following them directly.

        • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

          Sounds cool – too bad I abandoned Outlook years ago! :-)

          • http://www.cendrinemarrouat.com/ Cendrine Marrouat

            Yes, I have been using the tool for more than a year and it’s also perfect to keep an eye on things in my niche. As a social media journalist, I can’t see everything. lol

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  • http://twitter.com/Converoo K.C.

    Hi all – we are just a few days from releasing our new version of a free Chat Client that will be easier to use than Tweetchat and supported with future updates, augmentation and improvements. We’ve spent the past six months in analyzing how to make Group Tweeting more accessible to a wider audience (make it easier to use), and many of these “improvements” will be added in the coming weeks after the base version is released – which will be way before Tweetchat is turned off.

    We have also built a Chat Community Directory that is searchable and currently has 120 chats (most of the popular ones) available and a method for anyone to easily add their Chat to our Directory (it is monitored based on use-age).

    More to come from http://www.converoo.com...
    K.C.

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

      we look forward to learning more when you’re ready, K.C.

  • http://twitter.com/MackCollier Mack Collier

    There’s probably closer to a 1,000 Twitter chats, but only a small fraction of those are weekly chats with a sizeable audience. Because those of us that have a chat will tell you that it’s damn hard work to grow and sustain it.

    At the end of the day, Twitter wants to move everyone off 3rd party apps/sites onto their website and apps they control. I get that. I also get that Twitter is a free service so they have to make money somehow, and this is a big part of that.

    The reason why social media/online sites typically fall out of favor is because the experience changes for the core audience that built the site up. The changes come gradually (anyone remember when a reply to someone could be seen by anyone following you and not just someone following both you and the person you replied to?), but over time, the experience that originally drew us to the site, disappears.

    This is another step in that direction. And Twitter chats aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the bigger point is that Twitter is a free service, and since we aren’t the customer, that means we are the product. Twitter needs to monetize us, and will look for ways to keep us on channels they have control over, so they can beam us ads, promotions, leverage the content we create to sell to advertisers, etc. Those ads we saw on 3rd party apps will likely shift more to the site, and be placed within our streams.

    It sucks, but again, this is a free service and you get what you pay for.

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

      @Mack – what puzzles me is why Twitter seems so uninterested in capturing the massive opportunity they have with the long tail of their platform. They seem to be placing all their bets against capturing and monetizing big celebrity- or news-driven events — fine, but the reason that Google is so successful is because it has figured out how to monetize *every* search and every click. Twitter has the same opportunity, but alienating what @ikepigott referred to as us “nerds” won’t help them get there.

      Twitter chats drive consistent traffic and usage around key vertical topics. For very little investment, Twitter could easily buy or build a solution for that and have a great monetization strategy around it.

      • http://twitter.com/MackCollier Mack Collier

        Tonia those are great points, but search and discovery doesn’t seem to be a priority for Twitter. If it was, Twitter chats definitely feed into that.

        • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

          I’m talking about monetization via their promoted tweets products (which are targeted based on keywords). They could sell ad programs around regular chats, and even do an affiliate program similar to Adsense to encourage chat hosts.

          Chats on their own may be small potatoes compared to selling a promoted trend against the Super Bowl. But for Twitter to really make bank, they have to figure out their long tail strategy.

          • http://borasky-research.net/about-data-journalism-developer-studio-pricing-survey/ M. Edward (Ed) Borasky

            Part of running a business as big as Twitter that’s growing as rapidly as Twitter is maintaining focus on things that *really* work and work *predictably*. Selling advertising with a potential audience of hundreds of millions is where they’ve chosen to focus. It’s a well-defined market with well-defined competitors and customers and success metrics.

            There’s also the issue of infrastructure scalability. Chat is notoriously difficult to scale, and Twitter chats are viewed as spam by many non-participants.

          • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

            Ed – all good points. And yes, I’d go for the big bang opportunity first.
            Not sure I agree on scalability, though – make it easier to host & participate in chats, and I think you’d see many more chats come into existence.

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  • http://twitter.com/SteveCassady Steve Cassady

    There are several solutions in the pipeline to enhance the broader Tweet Chat experience. The newer solutions are using a different architecture than what TweetChat or TweetGrid uses which is dependent upon one of the new Twitter API terms that is being restricted. The economics is that the newer solutions require more server capacity than the web based Brower solutions deployed by several of the current active tweet chat tools. Thus, there will likely be funding required to support that capacity. My research on 20 top ranked chats show that Tweet Chat is by far the largest tweet chat focused service so there will be a lot of people looking for a replacement if it goes away. I noticed today that TweetChat removed their “demise” heading.

    A benefit of the enhanced solutions under development from the discussions I have had is that there will be more Tweet Chat Management Tools and information available. So all hope is not lost for Twitter Chat participants.

    • http://borasky-research.net/about-data-journalism-developer-studio-pricing-survey/ M. Edward (Ed) Borasky

      “I noticed today that TweetChat removed their “demise” heading.”

      I also noticed ads on the TweetChat page for the first time. Maybe they’ve always been there and I never noticed them.

      Still, TweetChat has a lot of coding to get done just to be fully compliant with Twitter’s tweet display / interaction rules, and without a *viable* product-market fit – building a tool some segment of the population will put into a budget – I don’t see that happening.

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  • http://therealtimereport.com/ Tonia Ries

    Hey Everyone – we just learned details about one of the new Twitter chat clients – my post on oneQube’s SmartStream is here: http://therealtimereport.com/2013/05/08/oneqube-smartstream-a-free-twitter-chat-platform-launched-today-by-internet-media-labs/

  • http://twitter.com/MediaLabPete peter bordes

    well the cats out of the bag all. announced here first at #RLTM.

    oneQube SmartStream, A Free Twitter Chat Platform, Launched Today By Internet Media Labs http://oneQube.com

    http://therealtimereport.com/2013/05/08/oneqube-smartstream-a-free-twitter-chat-platform-launched-today-by-internet-media-labs/

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  • CrawlWall

    Maybe I’m missing something as I’m not current on the API changes, but why can’t you use javascript to invoke a server-side API call on your server and sidestep the issue?

    • Christopher Carson

      @CrawlWall:disqus That requires server side infrastructure, which costs quite a bit of money.

  • NathanRJessup2001

    There is a very useful resource of fully searchable twitter chats at thechatdiary.com

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