The rise of Slack has made it clear that chat is back and it’s back in a big way. It’s a fantastic chat app that companies use for internal communication.
At QiqoChat, we’re looking do the same thing for organizations that want to use chat-like collaboration tools when their members do not work together on a regular basis. For example, this situation applies to online communities and trade associations.
Online communities have different needs than companies. Specifically they are looking to help their members build relationships and share knowledge whereas companies are looking to create specific work products and documents. Different needs require different tools, however the basics of helping people connect live and in an efficient way remain the same.
AssociationsNow ran an article about this recent rise in chat applications:
It’s been about two decades since the chat room was truly in vogue, but this year could prove a turning point for chat in the private community sector. Need proof? Check the success of Slack.
Chat, especially in room form, is having a bit of a renaissance as we enter 2015. Once the territory of AOL, Gmail, and the ultra-technical users who could tell you what Internet Relay Chat (IRC) does, we’re reaching a point where the intimacy of chat could become more important than ever.
With QiqoChat we provide chat to our users so that they can engage in “collaboration escalation” which means that they can connect quickly and easily with chat and then they can arrange a video chat right there on the spot or even schedule a live audio/video event for another time.
Of course, chat for chat’s sake is not what anyone is looking for. Fortunately Slack and QiqoChat help organizations harness chat as part of their day-to-day operations to help their members be even more productive.
What do you think about this recent rise of chat?
Today was quite an ordinary day, and that is what’s amazing.
Just a few short years ago, we never could have connected with as many people in as many organizations so easily. As you can guess, we spend our days working in the software industry, which is a highly integrated ecosystem. Many services depend on many other services, and much of the code belongs to “the commons” and is open source. This creates a collaborative ethos which is excellent for solving problems.
Our goal with QiqoChat is to help grow this collaborative ethos in other industries where people help solve each other’s problems, because they know that even though they aren’t in need of help today, they will be in need of help from others in the community on another day.
In the software world, people share ideas and code in an open and transparent way. Sometimes money is exchanged and sometimes reputation is “exchanged” by people writing recommendations or rating each other’s expertise or support.
Of course, professionals in other industries collaborate across organizations, but it’s almost always when there is a formal relationship set up between the two organizations. It’s rare that people will gather, meet each other for the first time and start to solve each other’s problems unless they are all working on the same project.
For some reason, this is quite common in software. Also, the tools that are mainstream in other industries (forums, blogs, LinkedIn groups, and email discussion lists) feel stale compared to getting live help on-demand. These collaborative experiences are powerful and they will spread to more fields.
Today, for example, when we were writing software, we collaborated with some great people in the US, UK, and Brazil. Using tools like StackOverflow, HackHands, and GitHub we worked with some people we had never met before.
Because the code is open source, when we need help, we can see the individual lines of code that people suggest we use are safe, and we can immediately see if the solution they propose because the computer will compile it very quickly. Once there’s a solution, it’s documented for others to see when they face the same problem.
With QiqoChat, we’re building one of those platforms that can help bring this type of collaboration to other industries. Helping people help each other is the best part about this job.
- New: Just like a standard email discussion list, members can subscribe to all messages, or if they prefer to reduce the number of emails they receive, they can choose to subscribe to just the top-level topics in a daily/hourly summary and then opt-in to further replies for any of the specific topics that interest them.
- A QiqoChat conversation also enables people to participate live on the Web, similar to chat. New responses stream in realtime through the “Live Updates” section. You can click on a new update and jump right into that branch of the conversation.
- Participants will enter shorter, more direct replies on QiqoChat. This allows for a more readable conversation, and one where each branch of the conversation gets attention and that important points are not lost by being grouped with others.
- Participants can reply directly by email. Not all forum software has this capability. Unlike with listservs, it’s easy to tell exactly which comment the new idea is responding to.
- Participants can co-write a summary of the entire conversation. This can be used by a skilled facilitator to provide light structure for the conversation and to help latecomers get oriented to where they should focus now.
- You can embed these QiqoChat conversations into a live event. This enables more efficient live events, because the conversation can get started prior to the event, and it enables the written conversations to get periodic surges of activity to breathe new life into them.
- Participants can bookmark ideas and return to them later.
- The facilitator can mark some ideas as “featured” so they show up in the featured section (in the search panel) and get more attention.
- There is a word cloud and the ability to search by many advanced options (most replies, most bookmarks, featured ideas, my bookmarks, my replies, etc).
- There is an easily searchable archive of conversations and responses in those conversations. This is a tremendous improvement over standard archives of email listservs.
- There are many advanced email subscription options, such as subscribing to posts that mention specific keywords or solely the responses that are down just one branch of the conversation. This prevents email overload.
- Participants can give a “thumbs up” the key ideas so that they rise to the top. The facilitator can keep those totals hidden if he/she wants to ensure more objective voting if that’s useful on a topic.
- Each circle has a main conversation to which everyone is subscribed to a daily email summary, and all members can choose to start a new conversation if they have several related questions or conversation starters and want a dedicated space to dive into all of them together.
It sounds simple, and it is: to build a strong community, your members must be able to build strong relationships.
This means that they need a variety of fun and productive ways to connect with each other. Over time, these connections and interactions will add up to strong relationships.
I experienced this lesson firsthand this week, and here’s how it happened. For the past 7 years, I have been a member of an online community of dialogue facilitators. This community has gathered around an email discussion list for the past twenty years so it has quite a bit of history.
The email discussion list is quite active. When I shared this blog post about a fun dialogue experiment that I held this week, it resonated with a handful of the members very, very strongly. Two of the community members even said that they would replicate the experiment in different parts of the country. Other members of the community were supportive, but there was a noticeable difference between these two types of reactions.
When I took a step back and noticed who had responded so enthusiastically, I realized it was the same group of people that I meet with on a weekly basis for a live Skype video chat. Although the video chat is open to everyone, there are about ten regulars. Over time, we’ve gotten to know each other very well.
It is no coincidence that the relationships I’ve built during these video chats made it possible for my blog post to resonate with these folks. For members of that community with whom I’ve never met during one of those video chats, my blog post was just words. For people whom I’ve met through the video chats, they could connect with more of the emotion I shared in the blog post (curiosity and apprehension) and it had a bigger impact on them.
How this relates to QiqoChat
This is why we’ve made realtime audio and video events the centerpiece of QiqoChat. We believe that when people can connect live online, they can build relationships in a much deeper way than they can by simply replying to each other’s emails or comments in a forum.
We look forward to seeing all the ways our clients create space for their members to connect in meaningful ways, and we look forward to sharing many of those insights here on this blog.
A collaborative survey on QiqoChat is a great fit for certain situations.
What is it?
A collaborative survey is half survey and half discussion. Participants can see each other’s responses and build on each other’s ideas.
When would I use one?
Collaborative surveys are great ways to get an online conversation going. Participants respond to a set of questions and can then respond to each other. You would use a collaborative survey when you do want participants to brainstorm together.
What are the advantages?
With standard surveys, you have to sort all the responses and synthesize any differing opinions. With collaborative surveys, participants will push the best ideas to the top and they will be able to explore any diverging opinion in a productive way, creating further insights for you.
How do I create one?
It’s simple. Create a new QiqoChat conversation and add your survey questions as the conversation starters. Then share the link and give participants about a week to respond to each other.
We are comparing two formats for large-scale chats:
1. The content of an actual Twitter chat of 200+ tweets is at the bottom of this blog post. Most chat tools take this same format where everything is posted in chronological order and is hard to follow.
2. For comparison, we reposted those same 200+ tweets on QiqoChat at this link. A screenshot is below.
For a “mass chat” event with 20-200+ people in your organization, we think that you’ll find the QiqoChat format easier to follow and that the light structure it provides lets participants dig deeper into a topic and have a more productive experience.
Purpose of this Blog Post
Our company makes a tool called QiqoChat for “synchronous learning exchanges” which are similar to Twitter chats; they involve a large group of professionals getting together at the same time for a structured online collaboration.
In this case study we compare the association industry’s December 2nd Twitter chat of 200+ tweets in its original format to what those same tweets would look like on QiqoChat. We’re not trying to replace the association industry’s weekly chat format– it’s been great so there’s no need for change. Instead we’re hoping that if your association is interested in hosting its own custom “mass chat” event, then we’re hoping you consider QiqoChat as a tool you might use.
On Tuesday I enjoyed participating in an open Twitter chat with people who work in the association industry. This is a weekly event (Tuesdays at 2pm Eastern) which draws in great mix of association staff, consultants, and thought leaders.
It was hosted by KiKi L’Italien who posted 10 questions for everyone to respond to. There were about two hundred tweets shared by 30 participants within the hour. It was a useful and fun experience, but Twitter’s chronological & linear format has limitations which make a “mass chat” event like this less productive than it could be.
At QiqoChat, we’re exploring what a “multilinear chat format” could look like, and we invite your feedback. A multilinear format means that a conversation can grow in multiple directions at the same time without being too hard to follow. The goal is to make it easier for participants to interact with each other rather than just sending public messages back to the host.
Advantages of the Standard Twitter Chat Format
- The 200+ tweets from this example are posted below in their original, linear format.
- It’s easy for existing Twitter users to input their ideas.
- An event like this can reach many people, because many people have a Twitter account, but for an association’s members who haven’t already set up an account by now, there’s often a lot of resistance for various reasons.
- A Twitter chat becomes significantly hard to follow as more people participate.
- Participants are quick to share their ideas but seldom engage someone else with a response.
Advantages of the QiqoChat Format
- For comparison, here are the same 200+ tweets posted in QiqoChat’s more structured format
- There’s a slight but reasonable learning curve for participants.
- This “multilinear” format can handle much larger crowds without becoming harder to follow.
- People are more likely to interact with other participants and create conversations rather than just broadcasting their opinion.
- QiqoChat can handle a robust back-and-forth where people build on each other’s ideas, especially when an exchange involves more than two people. This gets complicated on Twitter quickly.
- Using the control panel on the left of the QiqoChat user interface, you can see the most common words in a word cloud, search for posts with specific keywords, find the questions from participants that went unanswered, find which posts are bookmarked, most-liked, and most replied-to.
- Bonus Feature: With QiqoChat there’s a unique feature that doesn’t exist on Twitter. With QiqoChat, you can let your participants connect with each other in small-group video chats before, during, or after the text chat to build deeper relationships and to explore some topics more in-depth. This functionality creates some exciting possibilities, and we’re looking forward to seeing and learning from creative uses of QiqoChat by skilled facilitators and other collaboration architects.
Twitter Chats are definitely worthwhile. They are fun, social, & informative for those that are already on Twitter, and we look forward to participating in many more of them. However, if an association wants to try a similar “mass chat” event for its members, then QiqoChat might be a better fit, especially if you expect a large crowd.
A question for you: What do you like or dislike about either format? You’re invited to post your comments below!
Raw Data for this Experiment
Tuesday’s Twitter Chat Participants
|# Tweets||Name||Twitter Account|
|1||Wendy A F G Stengel||@wendywoowho|
|1||Wired 4 Leadership||@Wired4Ldrship|
|1||Results at Hand||@resultsathand|
|1||Gnosis Media Group||@GnosisMedia|
|2||MPI Job Bank||@MPICareers|
|7||Megan Denhardt, CAE||@mdenhardt|
|8||Hrishikesh NC ||@HrishikeshNC|
|8||Jay S Daughtry M.Ed.||@ChatterBachs|
|9||Lowell Aplebaum, CAE||@Lowellmatthew|
|10||David Coriale ||@dcoriale|
Tuesday’s Tweets in their Original Twitter Format