Screenshot 2015-02-17 07.54.14

Sam Burrough and I are currently running a MOOC on social learning and as a part of this we are running weekly Twitter chats. Because of the topic of the course we felt an open, unstructured Twitter conversation would be the best approach.

So, we opened the first chat with just one question and let it go from there. We weren’t sure how many people would turn up and what the participation would be like. We were blown away by the response – we had more than 20 people contributing over 300 tweets in an hour.

Because the chat was unstructured, the conversation was directed by the participants which meant different conversations were happening at the same time on different aspects of the topic we had come together to discuss.

I used Storify to pull in the tweets. It’s a great drag and drop tool that lets you select a Twitter hashtag, pull in all the tweets and add your own narrative.  At this point I realised that curating the tweets was going to be a difficult task. There was no structure and a range of conversations happening at different times. Bear in mind also that someone might reply to someone else’s comments quite a few minutes after they first made it. In that time others may have commented or the thread of the conversation may have ended. Because the Storify interface is linear ie top to bottom, this means you have to scroll up and down through tweets to recreate the conversation. It can be done but it is tricky.

So, how to make sense of it? My first attempt at curating the tweets took me down a dead end. I was trying to pull together common conversations and present them as such. But there were so many disparate comments it just didn’t hang well. The problem is that Storify is a linear tool – it presents a list view. Free form conversations are non-linear. It’s as if I need a tool that presents conversations branching out from each comment and linking to and from each other.

Taking a step back from it I decided the best approach would be to look for common themes in the discussion and present those themes with a heading and then let the tweets sit below that. This is what I have done and you can see it below.

I think it hangs together well and feedback so far suggests it reflects the main themes and what was said. I also used Storify to pull in all the tweets from the conversation so they are saved in one place and people can pick through the whole conversation at their leisure.

I also curate a structured Twitter chat every other week called Chat2lrn – you can see my Storifies here – which is much easier to put together because there are questions that are clearly signalled in the conversation and all participants respond by including the question number in their response. If you want to run a Twitter chat and record it in an easy to understand way, taking this approach is your best bet.

Storify is a versatile and easy to use tool and I’d recommend it for capturing and creating stories from multiple social channels. It’s useful for capturing tweets but also enables you to pull in other sources too including  web links, Instagram and Facebook.

If you need any help with Storify then feel free to drop me a line.