How to put a live chat room on a podcast website – TAP046

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Chat FolderEncourage viewer-participation with a chat room during your live-streaming, podcast-recording sessions.

Previous live-streaming podcast episodes

Make sure that you’ve listened to previous episodes in our live-streaming series.

Ideal chat room features

Embedding a chat room is easy, but picking a service that works best for your listeners is harder.

  1. Hosted by someone else
  2. Embeddable on a web page
  3. Prefer without Flash Player
  4. Anonymous or guest access without account
  5. Account option
  6. Integration with Facebook and Twitter (including login with them)
  7. Top-to-bottom flow (like an instant messenger)
  8. Basic formatting (bold, italics, links, colors)
  9. Moderation controls (word-blocking, banning users)
  10. Free or low-cost

Sites that offer embeddable chat rooms

  • Ustream.tv—requires Flash Player, requires Ustream.tv account for chat room, posts bottom to top, mostly stinks
  • Justin.tv—does not require Flash Player, requires Justin.tv account, posts top to bottom
  • LiveStreamcurrently requires Flash Player (promises support for non-Flash soon); allows guest and LiveStream registered account; posts top to bottom.
  • Chatango—requires Flash Player; allows anonymous, guest, and registered account; posts top to bottom
  • Facebook Live Stream—does not require Flash Player, only allows Facebook users, posts bottom to top
  • 99chats—requires Flash Player, allows guests, posts top to bottom
  • UserPlane—requires Flash Player, free option limited to 25 connections
  • ChatRoll—does not require Flash Player, Facebook and Twitter logins, account option, posts top to bottom, free option limited to 10 participants
  • CBox—does not require Flash Player, $2/month
  • Anything powered by IRC, such as WyldeRyde. These are sometimes Flash-powered, sometimes Java (avoid these), and sometimes Javascript and HTML (get these).

Do you know of other services or have thoughts on any of these? Please share your feedback!

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  • http://twitter.com/evinsmj Matthew Evins

    Daniel – When I host my live podcast, there is a delay in the audio being fed to the live site (I’m using Mixlr because it’s audio only). I’m experiencing a problem with the lag and audience participation. By the time the audio hits the live site and users comment in the chat room, we are already on a different topic. Do you have thoughts on how to minimize this? Thanks!

    • http://About.me/DanielJLewis Daniel J. Lewis

      Unfortunately, this i the nature of things. Your computer has to encode your audio into Mixlr’s format, send it to Mixlr, and then distribute that to your whole audience.

      This delay shouldn’t be more than 10 seconds on Mixlr (I get up to 30 seconds on video services, especially for mobile). Run a couple tests with your audience to determine the exact delay.

      You can also adapt your presentation to be easier to flow with the chat room. For example, if you have a question, ask it and then keep moving with deeper explanation or sharing your own opinions. This gives live listeners a chance to hear the question and type their answer while you’re still on the topic.

      Good example:
      How do you use Tumblr? I’m thinking about this because … and I think that … . In our chat room, bobby214 says he uses Tumblr like … .

      Bad example (considering delay):
      I’m thinking about Tumblr because … and I think that … . But how do you use Tumblr? [awkward silence while you wait for answers]

      But a lot obviously depends on the format of your show. You don’t have to fear dead air like radio does, but silences still shouldn’t be more than a few seconds (and that only when necessary).

      So look at what you’re saying and consider rearranging how you say things to allow you to continue presenting while the chat room catches up.

      Also keep in mind that even with a 10-second delay, it may take a lot longer to see a response simple because it takes people time to think of an answer and type it out.

      If live audience participation is crucial, then a different technology, like live call-ins or Google+ Hangouts On Air may be better for you.

      Above all, you want your show to be a good, easy experience for the majority of your audience. For most podcasters, this is their downloading, non-live audience. So catering the conversation to the live audience will annoy the rest of your audience.

      • http://twitter.com/evinsmj Matthew Evins

        Great – thanks for the response!