When it comes to live chats or hashtags, Twitter does not make it very easy for users to find relevant content. Unless they rely on a third-party tool.
Meet Rob Schutz, the founder of Chirp Guide. In this exclusive interview, you will learn how you can use this service to find discussions that matter to you across a broad range of categories.
Cendrine Marrouat: Hello Rob, thank you for answering my questions. First, introduce yourself to readers.
Rob Schutz: Hi there. My name is Rob Schutz and I’m the founder of Chirp Guide. I’m from Northern Virginia (just outside of Washington, DC) and went to Penn State University before returning back to the DC-area for 5 years to work in healthcare consulting. I
moved to NYC in 2008 to follow my now wife, and launched my first business, What’s the Deal, a daily deal company, shortly after. After seeing incredible growth and building our full-time staff to four, I sold WTD to kgbdeals in April of 2011, where I then stayed on for one year to run the kgbdeals US Marketing and User Acquisition team.
After finishing my work with kgbdeals in April of 2012, I’ve worked on a variety of consulting projects in NYC (a video game company, some curriculum building, etc) while working on my newest company, Chirp Guide, in parallel.
In my free time, my wife and I volunteer for Stray From the Heart, a local dog rescue organization. I’m active in Big Brother Big Sisters (BBBS) of NYC, and like taking my dog, Ernesto, for long walks.
CM: Chirp Guide is a virtual directory for Twitter chats. How did you come up with this idea?
RS: Chirp Guide serves as not only a directory for Twitter chats, but all live-tweeting that takes place over Twitter.
The idea was sparked last year when my wife was watching Andy Borowitz live-tweet a debate. I wasn’t yet familiar with the concept of live-tweeting and was fascinated that there was no central resource of information available to find out who else was live tweeting that event. How could this be? Several months of research later, I decided it made sense to build this ‘TV Guide for Live-Tweeting’ as a way to help user curate the Twitter firehose.
CM: How many people have been involved in the venture and how did you meet?
RS: I used a variety of contractors to put together the technology and design for the website and work with a few part-time employees who help promote the brand and put together content for the website. One of my part-time staff members, Scott, was an intern back in the What’s the Deal days! So, I’ve cultivated my contacts through the years to help build my company.
CM: How does Chirp Guide work? Could you give us a quick overview of the service? And what makes it different from a tool like CalTweet?
RS: Chirp Guide serves as TV Guide for live-tweeting and Twitter chats. Users can visit the site and view a list of popular live-tweeters and events, along with the most popular searches taking place on the site.
We also have pre-built streams with multiple live-tweeters (i.e. http://chirpguide.com/streams/1244) that are curated by Chirp Guide. Users have the ability to view a pre-built stream of event live-tweeters, build their own stream from scratch, or add/remove live-tweeters based on their preferences.
Again, we’re providing the ability for users to identify and consume high-quality, relevant content that originates from Twitter. This can be for a favorite reality TV show you watch each week, to follow tweets about your favorite football team during games, live popular culture events like Awards Shows or to follow major news stories.
Those who are live-tweeting can register their own events at http://chirpguide.com/events/new, giving them access to the Chirp Guide community and providing free exposure to our highly-engaged user base.
For Twitter Chats, we provide an easy-to-navigate site that lets users identify when a Twitter chat takes place and who will be moderating that chat.
CM: You launched Chirp Guide earlier this year. How have people responded so far?
RS: The reaction thus far has been outstanding. It’s quite clear that Chirp Guide helps fill a glaring void in the Twitter ecosystem – people just can’t find what’s relevant to them and provides high quality content. The Twitter firehose can be overwhelming, at times, so we aim to help create a single resource for finding relevant, high-quality chats and live-tweets, regardless of the vertical. And since users can register their own events, the ecosystem becomes even more community driven as it grows. We’re gotten lots of positive support and encouragement from reporters, TV networks, and casual Twitter users, alike.
In addition to casual users, we’re had interest from major TV networks who register the live-tweeting that takes places on their shows. Networks like History Channel, A&E, and Lifetime, all register their live-tweeting on Chirp Guide.
CM: Which categories usually attract the most visitors?
RS: Reality TV, Twitter Chats, Breaking News (ie: #RightToWork protests), and political debates have been far and away our most popular and active categories.
CM: How can people use Twitter chats to promote themselves and their events successfully?
RS: It’s very easy, and the results can be practically instant. People can use both Twitter Chats and live-tweeting to successfully promote their brand and event. A recent study from Twitter showed that live tweeting an event, for instance — can increase your engagement 50 percent more than your expected baseline. This leads to a spike in followers and mentions.
The best part about Chirp Guide is that it provides a single resource for live-tweeters and Twitter Chat moderators to register their content. These events are taking place regardless – why not take 10 seconds to register that event and get some additional (free) exposure?
CM: What’s next for Chirp Guide?
RS: We’re in the process of working with more networks and partners to build out the content side of Chirp Guide. In addition, we’re actively building our user base and incorporating feedback we receive on how to enhance the website to make it most useful. A mobile application will be released in early Spring 2013.