A lot has happened to the hashtag since Chris Messina invented it in August 2007. The little # symbol started out labeling groups and topics. Today it aids authorities, promotes brands and events, and helps spread consumer complaints. And as the hashtag has evolved, so has Twubs.
The co-founders created the hashtag platform in 2009 to aggregate tweets, pictures and videos on a branded page after the successful sale of another company they built (360Hubs, Inc.). With a collective background in social software, it's no wonder Twubs' latest enhancement as of June is a free, API-compliant Twitter chat tool.
"We believe most social media is full of noise and irrelevance," says Tony Ferraro, Twubs' CEO and one of the four co-founders. "Hashtags create anchor points in conversation that allow for topic-based 'following' rather than people-based following."
Twubs' embed widgets bring the conversation to users' blog or website. "We really look at our users as partners. Their role is to consume, create and distribute content in the circles important to them," he says. "Our part is to make that all possible. As such, we really value feedback. We try to be very responsive to user requests and have been known to make changes to the software mid-chat, for example."
Clear Channel, iHeartRadio, Walmart, CBS RADIO, Fiserv and GE Capital are some of the companies who have used Twubs to encourage user engagement at live events and to increase brand impressions via the social media downstream of their constituents.
"By using Twubs during concerts and conferences, audiences are encouraged to participate in the conversation that exposes the brand to their social relationships," says Ferraro.
Others use Twubs to find people that are not following their Twitter handle that are talking about their brand, product, service or competitor. Then they can reach out and initiate a relationship.
Ferraro says Twubs users are asking for more archiving, analytics and tools. "We will continue to develop out each of our market verticals, live events, Twitter chat and embed widgets as well as invest in the single user."
In the meantime, Twitter chat organizers can create a public branded homepage for their chat and add it to a global calendar. Page users search the hashtag or browse a list of categories and subcategories to find the topic they want to tweet about or monitor. The Twubs platform separates the chat host's tweets from the other participants so it's easy to follow even if you jump in mid-way. The live event tools are free and simple to use as well.
In the next 90 days, "Twubs will deliver more social platform integration such as Instagram, a new 'timeline' product (essentially creates a time capsule of social content that is searchable by time), more Twitter chat features, a mobile application, a photo wall and, finally, a consumer user value," Ferraro says.
Social Startups is a weekly Social Media Today column written by Shay Moser about the newest and most innovative social companies. Look for the next installment next Wednesday morning. Logos by Jesse Wells.