Twitter #Chats Are a Win-Win

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What’s with all these hashtags and chats and what’s in it for me? Twitter chats present an incredible opportunity to learn, grow and network for an array of followers: experts in the field, curious newbies, bloggers, brands and even for those who just want to put their two cents in.

There are an endless selection of chats to choose from, ranging from technology, travel, business, parenting and the list goes on (literally, here). As a self proclaimed foodie, I wanted to focus on the food chats because I have first hand experience in joining in on the fun.

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The Twitter chat structure is quite easy to follow, which makes it accessible to all those who are interested. Each chat has a fixed day and time each week and usually sends out individual reminders to involve the largest audience possible. Experts may even use Tweet Chat to monitor multiple chats. Chats usually last one to two hours, sometimes starting with introductions that encourage blog/site promotion. Questions are updated approximately every 5 minutes and participants are asked to label the response according to the question (ex. A3 for Q3), followed by the chat’s hashtag. Active participants may find themselves gaining a significant amount of followers, as well as further continuing the conversations even after the chat is over.

Two of the most popular food chats on Twitter are #FNIChat and #Foodiechats. #FNIChat (@FoodiesNiteIn) takes place every Monday at 4PM EST, founded and hosted by @CookingwCaitlin (10,000+ followers). #FoodieChats (main handle @FoodieChats, with multiple handles for major cities) takes place every Monday from 8PM – 10PM EST, founded and hosted by @steveGOgreen (~26,000 followers).

This weekly ritual is a fantastic way to gain followers and many “famous” bloggers and brands are glued to their computers/cellphones for the duration of the chat, capitalizing on this networking opportunity. Large chats usually have multiple hosts to get the word out, which presents a huge occasion for brand awareness.

Speaking of brand awareness, the aspect I find most fascinating about this community is the possibility for brands to sponsor and participate. I joined in on the #FNIChat pasta chat with Barilla and was pleasantly surprised when they retweeted one of my tweets. More brands should be in on these conversations, whether it be as a sponsor, contributor or a listener to understand the needs of customers and the market. Although most of the audience is American, there is an international presence and it would be nice to see some more Italian tweeters in the chats! It would be beneficial for some prominent bloggers and brands to get together and start a chat in Italian, creating dialogue opportunities in the local market. And when that day comes, I’ll have my hashtag ready…

(Photo credit: socialmediacontractors.com123rf.com)

Eidos tweet: Get your hashtags ready in order to grow, learn and spread brand awareness. 

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