Tim Walker wrestles with how much learning is too much, in this tweet from 2008.

Tim Walker wrestles with how much learning is too much, in this tweet from 2008.

One of my favorite ways to learn new things and network is through Twitter chats;  a bunch of people get on Twitter at the same time, use a single hashtag to tie the discussion together and spend about an hour in a Q&A format with a specific topic, or sometimes a more free-form “open mic.”

For example, #tourismchat is one of the ways that we at Tourism Currents stay on top of destination marketing trends and meet new people in tourism and hospitality.

Update: we now have a Tourism Currents list of travel and tourism Twitter chats

At the TBEX 2013 travel blogging conference in Toronto May 31 – June 2, I gave a presentation about how brands and organizations are using Twitter chats to grow communities and connect with customers.

It might surprise many to know that people are paid to run chats (sometimes called “Twitter parties”) – everything from US$100-250 to promote, organize and run a single chat, to about US$500 for a chat plus a sponsored blog post, to US$3000-4500 and up for a full-blown branded chat with promotion/marketing, the chat itself, sponsored post(s) and then a report and statistics package provided after the event.

Chats are a lot of work (I should know – I founded and run #awcchat for the Association for Women in Communications) so I’m all for compensation when it’s a commercial venture. However, I also spent a few minutes of the TBEX presentation talking about how I think we need to take our foot off of the marketing gas pedal sometimes.

I did not get on Twitter in September 2007 to listen to a bunch of sales pitches, and I feel strongly that we would all be well-served by exercising caution before turning every social channel into another doggone “sales funnel.”

Below is my presentation slide deck, including a variety of chats that I think bring value to their communities. I also plan to set up a page on Tourism Currents listing all of the travel- and tourism-related chats that I can find, with their scheduled days and times; will update here with the link when it’s done.

Kudos to all the chat founders and organizers, and thanks TBEX for the opportunity to speak.

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