Twitter has a wonderful community of travel-related folk - bloggers and bookers, airlines and tour operators. In recent years I have built up a great list of people I follow and in return received a respectable list of followers.
While I can use a hashtag with relative proficiency and can usually get what I want to say into 140 characters, I am still learning how to make the most of Twitter, which at the same time, is evolving.
Over time I became vaguely aware of tweets cropping up in my feed that started with A3 or A1 and I wondered what was going on. It turns out that the letter A stands for answer and the number that comes after it relates to a series of questions on a Twitter chat. My interest piqued, I decided to learn more and this is what I discovered.
Twitter chats are a great way for like-minded users to get together and share ideas and experiences on a given subject. They are often organised by one person or an organisation, while in some circumstances they can involve collaboration between a couple of parties.
Generally a chat will be arranged for a specific time, when the organisers will start posting their questions. Each question will begin with a Q and the corresponding number. A hashtag allows all of those on the same chat to find each other's answers to the questions and learn from them.
Why this works so well with travel
It's almost as if Twitter chats were invented with travel in mind. After all, everyone loves sharing their travel experiences, tips and stories with those who have the same passion. Being able to add pictures to Twitter also helps to enhance its effectiveness with regards to the subject of travel.
So everyone just jumps in and answers questions about travel?
The world of travel Twitter chats is actually very well organised. While there are lots of different chats focusing on broad areas, such as round-the-world travel or food, these topics are then divided further each week. Prior to a chat, the organiser will disclose the theme for the coming conversation. This could be to do with travelling solo or the best delicacies to try in Europe.
Choosing a travel chat to join revolves around your sub-interests within the world of travel. This way you can get fully involved, sharing your knowledge and tapping into a mine of useful information from fellow enthusiasts.
Why get involved in a chat?
My experience from joining a Twitter chat was that it was a really nice way to enjoy the sense of community that such an exercise engenders. I could show off my expertise in certain areas and increase my knowledge by reading the posts of others.
I also got a whole load of new followers out of it and what is more, they were from very relevant accounts. Genuine followers who are interested in what you tweet about and like to engage are worth their weight in social media gold, making the exercise very worthwhile.
Not only that, but I also found some really interesting people to follow myself, perking up my Twitter feed no end. Building up such a database could be particularly useful for bloggers, companies or travel organisations looking to collaborate in the future. Here are lots of like-minded people with a whole range of experiences to tap into.
The #TravelSkills Twitter chat is the only one I have taken part in so far, but it is an exercise I intend to repeat in the future. I would encourage others to get involved too, as it is a great way to show you are an authority in the world of travel to interested parties.
Travel chats to get involved with
There are so many Twitter travel chats out there, it would be impossible to list them all, but here is a selection.
#TOTT - Travel Talk on Twitter
#RTWChat - Round The World
#TravelSkills - all things travel-related
#RTTC - Responsible Travel Twitter Chat
#foodtravelchat - for foodies
#luxtravelchat - for those who like to travel in style
#culturetravchat - culture and travel
A number of other chats have become all day events and are less formal than those above. Simply tag your tweets with the following hashtags on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and look at what other people are posting from all over the world.
All day chats:
There are also travel chats about nearly every aspect of the topic, from solo travel and luxury travel to vegan travel and combining cycling with travel, so go out and find the one that interests you.