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28-10-2012, 10:58
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http://goodfoodgoodbeer.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/p1020505.jpg?w=300&h=225 (http://goodfoodgoodbeer.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/p1020505.jpg)Twitter; you gotta love it. I do; the amount of time I can spend on it drives my wife crazy, but as a tool to connect with the like-minded it’s unbeatable. One idea that I enjoyed watching unfurl on it this year was the way beer drinkers used it to create virtual pubs, communities and events. A hashtag and you’re away.
The most well-known of these would be #Openit, a night to break out those rare bottles you’ve been scared of drinking – a great idea, and one I*particularly*enjoyed. Phil Hardy – over at BeerSay – *has done great work with this in 2012, darting around Twitter like a ringmaster with a pint in his hand; corralling beer styles and people into meetings under hashtag invention.
His work with #SupSaison (http://beersay.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/whos-up-for-a-global-saisonathon/)*and**#IMPOFF (http://beersay.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/impoff-clash-of-the-titans-revisited/)* was to be commended, but he did wonders with #WhiteStout (http://beersay.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/small-acorns-and-all-that-whitestout/)- a night were he ‘stepped out’ (see previous post about this), rounded up some cheeses and collaborated with a local pub – The Bull’s Head – to simply try and get people involved, tasting, talking and enjoying. Initially the idea of Durham Brewery themselves, Phil took the baton and ran with it.
Now I know that people are going to be reading this, shaking their heads and saying ‘People should be drinking together in real life, not virtually’, and that’s right. Of course we should. However, another wonder of Twitter is that you do get to build up a mental image of someone you’ve never met; and I must say that the majority of Bloggers drink in pubs. A lot. The perception that bloggers only drink in our kitchens with a notebook and an SLR Camera to hand is*largely*unfounded, lazy, and borderline insulting. You only have to look at a timeline on a weekend to see that. Plus, I’ve met Phil on a number of occasions and I can tell you; he puts in the beer-miles.
Phil and The Bull’s Head should be proud; Twitter events like this are a fun distraction; something that fosters community of sorts instead of drinking alone and – perhaps most importantly – gets people talking about beer. Plus, it’s when social media excels and becomes genuinely useful rather than a distraction that the brilliance of the concept shines. There’s probably still room for breweries to do more with social media; competitions, giveaways, virtual tastings and the like can all be launched free of charge, all in the knowledge that your brewery can be placed square in the forefront of the attention of your followers.
I also massively enjoyed the Saturday Kitchen Hashtag assault (http://hardknott.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/saturday-kitchen-attack.html)*last last year;*can we do something like that again soon, please? Oh, and you can’t forget Twissup (http://refreshingbeer.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/manchester-twissup.html); I’ve been on two now and it’s great to share a real pint or three with people you’ve wanted to for a while. Twitter and the like has truly connected me with people; people I don’t yet but want to know a little better. People with the same interests – and not just beer.
Social Media indeed.

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