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Network World - Atul Jha likes to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest in the tech world; after all, that's part of his job as a consultant and technology evangelist for CSS Corp., which is co-headquartered in Silicon Valley and India.
But living in the southeastern urban center of Chennai, India, Jha doesn't necessarily get the chance to have a lot of face-to-face meetings with users, customers, analysts and other techies. So, he makes do using alternatives, and one of his platforms of choice is Twitter.
Jha is a regular contributor to a number of Twitter Chats, which are real-time discussions, usually at a recurring day or time, focused on a particular industry or interest, according to Katie Keating, IBM's cloud social business manager. IBM has been hosting a Twitter chat about cloud computing, using the hashtag #CloudChat, since 2011; a recent Twitter Chat about OpenStack generated more than 1 million impressions, IBM says.
Twitter Chats seem to be all the rage on the microblogging site. Vendors, social media experts, regular users, customers, analysts, journalists and just about anyone can join in on the conversations, which range from a variety of topics. There are Twitter Chats on any number of subject areas, but in the technology industry, they seem to becoming more and more popular.
"It's really interesting to see how social media has evolved over the past couple of years," says Christine Needles, senior director of global communications at CA Technologies, and one of the organizers of the company's biweekly #CloudViews Twitter chat. Just a few years ago Twitter seemed to be a niche platform, but today, Needles says it's become mainstream. "It's definitely grown up in terms of maturity," she says. "There are a lot of great thought leaders and users making some really interesting connections."
For people like Jha, Twitter and Twitter Chats are a perfect fit. Jha has connected with vendors and analysts, and uses Twitter to stay in touch with people he meets at trade shows and industry events. More specifically, Twitter Chats offer him a way of meeting and engaging with new people, hearing ideas and perspectives from industry leaders, and giving him an opportunity to share his thoughts. The real-time interactive nature of the platform makes it great for staying up-to-date on the latest and greatest in industry trends, he says, while providing users with direct access to vendors and industry influencers.