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Cheltenham – where Café Society meets Social Media - a guest blog by Betti Moser

We asked our friend Betti Moser to blog about her recent move to Cheltenham. I noticed that when she got there she kept talking about all the local people she had met through Twitter! I thought – networking, social media – this is a worth blogging about! Here is her story – from now on in Betti’s words!

When I moved to Cheltenham in April last year, I expected to find a genteel town on the edge of the Cotswolds, perhaps a bit touristy, perhaps a bit countrified, maybe even a bit fuddy-duddy. So, I was surprised when what I did find was urban buzz and a hotbed of creative talent, web designers, PR folks and social media aficionados…

It all started with a few friends on Twitter asking me how the move went, and what life was like in my new home town. So I tweeted back, saying how lovely Cheltenham was and how glad I was we had moved here.

Having mentioned the word “Cheltenham” in my tweet, I suddenly found my Twitter following swelled by lots of people from the local area. Every time I went on Twitter, I had been added to another couple of lists called “Cotswold business”, “Gloucestershire people”, “Chelt-Soc”, “Gloucestershire Tweeps” and similar.

“Oh, cool,” I thought, “I can get to know people in my new neighbourhood without even having to leave my desk!”

Social Media Cafe Cheltenham
So I started following back and exploring some of my new followers’ lists and other connections. Soon I started chatting to these people on Twitter. And then, of course, there were the real-world gatherings:

  • There’s the Cheltenham Social Media Café, organised by Rachel Pictor (@Pictors_Pen) and Chris Roberts (@solutionmania).
  • Then there’s the Foursquareforum, organised by Jonathan Pollinger (@jonnop) who also gives talks and masterclasses on using Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare for business. More on this here.
  • The #meet140 apparently started out in Cheltenham too, or at least it was started by @Chris_Hall1, who is based in Cheltenham.
  • And, of course, Cheltenham also has its own Jelly, which takes place once a fortnight at the Norwood Arms in Leckhampton and is organised by Howard Moorey (@hojomo).

So, from connecting to all these people on Twitter, real connections with real people soon followed.
UK Jelly
And there is more – from special events to deals and freebies to be had through Twitter and Foursquare. For example:

  • On 21st August 2010, the “Foursquarestival” was held – a treasure hunt where the different teams scored points by following a list of cryptic clues to identify different places about town and then checking in at these places on Foursquare. The weather didn’t play ball, but those who took part had a great time nevertheless.
  • Cheltenham’s own Foursquare Superswarm attempt took place on 9th October 2010, to coincide with the Cheltenham Literature Festival. Slightly disappointingly, a team from London had pipped us to the post two days earlier in achieving the UK’s first ever Foursquare Superswarm, but, to their credit, the organisers of the London Superswarm did travel all the way to Cheltenham to join us for our attempt. We managed just under 120 people – not quite a Superswarm, but considering that Cheltenham only has a population of 110,000, that’s still over 0.1% of the population! There’s a video about the event here
  • Then there is the #GlosBiz hashtag, invented by Adrian Malpass (@AdrianEXG), which is now being used widely to promote local businesses in Gloucestershire. And it’s also taken off in other parts of the world. Read the full story here.
  • Finally, thanks to the efforts of just a handful of people, notably @jonnop, @hojomo and @Glos365, Cheltenham probably has the highest density anywhere in the UK of Foursquare deals at local pubs and cafés, from free coffee or cake just for checking in, to free steak dinners once a week for the mayor. And discounts or freebies are also often to be had simply by following local food outlets on Twitter or RT’ing competition tweets.
  • Coming up this year, apart from the ongoing social gatherings already mentioned, is the Cheltenham Twestival on 24th March, which is part of a wider global Twitter event called Twestival, and will raise funds for the local charity, Grow.

Cheltenham Twitterati
So, in summary, the Cheltenham social media scene is great for meeting and getting to know real people in real life, socialising, finding local businesses, recommending local businesses – and even getting free lunches and discounted meals! What more can you ask for?

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  1. Hotel Cheltenham

    There are many social events, such as this one cropping up all over the country.
    Thanks for this great information.