A Brazilian pop star, Hollywood celebrities and an agricultural speaker are side-by-side in the race for an internationally-recognized social media award.    Mashable, The Social Media Guide, announced the nominees for the 2009 Open Web Awards today and Certified Speaking Professional Michele Payn-Knoper was one of the top five nominees  for Twitter User of the Year. There are over two million "tweets" sent daily on the micro-blogging site Twitter and celebrities attract the largest number of followers, so agriculture's representation on this list is an exciting opportunity for the agrifood business. Payn-Knoper was nominated by members of an agricultural community, “#AgChat”, which Payn-Knoper founded in April.  

AgChat is a weekly moderated conversation on Twitter for people in the business of raising food, feed, fuel, fiber.  It is a virtual venue for participants on Twitter to discuss issues impacting agriculture, such as mainstream media coverage, sustainability, communications, agronomy, animal welfare, USDA programs and perceptions of farming. Payn-Knoper and the group also created the monthly FoodChat designed to provide farmers and consumers with a forum to discuss issues in which they connect. In fact, supermarket guru Phil Lempert participated as a special guest in FoodChat on November 17. 

Mashable is hosting voting through December 13.

AgChat is held weekly on Tuesday evenings from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. eastern via a “streaming” Twitter feed.  A sister chat, known as “FoodChat,” takes place on the third Tuesday of each month, in lieu of AgChat, and is tailored more specifically to the interests of consumers, nutrition professionals, foodies and influencers of food choices. FoodChat gives its followers an opportunity to "meet a farmer" or ask questions of those in agriculture.

Chats begin with 15 minutes of networking, followed by 4-7 questions the community sends to the moderator in advance on the topic of the week. The chat is fast-paced, insightful and, often, colorful. The final 5 minutes is reserved for “pitching.”  Participants can plug their blog, site, product or ask for feedback on a business related idea.

Source: Ag News Center