Now that's a LOT of Tweeple!
Photo Credit: Abbyladybug

Wrong!
You know the saying, “build it and they will come” well, we all know how that works out and now it seems there’s a new saying, call your meetup a Tweetup and they will come. Just like the first saying, businesses and people need plan accordingly and don’t expect by calling your event a Tweetup that the Twitter community will embrace your meetup and show up tweeting about your product or services.

What’s a Tweetup?
Oh, if you’re wondering what a Tweetup is, according to urbandictionary.com a Tweetup is A group of friends on Twitter (social network) that are planning to meet up, that’s it, that’s all. But with the success of Twitter in the news, TVs shows and being used by music artist and other celebrities Twitter has now caught the eyes of brands to host Tweetups as a way to reach various communities to market their services offline and locally to potential buyers. Tweetups can consist of two people and can be held anywhere from coffee shops to businesses to parks. There are sites now that focus on Tweetups such as: http://tweetups.com

Flickr Photo Download: Triangle Tweetup
Tweetup Photo by Jeff Cohen

Past Tweetup Success
You may be asking why am I posting about this now, well, in the past few weeks I have been approached by a few national brands, local malls stores and individuals about hosting a tweetup. It seems that people have started to notice the success we have had with Triangle Tweetups ( http://triangletweetup.org ) in North Carolina. Some of our past Triangle Tweetup numbers have been 150, 250 to 180 attendees with our recent partnership with the North Carolina State Fair to host a Deep Fried Triangle Tweetup at the State Fair. What’s unique about those Tweetups except for the @NCStateFair tweetup is they were not directly linked to another event/conference. There were just planned well and organized to bring the community together to learn and network with the common interest being Twitter.

Brands, Businesses and Tweetups
As I stated earlier, brands / businesses are now hosting tweetups to reach out to various communities offline to market their product and services. There’s nothing wrong with that but I would like caution companies looking to host Tweetups because it’s the new “cool” thing to do without any research. Especially if you’re trying to host a Tweetup in a different location where you may not have a local connection or network reach. But even then I would do a lot of market/Twitter research to see how the local community uses twitter and with various Twitter tools available it’s easy to find users by location now. Also look at how locations view your brand before you host a Tweetup. The last thing you want is to have a tweetup and all the attendees are showing up to complain about your product or service.

Social media event marketing 101
So you still want to plan a Tweetup? If you’re an individual and just want to meet for coffee, lunch or just to catch-up with local tweeple, have at it and enjoy. I think I’m meeting a few friends at a coffee shop in Raleigh for a #busybeetweetup in  a few weeks myself. But if you’re a company and you want to host a Tweetup to announce your grand opening or your new product / service or to show that you “get social media” I would start with the following before I decided to host a Tweetup:
1. Use a custom twitter location search or Twitter Grader to find local Twitter users and build a relationship with them.
2. Plan at least 30 to 60 days ahead to market your event.
3. Join other location based social networks such as Whrrl, brightkite, foursquare, gowalla, and Tri-Out (NC only) and connect with the community there.
4. Find the right loaction with wifi and good parking.
5. Use a Tweetup planning sites like: http://twtvite.com or http://tweetvite.com
6. Sponsor existing Tweetups held by the community that can serve as the same purpose as hosting a tweetup
7. Ask yourself the following: Why does my company want to plan a Tweetup
What is my goal for planning a Tweetup and how are we going to measure the success of the Tweetup

No guarantees
With that being said you could simply hire companies or experienced individuals to plan Tweetups for your organization and talking with these individuals you may find out that a Tweetup may not be something you should invest your time or money into at the moment just because it’s the cool thing to do. Yes, hire someone because even though Twitter is free but peoples time, network and expereince is not. Still there are no guarantees, even after you have done your market research and planned accordingly that after the doors open and tweeple arrive that you will convert a tweetup attendee to a new customer.

My experience?
I’m co-organizer of the Triangle Tweetup in Raleigh, NC ( http://triangletweetup.org ) and partner of OurHashtag where we plan community events using social media. I planned the first tweetup in North Carolina with 5 people in December of 2007 and have planned tweetups up to 250 attendees in 2009. I have also co-organized first time tweetups in Atlanta, GA, Charlotte, Raleigh Wilmington & Durham, NC & Harlem, NY.

If you would like to plan a Tweetup or use social media to plan an event email us at contact@OurhHastag.com.

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