How to Use Tweetups as a Marketing Strategy

Social media goes beyond Facebook or Twitter.  It’s about connecting with people and developing relationships.  And sometimes those connections can be literally face-to-face!

Social media allows us to make connections faster and over greater distances, but there is power in social media to bring us closer to our neighbors, too.  One of the ways to do that is with a Tweetup.

What Is a Tweetup?

There are some things that just can’t be done with a 140-character limit.

A Tweetup is an in-person meeting of Twitter users. It has also become a colloquialism for any in-person networking event organized using social media.

For example, there are lots of events on Facebook that result in large parties. One I was recently involved with is Bring Gary Vaynerchuk to Chicago. The whole thing was organized through Facebook. The end result was to meet Gary in Chicago, along with a lot of other entrepreneurs, networkers and wine lovers.

How Tweetups Benefit Your Business

Obviously Gary benefited from the Facebook event by having a lot of attention drawn to his book. Did anyone else benefit?

On a personal level, Nancy S. (a friend, entrepreneur and wine connoisseur) was inspired by meeting Gary. Nancy has been hesitating about starting a new venture, and gained new confidence from the event.

Kelly Olexa, the event organizer, also benefited by hosting this event. She is now recognized as the person who brought Gary Vaynerchuk to Chicago, and she was able to network with a targeted audience during the event.

The nice thing about a Tweetup is that it doesn’t have to involve a celebrity. The key element to a successful Tweetup is having something people are interested in. Just think of parties you’ve had before and what made them successful. You’ll generally get more people to come when you give them a reason to be there.

We’ll cover how to organize a Tweetup in a second. For now, let’s take a look at three major benefits you get from a Tweetup:

Thought Leadership

This is when people recognize you as a leader and influencer of opinion. Kelly gained credibility as a thought leader by reaching out to Gary and getting him to come to Chicago.

Community-Building

By bringing people together around a common interest, you help them to get to know each other better. Whether it’s a backyard barbecue or a national convention, the most important aspect of any networking event is the conversations and relationships that develop.

Credibility-Building

The person who organizes a Tweetup is recognized as a leader and an expert. In Kelly’s case, her expertise is in media, getting the word out, and organizing events. She was able to capitalize on her complementary interest in wine to develop a major event with Gary.

Other benefits of hosting a Tweetup include:

  • Deeper relationships
  • New testimonials
  • Media exposure
  • Lead generation
  • Increased sales

Organizing a Tweetup

The first thing to understand about organizing a Tweetup is that it has already been done. There are lots of resources out there for you to use and make it easier for yourself.

Three of those resources are Meetup.com, Eventbrite and Amiando. They all have free elements to their service, and paid components as well.

Meetup allows you to join and participate for free. When you decide to become an organizer for events, there is a subscription fee for accessing those tools. You can subscribe for up to 6 months at a time for $12/month. You can charge for events through Meetup if you want to. They allow you to connect to Amazon Payments and PayPal to collect fees.

The great thing about Meetup is that it announces your new Meetup Group to the community. You just pick a topic, describe your Meetup, and you’re ready to go.

Eventbrite and Amiando are more like Ticketmaster. You can use them to organize events, and when you charge a ticket price they take a percentage of the sales.

Aside from using a service such as Meetup, Eventbrite or even Facebook to organize your event, there are three important organizing elements I want to draw attention to.

#1: Visit the Venue

Especially when you’re hosting the Tweetup at your business location, take time to look at the location from the perspective of guests. You might even ask a couple of friends to give you their opinions.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Will guests be able to have conversations without shouting at each other?
  • Is there enough light to read business cards?
  • Where will refreshments be?

#2: Use Name Tags

Everyone has an online handle, and it’s often different from their real name. Plan to have name tags that show both.

#3: Be Active During the Tweetup

To get the benefits of hosting a Tweetup, guests need to see you and meet you. Make a point of speaking to everyone and introducing yourself.

Stuart Foster wrote an excellent article for Mashable entitled Organize a Successful Tweetup. He outlines 17 things both to do and to avoid when planning and hosting a Tweetup. I suggest you print the article and keep it as a resource, but there’s something else you need to do first.

Networking Before a Tweetup

You’re going to have the most success by making sure you have lots of people to invite. To get a good crowd, you need two things:

  1. A local network (not huge – millions or even thousands – a couple of hundred people is plenty)
  2. A common interest

The common interest part is fairly easy, and it doesn’t have to be directly related to your business.

When the earthquake struck Haiti, you know a lot of business owners organized fundraising activities. You could easily use status updates, tweets, and email – even the telephone – to reach your network and tell them about an event like that.

The great thing about it is that everyone you tell is definitely going to tell a friend or two. Being able to help others gives everyone a good feeling.

You could be a hardware store owner and still find plenty of common interests for a Tweetup. In spring, organize an event around garden planting. For the do-it-yourself crowd, organize summertime events around barbecuing, deck installations, and landscaping.

Any time you’re stuck for an idea, just pick up the phone and call your best clients. Ask them what they’re interested in and would like to know more about. Finding a common interest is easy. Building a local network is a tiny bit more challenging. And I mean just a tiny bit because there are lots of tools to help you do it.

Naturally you’re going to start with the social media sites you already belong to. Twitter is an excellent one to use, and not just because Twitter developed Tweetups. It’s also because there are several applications and two features in Twitter designed to help. (If you don’t have a Twitter account, here’s an instruction booklet to get you started.)

One feature in Twitter is geotagging. Just login to your Twitter account and go to Settings. Check the box for Geotagging under Locations. Here’s a screenshot to show you what it looks like:

Twitter geotagging

For your own profile, turn geotagging on so other people can find you. For your network, spread the word about geotagging so it becomes easier for you to find other people.

The other feature in Twitter is its Search function. You can type a city and radius into the search field to find local Twitter users. For example, someone in Toronto could type:

Near:Toronto within:50mi

This is going to show you Twitter users living within 50 miles of Toronto.

Twitter local search results

You can see from the image above that a Twitter search gives you tweets along with who made them. That can be a lot of extra information to sort through. Fortunately, there are some great services out there that help you do the work. Two I particularly enjoy are Twellow and TwitterLocal.

Twellow is yellow pages for Twitter users. You can register for a free account, but you don’t have to be registered to use the service. Twellow is cool because it lets you search Twitter users in several ways. You can search by location, interest, name, and subject, to name a few.

It also has a neat feature called Twellowhood. It lets you zero in on any geographic location in the world. (Remember what I mentioned about geotagging?) You start by picking a continent, then a state or province. When you get to an area that’s small enough – say, Ontario, Canada – Twellowhood gives you a list of cities in that province.

The number beside each city is how many Twitter users are located there. Just click on a city and you’ll get a listing of every local Twitter user.

TwitterLocal is a little different. It’s an Adobe AIR application that you download to your computer.

Once installed, TwitterLocal allows you to filter tweets by location – similar to the Twitter search function I showed you. Obviously this is handy for watching the conversations happening in your area. It can be a great way to get ideas for which common interest to tap into for your next event.

In every case, your goal is to develop new relationships with people in your locale so they can attend your Tweetups.

Keep in mind that your own existing network can help you meet local people, too. Tell them what you are doing and ask your connections to help by introducing you to local people. I was surprised at the people I was introduced to through my own network.

Cooperating With Customers

Social media has become part of our cultural and marketing landscape. We’re also generally social creatures who enjoy meeting new people and making friends.

Hosting a Tweetup allows you to cooperate with your customers to give them three important benefits:

  1. They’re learning more about the common interest.
  2. Everyone gets to meet new people and be social.
  3. Guests develop a deeper relationship with you and your business.

Take your first step today. Pick a common interest and use Twitter to organize a Tweetup with 10 friends. That gives you a doable project with a safe audience. You can build from there.

Have you participated in tweetups? Post your experiences and questions below. And, even more importantly, come back to write about the experiences you have. Let’s make a conversation here that helps everyone build success with social media.

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About the Author, Conrad Hall

Conrad Hall is an international author, speaker and copywriter. He also contributes to Blog Critics & Community Marketing Blog. Visit his blog and sign up to get free updates. Other posts by »




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  • edgandia

    Great post, Conrad. Lots of good info here. I’ve been thinking about trying this to connect with local readers/fans of our book. Would like to hear ideas from you and others on best ways to do this when you work from home and don’t have access to a conference room. What are good alternate locations? Coffee shops, restaurants?

  • http://trinidarlin.blogspot.com/ Avi H

    Very relevant post. I have not yet organised a tweet up of my customers but would love to try soon. It’s definitely something to do this year!

  • http://www.MarketingProfessor.com/ Travis Campbell

    Great ideas here! Well done. Now it’s about putting it into action.

  • http://www.kettlewell.net Matthew Kettlewell

    In Grand Junction, CO we’ve been using the TwtVite service ( http://twtvite.com/ ) that is a free service and allows us to print out labels just like you were talking about.

    We used to have a Tweetup a couple times a month… now that springs here, it’s time for me to organize another one!

  • http://www.retailmarketingmaxim.co.uk/ Becki Rowe

    Great post! Really thorough. I have been wanting to organise a Tweetup for a while now but haven’t quite had the confidence to go ahead and do it. Having read this article it has just given me that final little confidence boost. Now I just need to choose a common interest….
    I know it is kind of obvious but I also think it is important to remember some really basic practicalities i.e what is likely to be the best time of day for your group of people? It may not be after work! Also, depending on the location is parking necessary? Train/underground access? etc etc

  • http://www.greatwildoutdoors.com/ Justin Rains

    I also use twtvite.com for my reservations. I have a monthly luncheon I put on and twtvite does a good job so far for me.

  • Ann Blackman

    Great post – a good summary of the basics of tweet-ups. Your addition of the information on TwitVite, Kettlewell, is very helpful. Thanks!

  • Sherry Lowry

    Ditch the popup approach. Irritating, and I agree with Lee Odden on Twitter today – a flag of desperation it seems you are waving with those.

    I’m signing up – but finding a more legit way to do it on your site. Get a clue, Social Media Examiner – disruptive techniques are not just dead, they are resented.

  • http://www.elementinvesting.com/ Element Investing

    It’s fascinating to think that social interaction can actually take place face-to-face!

  • http://twitter.com/legionairenow Legionaire

    Nice to know I’m not the only one! Esp. since I already am a subscriber.

  • http://bit.ly/googlemike Mike Fraietta

    You’ve inspired me. Organizing a chatroulette tweetup in Boulder asap. Going to need a big projector. – @MichaelFraietta

  • http://www.djnightlife.com DJ NightLife

    Facebook events is already not reliable for attracting people, can’t imagine how worse could be tweetups… Everytime I’ve checked for them near my city, there were only VERY FEW people attending.

    “Have you participated in tweetups? Post your experiences and questions below.” Same question: has someone ever succeeded in attracting more than 1 person with that?

  • http://bradproctor.com/ Brad Proctor

    Just wanted to share this with you guys. I lead a tweetup group in my city of Greenville, NC. I completely agree with everything said. Worth every second or dollar spent to get a tweetup organized.

    I speak from experience as I have seen first hand what such an organically formed meetup can do – I was offered a job because of my involvement.

    Our group has received attention from local media on several occasions and it continues to grow.

    If you have even thought about the idea of organizing a tweetup – simply DO IT. Two people may show but those two people could be your next clients, business partners or employees.

    You can check out our group here: http://greenvilletweets.com

    Hope this pushes some of you to at least try it. It is worth it.

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi Ed,

    Thank you for your comment. That’s a great question.

    The most important choices for meeting venues – meeting rather than networking – are that you have lots of natural light, and the environment needs to be fairly quiet. Of course, if you’re meeting in the evening then substitute good lighting for natural light.

    You want good light so you can read and make notes. It also makes reading faces and body language easier.

    Low noise levels mean you don’t have to raise your voice to be heard. That’s often a problem at networking events, but it’s a killer in a meeting.

    One place that’s handy is the library if your local branch has work rooms. For example, the Toronto Reference Library has small work rooms for two or three people. They’re great places to have casual, working meetings.

    My suggestion is that you avoid coffee shops. The tables are rather small, and most of the food available is sticky – not good for handling a pen, paper or a keyboard.

    My favourite places are real restaurants or diners. They have big tables, good light, and reasonable food prices. Just be fair to them by avoiding lunch or dinner rushes.

    Let me know if that answers your question, Ed. I’ll be happy to go into more detail if you want.

    Conrad

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi Travis,

    Like anything, start with a small action. You know…baby steps.

    Organise a tweetup between you and two or three friends. Use it to organise a party, or going to an event. Once you do it in a comfortable environment once or twice, it’s a lot easier to do it for a business related event.

    Conrad

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi Kettle,

    Absolutely! And be sure to toss in some outdoor activities.

    You can do anything you want for a tweetup – as long as your audience likes the idea. Maybe a picnic, organise a park clean-up day, or host a history walk through town.

    Conrad

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi Becki,

    You’re right on the money. And thank you for the compliment.

    Maybe start with something small – organise a couple of friends to go out for drinks after work. I found it a lot easier to start with my friends because I knew they would say yes. Once I got some confidence, it was a lot easier to organise an event for business.

    Conrad

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi Sherry,

    On the note of popups…I was at Armand Morin’s Live Event this past weekend, and he went through the changes Google has made. Here’s what was interesting:

    Anyone using Google Adwords to drive traffic to a site that uses popups – any kind of popup – is now violating Google’s terms of service. The site itself is fine, it’s just the person using their Adwords account that can get in trouble.

    Conrad

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi Element,

    Thank you! YES!!

    I’ve been saying for a while: social media has been with us since the first caravan crossed a wide open space.

    Customer Evangelism is just the 21st century phrase for Word-of-Mouth.

    You are right on the money! Especially when you consider most business owners can only realistically serve people within 10 or 20 miles of their business. The whole trend of geotagging, real-time search, and local search is fantastic for small business owners.

    That’s what we’re focusing on for the “friends, followers and Customer Evangelists” upcoming book tour. Watch for more on that – it’s a 40 city tour planned for this summer.

    Conrad

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi Michael,

    Staples has good projectors at reasonable prices, but you might not need one. Check with your library, or a local college first. If your meeting is free, you can often use their facilities for free, too.

    Conrad

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi DJ,

    Well, at this point there are 14 comments here. That’s better than 1.

    As for tweetups, yes, I’ve attended gatherings of up to 50 people. The Facebook event Bring Gary Vaynerchuck to Chicago was even larger.

    The key to having a successful tweetup, Facebook event, or any other party is the same: have a group of people that like hanging out with you. Good relationships = good results.

    Conrad

  • mardidean

    If you are in Sydney then the following tweetups will be of interest:
    Check out this site for a collection of tweet ups. http://thelatteguy.com/

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi Brad,

    That’s cool! Way to go!

    And you’re in Greenville – Greenville-Spartanburg is #35 in the top 100 markets in the U.S. I’d say you’re doing well to attract such attention in a big marketplace.

    Congratulations on getting the media involved. That means you’re listening to the market and giving them what they want. I’ll check out your group, and I’d like to connect with you. Please look me up on Facebook or LinkedIn (TheConradHall). I”m scheduling guests for my BTR show Social Media Voices of Influence (for May and beyond), and would like to include you.

    Conrad

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Thank you to everyone for your comments. I’ve subscribed to comments by e-mail, so please feel welcome to put any questions or ideas you’d like to share. Together, we can make tweetups easier for everyone.

    Conrad

  • http://bradproctor.com/ Brad Proctor

    Conrad – We are actually Greenville, NC not SC… Very common mistake considering there are Greenvilles in almost every state.

    We are a much smaller city than Greenville, SC but we believe we can have just as much influence. Which is why a couple of friends (met via tweetups) have decided to host a free conference in our area geared towards the everyday business owners – not social media “experts”. It is called Shift. All details are here: http://cityshift.org

    I will definitely look you up and look forward to connecting.

    -Brad

  • http://leslie@justasmalltowngirl.us Leslie McLellan

    What perfect timing ~ thanks so much! I’m planning our very first Lake Arrowhead, CA Tweetup in early May so this article is a keeper and has given me even more ideas!!

  • http://twitter.com/krrish Chris Coldewey

    Hi Conrad – I was so inspired by tweetups where fans have convinced people to come to town (e.g. Gary Vaynerchuk, Paul Tompkins) that I created a site specifically for that. Check out Redrovr.com as another resource to rally folks together and organize tweetups around a particular person.

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi Brad,

    Thank you for the link. I’ll follow that up. I like the idea of everyday people making use of social media.

    When it comes to social media “experts,” they’re popping up like tulips in spring. Personally, I brand myself as the un-expert. How can anyone possibly be an expert on something that is changing as rapidly as social media?

    Here’s a slogan: run into a social media expert today. Then back up and run into him again. ;-)

    I apologise for getting the states wrong. I’m so excited by the tour we’re organising that I get a little tunnel vision.

    Conrad

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi Leslie,

    Terrific! And thank you. Please feel welcome to send any questions you have. I’ll do my best to answer them for you.

    Conrad

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi Chris,

    Yes, thank you. I’ll check that site out and post another comment here to share my opinion. I’ll also check with Mike and the editors to see if we can do a story on all the sites that have been mentioned in comments.

    Then maybe a follow-up piece on tweetups in general to showcase some of the success stories everyone has talked about here. What does everyone think? Would you like to see those two kinds of articles?

    Conrad

  • diego boado

    Great comments Conrad! Thanks for the advice. :)

    I am not yet considering organizing a tweetup, but your advice certainly helps me prepare before going to a conference and meeting people with the same interests.

    I am heading out to London soon and will definitely use the advice you mentioned above prior to my trip. That way I have everything laid out for me once I get there.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi Diego,

    That’s a great way to use Twitter. Conferences often a Twitter stream happening around the conference, and around presenters.

    Follow the tweets being made, and look at the conversations happening. Who is saying something relevant to you? Obviously you should join the conversation, and it gives you something to talk about at the conference.

    You can follow-up with people, and already have the ice broken.

    Great stuff, Diego. That’s an excellent way to – as Jeff Herring says – Go Use This Stuff.

    Conrad

  • JohnBergdoll

    Thanks, Conrad. I just did my first TweetUp using EventBrite. With the help of @BostonTweetUp I learned some of the finer points in the pre-planning, the invitation and followup.

    Twitter @JohnBergdoll

  • http://www.conradhallcopywriting.com Conrad Hall

    Hi John,

    Congratulations. I’m glad your first Tweetup went well for you.

    Please feel welcome to share some of the tips and tricks you picked up along the way.

    Sincerely,
    Conrad Hall

  • http://JoselinMane.com JoselinMane

    DJ NightLife,

    My first tweetup had 400+ people http://megatweetup.eventbrite.com/ it was the biggest in Ma history, although tweetups have only been around since Mar 21 2007 http://www.scottmonty.com/2007/03/be-ball-danny.html (as you can tell by the post @ScottMonty coined the term)

    Size doesn’t matter more than Theme ie why are you doing a tweetup.

  • http://JoselinMane.com JoselinMane

    Conrad,

    Great post. John thanks for the shout out!

    I recently wrote a post that got featured on Eventbrite http://blog.eventbrite.com/boston-tweetup which had several of the same points you highlight in your post.

    Tweetups are the Social in Social Media.

    I found that there are 5 phases to tweetups/events in general.

    1. Pre-Planning
    2. Planning
    3. Pre-event
    4. During event
    5. Post event

    The better 1-3 are the easier 4 & 5 are.

    It would be great to chat w/you more about the Boston TweetUp scene.

    http://twitter.com/JoselinMane
    http://twitter.com/BostonTweetUp
    http://BostonTweetUp.com

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