I spoke about tweetups recently on the Twooting podcast. I’ve added the studio video clip of that interview below.
Twitter is a great tool for connecting with people and staying in touch. But nothing beats getting to know people face-to-face. I am fortunate to live in a metropolitan area with an active Twitter community that holds regular meetups, or to use the Twitter-appropriate term: tweetups.
It’s really easy to organize a local tweetup. Here’s some ideas for you based on what happens in my local Twitter community.
In Phoenix, we have three active Friday night tweetups every week, with rumors of two more starting up. They started from a couple of coffee geeks wanting to get together for coffee after work on Friday. The number of people grew and eventually, the group started off having coffee and ended up going out for beers. Soon, there were people who just wanted to join up at the beer phase. Then, people said it was too far from their homes, so they wanted to start one up in another part of town. From two guys having coffee, we now have more than 100 people meeting up at three locations every Friday night.
To me, the best part is that each local group has its own flavor. Each group takes advantage of types of places in their own neighborhoods. For example, the group centered in downtown Phoenix takes in the cool, hip downtown bars and night life, with no real end time on the event. The group in the east valley, on the other hand, hits all the best bistros and sports bars and focuses on dinner, with most people leaving between 8 pm and 9 pm.
Some weeks, I start at the dinner tweetup and then head downtown for some big city nightlife. People are always moving between the groups to get a chance to spend time with different people for a night.
Find Your Tweeps
To have a local tweetup, you need to have people on Twitter in the same geography who want to get together. All you need to start is two people! Figure out who else in your Twitter community lives in your geography and start talking with them about the idea of a tweetup. Have them talk to the people in their community, and let it build.
It helps to organize your tweetup with a hashtag. Hashtags have a long history on Twitter, but all you need is a code or an acronym with a #. For example, in Phoenix we have Phoenix Friday Nights (#pfn), East Valley Friday Night (#evfn), and West Valley Friday Nights (#wvfn) active now. The hashtag becomes the element that ties together all tweets. Decide on your hashtag and use it every time you tweet about your event. Anyone interested in the event can use the Twitter search to find information using your hashtag.
Pick Your Venue
When you are starting out and your group is small, you can take your event to pretty much any place you want. Here are a few guidelines for starting out:
- Provide a variety of options. Make sure the place offers a wide variety so different people can find something they like. If you focus on drinks, pick a place with a lot of options including alcohol. If you focus on food, pick a place with variety in the menu.
- Pick a place with easy access. If people have to walk 4 blocks because the parking lot is overflowing, they might give up instead of making the hike.
- Try to be centrally located. If you want to pull people from all over your city or town, start by picking a place close to the center.
- Avoid high crime areas. You want new people to the group to feel safe wherever you go.
- Make sure you can get separate bills. There’s nothing worse than trying to sort out a combined bill with people coming and going throughout the night.
As your group grows, as you start to need more space and attention from the venue, call them in advance to make arrangements. Some places will be more willing to work with you than others. Some places won’t let you reserve a large space, while others may be willing to give you a back room or another ancillary space.
Set Up The Tweetup
When you start out, you can just use Twitter to spread the word and collect RSVPs. However, as your group grows, I recommend that you start using an online event service to provide the event details and collect RSVPs. Here are three commonly used services, and there are many others.
If you haven’t used any of these services, they are fairly easy to use. Most require you to set up an account (free) before you can create an event.
There are several advantages to using these services. Most important, you don’t have to have a guest list. Anyone who finds the event listing online can attend. This allows your event to grow beyond your Twitter community. In our Phoenix tweetups, people come who are not on Twitter. After being asked a dozen times for their Twitter username, many of the non-Twitter users start asking questions about Twitter, and many of them have joined us on Twitter. We don’t think of our tweetups as Twitter recruiting tools, but that is how it turns out sometimes.
You can use Facebook to create your event, but you might want to wait to see if your attendees use Facebook before going that direction.
Here are some things you can do as your tweetup grows:
- Encourage your attendees to write reviews of the places you visit on sites like Yelp or CitySearch. Assuming you get good service, this would be a huge boost for the venue. In fact, when you start calling venues to schedule upcoming events, you can mention that they can expect Yelp reviews after the event.
- When you find a venue that everyone likes and that gives you good service, consider returning there. Or even making it your permanent home.
- Tell your local media about your tweetup. We have several members of the local media who attend our tweetups, and we’ve been covered in the local papers. [and here] Non-Twitter users are surprised to learn that people use Twitter to make real life contacts.
- Ask your venue for specials. If you expect 20 or more people, the venue may be willing to give you some happy hour sorts of specials. If you have been there before, and it was a good experience, you can expect the deals to get even better.
The important thing is to have fun! It’s much more fun on Twitter when you know the people in your community in real life. So take a risk, set up a tweetup, and meet new people.
Here’s my interview with Bo and Ryan on the Twooting podcast about tweetups.
In this podcast, I mention several of the Friday night tweetups in the Phoenix metropolitan area. You can find them by searching for their hashtags on Twitter: East Valley Friday Night (#evfn), Phoenix Friday Night (#pfn), and West Valley Friday Night (#wvfn). I also attend the East Valley Tuesday/Thursday Morning tweetup (#evtm).
Your turn: Do you have experience with tweetups? Please add your experience and wisdom in your comments to share with the community.