Boston Tweetup shares tips on how to host a successful Tweetup

We’ve received more and more questions about Tweetups and have seen the number of Tweetups on Eventbrite skyrocket over the past few months. So we sat down with an expert, Joselin Mane from Boston Tweetup, to get the scoop (twips) on how to throw a successful Tweetup.

For our readers who aren’t familiar with the term, what is a Tweetup?

Simply put, it’s an event that is primarily promoted on twitter, and allows people who have made connections through twitter to meet up and talk in person.

The majority of Tweetups are primarily social and are simply meant to connect like-minded people or those who wouldn’t normally have a chance to connect. For example recently in Boston there were a couple of Tweetups in celebration of Fashion week that connected Social media personalities with fashion consultants and local performers.

Initially, the majority of Tweetups were very spontaneous & easy to promote given the real time nature of twitter and the small amount people (tweeple) on twitter at the time.  Simply sending out a tweet to let people know that you were in the area was all that was needed for a successful Tweetup to happen. Organizing Tweetups today takes a bit more effort because there are so many tweets to sift thru on a daily basis. The Tweetups of today have be more organized and are sometimes planned months in advance.

What do you need to do to set up your own Tweetup?

Tweetup Must-Haves:

  • A Location. Preferably one with wifi or a place where people can tweet from. It’s great to tie location to your Tweetup theme.
  • A Theme. The biggest item to consider when putting together a Tweetup is its objective, goal and/or theme. The goal can be as simple as just getting together socially like #Roofup (largest Boston Tweetup to date 250+ people), however other creative ideas can include #BurritUp (people interested in a burrito tasting), #trustagents (book signing), #SMM09 (fashion show),  #LoveTheCool (performance based Tweetup), or #Scooterup (Tweetup to raise aware of a new scooter law in Boston).
  • A Hashtag. This will be helpful for people to comment on the event and easily promote event for you on Twitter. It is also a way for people that couldn’t make the event to find out what’s happening or what has happened at the event.  A hashtag is any word or phrase beginning with the character # (without spaces ie #thisiscool vs #this is cool). Twitter has been designed to separate hashtags for easy filtering and searching.  Twitter also keeps track of and lists the hashtags that are trending (hashtags that are used most frequently) and lists them on the twitter homepage.  For more info on hashtags review @Mashable article on the best use of #hashtags.

Tweetup Nice-to-Haves:

  • A sponsor. A sponsor can cover the cost of first drink, appetizers, giveaways, etc.
  • Name tags. Encourage people to put their twitter handle on name tags, this will make it easy for people to tag & connect with after the event is over.
  • A projector. Used in combination with a computer and a website like VisibleTweets, attendees can easily see all the tweets coming in from the event in real-time and depending on location can make a good backdrop for the event.
  • Photographer/Videographer. Make sure the photographer or videographer captures twitter names on nametags, this will make it easy for people to indirectly promote the event by sharing pictures when they see themselves in them. If you can’t get a photographer, just bring a camera!
  • Jar to collect business cards. This is primarily used for giveaways and to help follow up with people, but it is also a great way to take attendance and create a mailing list for your next event.
  • Giveaways or Prizes. Prizes should ideally be tied to the theme of the event, for example if it’s it a movie Tweetup having movie related prizes will complement the event, if it’s a retail clothes store Tweetup it would be great to have steep discounts on clothes purchased during the Tweetup. T-shirts are also good for almost every Tweetup.
  • Food/Drink Refreshments are always great for social events, and if they are complimentary, even better!
  • Handouts. If there is a follow up event, you can start promoting it. You can also collected event feedback via postcards.

What’s the best way to promote your Tweetup and get people to attend?

In promotion a Tweetup organizer’s two biggest allies are a twitter following and a registration page. By nature of the event, people will tweet about it, share it with their networks and spread the word. A great Eventbrite page that has all of the information people need to know about your event (I have used at least 9 different event planning & promotion sites and Eventbrite by far is the most complete solution for an event promoter & attendee).

Although there are many Eventbrite features that I like, here are just a few of the key elements that are most important for Tweetups:

  • Facebook connect and Twitter integration. This is great because the registered attendees indirectly act as promoters for the event by adding the event to their facebook wall and automatically tweeting about it.
  • Calendar integration. This feature is on the majority of event planning sites but it is extremely helpful especially for services like BostonTweetUp because it allows us to add events to our calendar and promote them, without needing to register for them.
  • Collect custom information. It’s great to collect and display attendees’ Twitter handles on your event page so that attendees can find each other on Twitter before and after the event.

So what does Boston Tweetup do?

Boston TweetUp is an event planning and promotion service that leverages the power of social media. We provide consulting services to help organizers strategically plan and organize the before, during and after Tweetup process to ensure they are as successful as possible. On the promotion side we aggregate Tweetups in a monthly calendar and host a weekly video show that highlights upcoming Tweetups in the Boston area. After major Tweetups we send out event polls to get a sense of what the attendees thought of the event. We are aworking to make BostonTweetup.com the central resource for Tweetups, as well as being the place for new media strategic event planning and promotions, not only for the Boston area but anywhere in the world.

In the Boston area we have already started aggregating all the services and resources for Tweetup hosts.  Some of the things we are going to list in our resources section will be Tweetup friendly locations, Tweetup guides, photographers, videographers, potential sponsors, and anything else they may need.  We are also looking at a ratings system that will let the community vote for the services of their liking. We of course have Twitter and Facebook pages as well.

On a more national level, we are creating blueprints that anyone can use to create a similar service in their area.  Here are a just a few our partner sites.

If anyone in starting such a service please email info[at]BostonTweetUp.com.

What are your top 3 Do’s and Don’ts for Tweetup organizers?

Do’s

1. Decide on the theme first. Once you decide what the theme and goal of the event is then everything else should fall into place.

2. Attend other people’s Tweetups. Develop relationships with other Tweetup hosts before you organize your own. They will be more inclined to not only go to your event, but help promote it for you too. An added benefit is that it’s a great learning opportunity to see how it’s done.

3. Document everything. Take pictures, record audio and video, even if you don’t end up using it. It’s much better to have and not use then to not have at all.

Don’t’s

1. Don’t forget the human element. Especially in promotion and gathering sponsors, other forms of communications besides twitter are important in building relationships and letting people know about your event.

2. Don’t change too many things once promotion begins. I highly recommend adopting the philosophy of measure twice cut once.  Take your time and think of a good theme, hashtag, custom eventbrite url, etc.  Remember once the event details have been tweeted it’s out there for the world to see.

3. Don’t neglect the details and be sure to plan ahead. Whether your Tweetup is big or small communicate this to your attendees. Let them know what to expect. Important points to cover on your event page include: Will there be food, is there parking, WiFi, is it kid friendly, is it political, will there be media present, etc. The more transparent you are about your Tweetup the better it will be for everyone involved.

See Tweetups on Eventbrite happening around the country:

Speed NeTwirking. Philidelphia, PA

FinchUp TweetUp. North Hampton, NH

Mass Technology Leadership Tweetup. Somerville, MA

Once a Month Mom Tweetup. Daytonm OH

The BIG Maine Tweetup. Portland, ME

Blog World Las Vegas Tweetup. Las Vegas, NV

Atlanta Chicks Tweetup and Networking Event. Atlanta, GA

Deep Fried Triangle Tweetup at the NC State Fair. Raleigh, NC

Lake Worth Tweetup #1. Lake Worth, FL

Bagel Tweetup 2. Bethesda, MD

Check out our Eventbrite Twitter Tutorial and this video of Joselin talking about Boston Tweetup: