Ten Tips for Hosting a Successful Tweetup

This post was initially published on BostInnovation on September 14, 2011. To read the original post there, click here.

There’s a palpable camaraderie among most people who use social media, a strong sense that we’re all in this together and out for the same things — new friendships, opportunities and experiences.

Unfailingly, we jump onto Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and our own blogs to listen and learn, chat and connect, educate and entertain, inform and inspire, publicize and promote.

Sure, you see a fair share of debate and dissent in social media. It’s not always sunshine and roses. But more often than not, you see a rousing demonstration of mutual respect and quid pro quo, the golden rule being put into practice.

That’s what I like about social media. More often than not, you can count on the crowd for inspiration and support. Like a big group hug, it’s reassuring, to say the least.

And that’s what I like about a Tweetup, too, where you’re surrounded by a small sea of kindred spirits, many of whom you’ve exchanged tweets with but have never met before in person.

If you haven’t been to one yet, a Tweetup is similar to any other networking event except that it’s promoted heavily via Twitter and the majority of those in attendance are social media zealots.

Many Tweetups have an agenda, of course — featuring guest speakers, entertainment, food, beverages, giveaways and more — but some are simply social gatherings of like-minded folks. What takes place there is left to the hosts’ discretion. They set the tone. They makes the rules.

The focus of the two Sudbury Social Tweetup events I co-hosted (with Phil Hollows, CEO of Feedblitz and author of “List Building for Bloggers“) at Bistro 20 in Sudbury this summer was mainly getting to know one another and talking about how each of us in the room uses social media. It felt good to see that there were so many others in the Sudbury area who share the same unbridled passion for these relatively new online communications platforms and principles. It was definitely a lot of fun.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far as co-host of the Sudbury Social Tweetup…

Ten Tips for Hosting a Tweetup

1. Choose the right date and location. Getting a critical mass of people to attend a Tweetup is more than half the battle, so you want to make it as convenient as possible for them to be there. Think of a cool hang-out, a place that’s easy to get to and popular with everyone. And take a good look at the calendar to make sure there are no major conflicts – holidays, competing events, etc. – with the date of your event.

2. Come up with a good hashtag. Because you’ll be relying so heavily on Twitter for promotion of your event, having a hashtag – a keyword or term, preceded by the # sign, used for search and categorization on Twitter – that stands out is important. Phil and I turned the name of our Tweetup into the hashtag, #SudburySocial, which we’ve encouraged others to include in their tweets about it.

3. Invite plenty of people. Once you know when and where your Tweetup is going to be held, and you’ve decided on a hashtag, you can start the invitation process. Obviously, there are a variety of ways to reach out to potential attendees en masse (email blasts, blog posts, etc.), but consider approaching some people individually, especially those who you know very well or whose presence is critical to the success of the event.

4. Leverage mainstream media. To help get the word out about the Sudbury Social Tweetup, I wrote a simple press release and submitted it to the Sudbury Town Crier and Sudbury Patch, both of which ran with it. This helped us reach folks who were interested in learning more about social media, but who might still rely on mainstream, more traditional media for their news and information.

5. Ask your friends for assistance. You’d be surprised how many people are glad to be asked to join your team of volunteers. Acting as your own brand ambassadors, your friends and colleagues can help you spread the word about the event, track down sponsors, book entertainment and so much more.

6. Use an online registration service such as Eventbrite. I’ve used Eventbrite, a free event registration service, to manage registrations for the two Sudbury Social Tweetups we’ve had so far, and I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been with it. It’s incredibly easy to use. But at the same time, it’s also quite sophisticated, offering a multitude of ways to create and promote a fabulous event

7. Don’t forget Boston TweetUp. Run by Joselin Mane, Boston TweetUp not only keeps a handy calendar of Tweetups and other similar networking events, it helps promote these business-related get-togethers via Boston TweetUp TV and plenty of timely, pleasantly surprising tweets.

8. Bring name tags and felt-tip pens. You may know everyone there, but many people will be meeting others in attendance for the first time. As your guests arrive, kindly ask them to write their name and Twitter handle – legibly – on the name tags you’ve provided, which will make it much easier for them to approach complete strangers and introduce themselves with confidence.

9. Make sure to mingle. Whether your hosting the event or not, it’s important to make the rounds, to chat it up with as many people as possible. It’s not just about being polite. It’s about taking full advantage of the many great networking opportunities that may exist in the room.

10. Share what you know about social media. Besides having a good time and making new friends, pretty much everyone who attends a Tweetup is interested in learning more about social media. Invite a guest speaker. Or go out of your way to share your own knowledge about the subject, either through a formal presentation to the group or simply in impromptu, one-on-one conversations.

Did I miss anything? What has been your experience with Tweetups? Have you ever attended one? Have you ever hosted one? What do you think are the ingredients of some of the most successful Tweetups? Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts by leaving a comment about this post below.

Additional Resources and Information Regarding Tweetups

HOW TO: Organize a Successful Tweetup (Mashable)
Boston Tweetup shares tips on how to host a successful Tweetup (Eventbrite Blog)
Bridging Offline/Online: Tweetups (Beth’s Blog)
Planning a Tweetup (TwiTip)
Twitter Tip Tuesday: Host a Tweetup (Sprout Social Insights)
How to Organize a Successful Tweetup (Social Media Today)
How to Throw a Great Tweet-Up (Social Media Explorer)

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