If you're new to Twitter, you're probably thinking that a "tweetup" is a group of people who talk on Twitter that get together in real life, right?
Yes, grasshopper. But that was kickin' it old school, circa 2007.
Lately, things have gotten out of hand here in South Florida. It's great that we have a growing community taking advantage of social media for personal and business reasons, but let's face it, if we don't set some boundaries, even the crackheads who run the parking mafia at Vagabond are going to start throwing tweetups.
Not everything is a tweetup, folks! Why? Here's six reasons to ponder.
1 Old Skool kept it real.
Old Skool tweetups were just that -- people who connected on Twitter, but didn't know each other in real life, got together without any particular agenda. The goal of the evening was to put a face to the name and carry out conversations longer than 140 characters over a cocktail or two. No big deal. Intimacy increased and new people entered the fold. The tweetup thing just felt more natural back then, in a warm and fuzzy friendship sort of way. Heck, sometimes people even hooked up. Networking happened, but it was never pushy.
2. Nobody ever sold shit at tweetups.
In the last few years, businesses have come to realize the power of social media to promote their brands. And truth be told, we all have a personality to sell on Twitter. If you're a power user, deep down inside, you know you've got a bit of Twitter ho in you, even if all you do is joke about penises all day long. But no one ever leaves cash on your dresser.
While there's nothing wrong with a company or individual businessperson gathering a group of people to promote stuff, it's not a real tweetup if you're a fake Twitter friend.
3. If there ain't no name badges, it aint a tweetup.
True, Old Skool wasn't about name badges, but this is a sofa-king size pet peeve for yours truly. If you're going to do a business- or cause-based tweetup, remember the one golden rule: It's called a tweetup because you are harnessing the power of Twitter. Let me repeat: Twitter. Not MySpace, not Facebook, not Friendster. TWITTER.
How do you expect people to carry conversations about you on Twitter after your event, if you don't even know who they are? So drive your cheap ass down to CVS and buy a few stick-on name badges and Sharpies. How hard is that?
4. Don't be a Twitass. Keep your private tweetups private.
Sometimes tweetups are purely social and that's totally OK. But, if it's just you and a few Twitter buds getting together at a tittie bar, it's not really a tweetup -- you just happen to be using Twitter to plan your night of debauchery. Keep it on the down low and switch to DM. Not everybody on your Twitter stream wants to hear about how you plan to drop a couple hundred Benjamins on a lap dance. Besides, it's sort of rude to those dudes you aren't inviting. You wouldn't walk up to a guy in real life and tell him, "You can't come to the party," would you?
5. Expose yourself. Let your public tweetups be known.
It's simple, folks. At one point, use a free application like twtvite to make sure your followers mark their calendars. A heavily promoted tweetup that engages the vast majority of your followers should include a formal and very public Twitter-based application for RSVPs. Promoting a tweetup on Facebook is like, er, asking a hooker to wash the dishes and your wife to have sex with you.
6. Social objects are cool, but ...
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Craig Agranoff, creator of Worstpizza.com and pie king extraordinaire, has done a great job of bringing South Florida people together through Twitter (@pizzatweetup). Everybody always gets a few slices of free pizza at his famous tweetups, but he never, ever overtly sells anything.
Pizza tweetups are a good example of community building. The Twitter-based community continues to talk about pizza in 140-characters after any event. Friendships are forged in that big, hot social media oven that is Twitter. That is the whole point, creating relationships around a particular social object of common interest. In this case, it's pizza. What's not to love?
But now don't everybody go out there and start calling every damn food or drink based event a tweetup. If you're just throwing a special dinner at your restaurant and tossing out a mention on Twitter without spending time cultivating a relationship with your followers that's just the Avon lady calling at the door, and she didn't even make an appointment.