I think the idea of bring the virtual and the in person together is brilliant. The Tweet Ups I've attended have been so much fun and such a potential for business. Mary has done a great job with this article.
Twitter is one of the few social networks you can truly use effectively for local business. Now, lets consider that most local businesses are product or service oriented that require some labor and most importantly the act of meeting with customer offline. Offline? Really, forming relationships without the assistance of that inter-web thing? Do people still do that? Sound so old school and most concerning, like it might involve social skills. You know the shaking of hands in the age of swine flu.
Let people know where you are and find other local tweeps
Ok, so back to using Twitter for a local business. The first thing you NEED is a fully filled out twitter profile! Make sure you include your location and register with:
- · www.twellow.com
- · www.twellowhood.com
- · www.localtweeps.com
- · www.tweeplepages.com
- · www.nearbytweets.com
You can post your profile and location to these local twitter search engines and then find people locally by city, state, zip and even drill down by interest on some. If you want to stay hyper-local you can use the local twitter desktop application called Twitter Local downloadable from www.twitterlocal.com.
Now, use the same services to identify local tweeps find 20-50 or so interesting local tweeps and add them to the people you are following. I do searches regularly to find new more interesting people that are within my local area to expand my neighborhood reach. When you follow people make sure they tweet regularly its not useful to follow people who dont actually use twitter! OK. So, now you are following these people and while I shouldnt have to say this I will because well, you are a geek that is using Twitter and you probably need a little guidance in normal social protocol start interacting with them. Seriously tweet the local tweeps!
Organizing a Tweetup
Use your business or local facility as a meeting place to take the online network offline
Now, remember that business you have? You probably have an office or a facility or some place to do that work thing you do from. Eureka! You see what Im doing here? OK, how about organizing a tweetup at your office, store, shop, restaurant, etc! This is how you take the online network offline. Remember that more better faster stronger relationships are built offline than online so make efforts to take your online network offline face to face is so much better than using the monitor as an intermediary!
Finding a Venue
While the ideal location is your business, lets say you have a slipper network and work in your underwear or bikini from home. You can easily use a local business location like a hotel or a restaurant or bar make sure they have wifi its lame to host a tweetup and have people there that cant connect.
Make sure you have a speaker or a high profile Tweep there to draw people in
Also have a draw. Check out the mashable article on Tweetups you need to keep it real and twitter related not just social use a local twitter celeb and give them a few minutes to talk and teach. Of course after that you can socialize but you do need a draw! Ensure a few core speakers. Find local business people or popular Tweeps with large followings or a specific set of skills and ask them to give a 10-15 minute presentation ont heir area of expertise. Trust me if @ChrisBrogan or @GregVerdino are at an event…it will draw a lot more buzz than @stuartcfoster. These people will help you to 1. Market the event to their following and 2. Help drum up natural buzz for it.
Get help organizing larger groups
Utilize your Twitter network as a way to drum up support, help and ideas. Seed out to local Twitts that you want to organize a Tweetup. You can use one of the above mentioned services to find local people within your area on Twitter to start connecting with outside of your existing network. Find at least 2 other local Tweeps (with large followings preferably in marketing or PR) that would be willing to help out with the organization of the Tweetup.
How to be prepared at the event
At the event you need 2 things:
- A fish bowl to collect cards because you want to connect with all these people again
- Name badges so people can recognize each other because pics do not always tell the truth yeah Im looking at you realtors with the 20 year glamour shot make sure you ask people to put their twitter user name on the name badge helps people connect best. Now, you can get cool name badges from twitterbadges.com or you can get some a sharpie and some Staples stickers. Depends on your budget!
Give plenty of lead time to plan
Always make sure you give plenty of lead time before the event I like giving 2 weeks but posting reminders to Facebook and twitter every few days. And definitely tweet when you leave for the event and from the event to build buzz.
How to market your tweetup?
These are all great ways to create a registration page and email invitations that you can send out to your mailing list. Its a great way to keep people in the loop, remind them of event details, get their feedback after the event and connect with people in your local offline mailing list. I love these tools people can register and RSVP so you can get an idea of how many people will be showing up. Always important it sucks to have a huge venue and 3 people just as much as it sucks to have a small venue and 100 people.
Silo your local connections on social networks
1. Use www.Tweetdeck.com and silo all your local tweeps into a group so you can easily message them and invite them personally to your events and even solicit help and get feedback. Siloing your local tweeps into a single group really helps you stay in contact with them and keep an eye on what they are up to so you can engage them best.
2. Always convert local tweeps to Facebook friends, group them and message them create an event so they can RSVP and invite them on Facebook too. Encourage everyone to post pictures to the event so you can enlist new people in the area on Facebook to join the group.
Dont discriminate against non Twitts
Use www.meetup.com to find more offline people that may not yet be using Twitter but may have common interests. Dont limit yourself to tweeps there are peeps you want there too there are plenty of non tweeps locally on meetup so create an event over there too and invite the non tweep peeps.
Create a hashtag for your event so you can spread the word and find people talking about easily
Always use a hashtag for your tweetup when you talk about it like #celebrationtweetup
Read more: Check out Mashables post on How to organize a successful Tweetup
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