Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Tweetups: What They Are and How to Organize One

June 7, 2010

You maybe surprised to find out that the Oxford Dictionary has added “tweetup” to the English lexicon along with a number of neologisms that may sound familiar to you such as “unfriend“, hashtag” and, for us bloggers, “tag cloud“.  This shows us that social media has taken a firm grasp in our daily lives, enough so that a venerable institution such as the Oxford University Press would add the words to their dictionary.

"Tweetups" are a way of turning online connections into real-life contacts.  Engaging your audience would make the tweetup a true social networking event.  If you'd like to plan a tweetup, here are the do's and don'ts about tweetups, from the planning stages to the event itself.What exactly is a tweetup?  The portmanteau combines the words “tweet” and “meet up“.  In other words, tweetup is a gathering of a group of Twitter users (or “tweeps“) in real life.  The reasons for gathering tweeps together could be analogous to why people, in general, gather together.  Some examples, among many possibilities, include:

  • charity events
  • memorials of a fallen soldier
  • gathering tweeps with common interests, professions, or political interests
  • buzz-generating events to giveaway tickets or prizes (always in short supply during the event)
  • gathering tweeps for a larger event (e.g. a tweetup to gather tweeps for a “Flash Mob” event)
  • protests
  • concerts at the park
  • job or career fairs
  • store grand openings

Tweetups cover a wide spectrum – from spontaneous, quickly arranged acoustic concerts to highly organized, highly publicized protests.  You cannot gauge how many people will attend the event.  For example, you broadcast your tweetup to 20 of your followers.  Only nine of the 20 show up, but each brings along two friends.  The attendees of your tweetup, therefore, consists of nine people you contacted directly and 18 you don’t even know.  While attracting a large audience for your tweetup is nice, engaging your audience would make the tweetup a true social networking event.  Otherwise, you would have nine groups of three people each that silently keep to themselves.

If you’d like to plan your own tweetup, Mashable has compiled a list of things to consider.

Organizing the Tweetup

DO Make the most of your Twitter network. You may not need professional assistance for small gatherings.  However, if you are planning a large event, PR and marketing people on Twitter can help create buzz and support for your event.

DO Visit the venue in person.  Yes, I am serious. You do not want to organize a tweetup only to find out, along with the rest of the tweeps, that a venue has gone out of business or been torn down months ago.  Don’t trust an outdated photo from Street View on Google Maps.  Visiting the venue will also give you ample time to decide whether or not you need a larger one, which leads me to the point.

DO Plan for more people to show up than you think. Earlier, I mentioned the example of nine people bringing two of their friends each.  In the world of Twitter, people may tag along with a group because they happen to mention the tweetup and, before you know it, an entire bus, subway car or ferry full of people start making their way to the tweetup.  Expect the unexpected and embrace with open arms the non-tweeps who just so happened to show up.

DO Invite a well-known speaker or two. If you manage to get Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki), Tony Stevens (@tonystevens4), or Dave and Sarah Larson (the couple behind @TweetSmarter) as guest speakers, you may need a soccer field and the field next to it.

DO Use email. It stands for “electronic mail”, remember?  People still use email.  Just think of it as a way of writing seven DMs in a single message.  While you may meet thousands of tweeps and know them by their Twitter username, you may never learn any of their email addresses, yet still communicate to them on Twitter.  In addition, email would help you discern your pre-Twitter friends from your current followers.

DO Use event services to help you organize your guests, collect donations, and provide sharable content. Mashable provides a listing of services you can use.

DON’T Use a venue with limited Wi-Fi or cell phone reception or, worse, dead zones. The Twitter crowd is a technologically savvy one.  During a lull in activity at some point during the tweetup, hundreds of people may go online at the same time.  Make sure that the venue can handle the traffic.  As a rule of thumb, pretend that the total number of people you expect to show up at the tweetup has an iPhone, iPad, DROID, any of the two, or all three.

DON’T Have the event in a venue ill-suited for the tweetup. The name of the game at tweetups is communication.  Tweetups are social networking events.  Anything that impedes communication will cause the event to become memorable to the attendees for the lack thereof.

DON’T Treat the tweetup as a kickback. You may hang out with a group of friends every Saturday afternoon for five years in a row for no particular reason whatsoever, but the tweeps attending the tweetup are not that group of friends.  Make the purpose of the tweetup very clear so that people can get ready accordingly.  Is the tweetup a luau?  People need time to shop for a Hawaiian shirt if they don’t have one.

DON’T “Wing it”. You want people to remember you for the well-organized and purpose-driven tweetup you setup, rather than slapping together a “tweetup” last-second that leaves attendees wondering, “Why are we here again?”

During the Tweetup

DO Arrive at the event early. It’s common courtesy to arrive early, and it gives tweeps some relief that you, the tweetup organizer, would show up to your own event.  Just before you begin, you can pass out tweetup material such as schedules that list the day’s events.

DO Collect business cards. For whatever purpose you set out your tweetup to accomplish, networking with the attendees is the most important activity you do with them, and that begins with collecting their information.

DO Provide food. How many missed networking opportunities would take place if you didn’t provide food?  After all, networking takes place over as little as coffee.  After a couple of hours of workshops and guest speakers, provide food to the attendees so it gives them a chance to talk about the day’s events so far amongst each other.

DON’T Fade into the background. It’s your tweetup; you host it.  Besides, if you are hosting your first-ever tweetup, the attendees, more likely than not, do not know each other and are, therefore, strangers.  As host of the tweetup, you are there to greet arriving guests and answer peoples’ questions.  You can also engage in the first step of networking: providing new arrivals with nametags where they can write their first name and, just below, their Twitter username.  However, –

DON’T Use water-soluble markers or thin pens. You want the attendees to read each others’ names from afar, so use dark, permanent markers with thick ink tips.

DON’T Snub the guests. Treat @TeenW_Braces with the same respect as you would @CodesInBasic, @WearsIPadOnNeck, or @BlondeMensaGal.

DON’T Go open bar. I wasn’t expecting Mashable to include this in its list, but it makes perfect sense.  You do not want rowdy attendees that had no other purpose than to drink free alcohol.

Above all things, what do tweetups do?  They turn online interactions into real-life contacts.  In communities that hold regular tweetups, the line between online communities and real-life communities will become blurred.  Start planning a tweetup in your community.  You never know who may show up.

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Francis M. Unson

Twitter: 301 Redirect Explained [ILLUSTRATION]

May 10, 2010

The Internet has seen the rebirth of URL shorteners such as and, thanks in large part to Twitter’s popularity.  The most widely used URL shorteners use 301 Redirect, “which allows websites to move transparently between different domains while still using a common web address, allowing the website to preserve its search engine ranking”.

Even for a person like myself who transitioned easily between older and newer versions of Web x.0, the definition of “301 Redirect” seems planted in Web 1.0, at a time when people made personal websites on hosts such as Angelfire or the defunct GeoCities (remember those?).  Twitter has given new life to URL shorteners but in some ways, modified peoples’ understanding of what 301 Redirect actually does.  The heady definition I provided probably requires simplification to reflect current usage.

If you can’t wait for industry leaders to simplify the definition, however, I hope this crude drawing shows how 301 Redirect would work, namely, between the tweets on Guy Kawasaki’s Twitter account (@GuyKawasaki) and his news website, Alltop.  Notice that, despite using four different URL shorteners for the same article, all four “lanes” of the “@GuyKawasaki Highway” merge into one street, Holy Kaw! Boulevard”,  the section on his website where we would find the article.

If the definition of 301 Redirect seems dated, this illustration showing the links between the tweets on Guy Kawasaki's Twitter account and his news website, Alltop, should help.

The Symbiotic Relationship between Guy Kawasaki, Twitter, Alltop, and 301 Redirect

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Francis M. Unson

Twitter Influence: Another Case Study

May 4, 2010

I wrote a Twitter Influence case study in a previous blog comparing the different approaches that @TweetSmarter and @tonystevens4 took towards building a strong Twitter Influence, concluding with the lessons I have learned by following them.

Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of Alltop

Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of Alltop. Courtesy:

The following case study takes the same approach towards analyzing the Twitter Influence of another prominent, highly followed, highly listed and highly influential user, with two usernames: @GuyKawasaki / @Alltop. Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of Alltop, tweets from both accounts, and each account serves a slightly different purpose. I will, like before, present my findings from what I learned by following Guy’s accounts and the example tweets that back up my findings.

@GuyKawasaki / @Alltop

Like @TweetSmarter, I would describe @GuyKawasaki and @Alltop as a reliable source of information. In Guy’s words, his website, Alltop, is “an online magazine rack”. Indeed, when browsing the subject headings on Alltop, you will find about as many topics as you would find at the magazine section of Barnes and Noble or Borders.

What he does

Guy sets a schedule for tweets on his namesake’s username, @GuyKawasaki, so that people in different time zones around the world can read the articles referenced in his tweets. If you are on your computer all day, you will see up to three tweets about the same topic from this username. Interestingly, when Guy follows you back, you will receive a direct message (DM) from him encouraging you to add his other username, @Alltop. He promises that the tweets from @Alltop are unique and non-repeating, even though they originate from the same place as the tweets from @GuyKawasaki.

What does Guy tweet about? A lot of subjects, to say the least. All of Guy’s tweets from both accounts link to the Alltop website, particularly the section called, Holy Kaw! All the topics that interest us. In other words, since the articles featured in this section are, in their opinion, the most interesting or intriguing, his followers are very likely to retweet them. Meanwhile, visitors to the Alltop website can find an archive of articles that Guy has tweeted about previously as well as links to “stories [from] the top news websites and blogs from any given topic”, which include the following:

In addition, a handful of ghost writers and “ghost Twitterers” help Guy write the “starting point” introductions that entice his followers enough to click through to the article source.

Why this is significant

Guy and his company, Alltop, have become a reliable source of information that his followers trust, relying on “results of Google searches, review of the sites’ and blogs’ content, researchers, and [their] ‘gut’ plus the recommendations of the Twitter community, owners of the sites and blogs, and people who care enough to write to [them]“. The Twitter community, therefore, has served as nothing short of a content filter, and Alltop displaying just the filtered content. Aware that the content may have worldwide appeal, he schedules tweets on the @GuyKawasaki account to appear three or four times per day to make sure that people in different countries and time zones can read his tweets while they are awake. In order to avoid repeat tweets that some people consider spam, he sends unique, non-repeating tweets from the @Alltop account. When people visit the Alltop website, they find themselves at a website with well-organized topics and high-value content that may very well become their default news portal. When you schedule tweets on a daily basis and have tens of thousands of tweets under your belt under both usernames each, you may need a hand at sending extra tweets or writing article introductions.

Here is a sample of the tweets he posts:

By the way, I must note one caveat. Recently, Twitter updated their policy that banned recurring tweets. Strictly speaking, no two tweets can be sent that is a character-for-character copy of each other. While some high-volume users have stopped long-term scheduled tweets (e.g. verbatim tweets posted at regular intervals), others, such as Guy, have pressed the services of multiple URL shortcuts that use 301 redirect, as seen below. Twitter sees the character string of each tweet as unique even though all three links lead to the same article in Alltop:

While @TweetSmarter and @tonystevens4 exert their Twitter Influence on the Twitter medium almost exclusively, Guy Kawasaki exerts a Twitter Influence beyond the Twitter realm thanks to the Alltop website. In fact, Guy could conceivably have a following from people who read the news regularly yet not be a part of Twitter or Facebook at all. I can conclude with certainty that Guy is a reliable, retweetable source of information through his Twitter usernames, @GuyKawasaki and @Alltop, and the Alltop website.

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Francis M. Unson

Retweeting: A Matter of Style

March 29, 2010

I have retweeted (RT) many worthy tweets, and what I considered worthy varied greatly: literary and humorous quotes; news articles; #FollowFriday recommendations; Twitter Tips; “Top” lists of various sizes (usually 10); and Twitter Tips, among many others. Given the nature of Twitter “standards”, which are set in sand at high tide rather than stone, I have concluded that there is no right or wrong way to retweet.

Twitter: Is there a right or wrong way to retweet a tweet?  Twitter applications such as HootSuite and Seesmic have RT functions based on how people retweet.  How do YOU retweet?  It's up to you.As an example, I will take a tweet from @TweetSmarter and show you the number of ways I would find myself retweeting it. If you want to read the original tweet, click here.

How to Surf the Web…Anonymously:

If I retweeted that through my web browser or my cell phone, it would look like this:

RT @TweetSmarter How to Surf the Web…Anonymously:

I would type out the entire tweet and, as a result, forget the colon (:) after @TweetSmarter. Using the retweet function in HootSuite or Seesmic, where the colon is duly added, the retweet would look like this:

RT @TweetSmarter: How to Surf the Web…Anonymously:

Some Tweeps are very conscious of making sure that the original headline remains in front of the tweet. Therefore, the retweet would look like this:

How to Surf the Web…Anonymously: RT @TweetSmarter

The tweet, as of this writing, has been retweeted nine times (albeit through Twitter’s Retweet link on its web interface). When many people retweet a tweet many times over, it looks something like this:

How to Surf the Web…Anonymously: RT @TweetSmarter @SarahJL @QuantumGood @TwitterHelper

I have read the ongoing debate about the usefulness of “via“. I have seen via used a number of ways. One of my followers, it seems, refuses to use RT at all, so their retweets would look something like this:

How to Surf the Web…Anonymously: /via @TweetSmarter

Other users use RT for unique tweets, as shown earlier, and “via” when retweeting a popular tweet. Their retweets would look this this:

How to Surf the Web…Anonymously: /via @TweetSmarter @SarahJL @QuantumGood @TwitterHelper

I consider using “via” in the event that I come across a tweet that has been retweeted multiple times, as well. However, I would still use RT for the user from whom I received the tweet directly. Therefore, my retweet would look like this:

How to Surf the Web…Anonymously: RT @TweetSmarter /via @SarahJL @QuantumGood @TwitterHelper

Ironically, my first encounter with Twitter was at Barnes and Noble, the brick-and-mortar bookstore, where I read all about it. One of the books described the use of “via” as a way of dealing with a multi-generation retweet as shown above. However, “via” can also be used to cite offline sources such as out-of-print books, non-digitized resources, and people who are not on Twitter. The following examples are hyperbolic in nature, but please bear with me:

The debate of the best way to retweet will go on, but what matters most is that you find a retweet style with which you are most comfortable.


Since the time of this writing, a few more ways to retweet have emerged.  For example, when you place the cursor over a tweet, you will see the following options at the upper right corner:

Is there a right or wrong way to retweet a tweet?  Twitter applications such as HootSuite and Seesmic have RT functions based on how people retweet.  How do YOU retweet?  It's up to you.

When you click on the Retweet link, you will get a confirmation window asking if you would like to retweet to your followers.  When you click on the Retweet button, the tweet on that user’s personal and public timeline will look like this.  Notice the green arrow at the upper right corner and that the blue Retweet link has changed to a green Retweeted link:

Is there a right or wrong way to retweet a tweet?  Twitter applications such as HootSuite and Seesmic have RT functions based on how people retweet.  How do YOU retweet?  It's up to you.

For years, the design and usage of Twitter was shaped by we, the users, but over time, Twitter decided to make it easier for newer users to retweet a user’s tweet.  While I certainly use the built-in retweet function as a matter of convenience, I still prefer using the older methods outlined earlier in this blog since it allows me to share retweet credit, especially of a tweet that was popular or highly retweeted.

Speaking of older forms of retweeting, I have seen a twist these types of RTs, typically from mobile phone Twitter clients:

@TweetSmarter Why Is Pinterest So Addictive? [INFOGRAPHIC]

RT @TweetSmarter Why Is Pinterest So Addictive? [INFOGRAPHIC]

“RT @TweetSmarter: Why Is Pinterest So Addictive? [INFOGRAPHIC]

In the first example, the Twitter client has encapsulated @TweetSmarter and the original tweet in “smart quotes”; the second tweet encapsulates the RT at the very beginning, sans colon (:); and the third tweet includes the (:) after the username.  I can see how the use of quotation marks help make very explicit the contents of the original tweet, especially if a tweet is cited in an academic paper.  Furthermore, any comments, remarks, or replies would be made outside the quoted tweet.  I highly recommend this form of retweeting as it mimics printed language.

The final method of retweeting that I have come across is a retweet of sorts.  While I have not used it very much, it has been around for some time.  It is called the “modified tweet”, or MT for short.  I have seen tweets labeled as such and it typically happens when a tweet is almost 140 characters in length but the addition of, say, RT @username, causes the tweet to exceed the limit.  Should a person endeavor to make the tweet shorter with shortcuts (e.g. change “late” to “l8”, “to” or “too” to “2”, etc), the resulting retweet is, character for character, not the same tweet anymore although, when read, it is the same as the original tweet in content, context, and meaning.  Let’s take a look at the following tweet (this is the original):

Interesting to hear how @WSJ taps into different demographics by leveraging platforms such as #pinterest #instagram & #YouTube #bdi1

The original tweet had eight characters to spare. When I tried to retweet it:

RT @socialmedia2day: Interesting to hear how @WSJ taps into different demographics by leveraging platforms such as #pinterest #instagram & #YouTube #bdi1

I went over by 13 characters.  I went to the website, 140it, which “makes your tweet less than 140 characters” but, unfortunately, it managed to shrink the tweet by just two characters:

MT @socialmedia2day: Interesting 2 hear how @WSJ taps in2 different demographics by leveraging platforms such as #pinterest #instagram & #YouTube #bdi1S

It is worth mentioning that any tweet you shrink down, manually or by a website, will turn any tweet into a modified tweet, and the previous example would count as an MT.  Despite using the website, however, the MT was still 151 characters in length.  In order to create a 140-character MT, this is what I did, without mercy:

MT @socialmedia2day: Intrstng 2 hear hw @WSJ taps in2 dffrnt dmografx by leveraging platforms such as #Pinterest #Instagram & #YouTube #bdi1

I believe I have seen a line drawn in the sand regarding how to retweet.  Users who have been on Twitter for a few years such as myself tend to retweet with the methods I outlined when I first published this blog in 2010, while newer users tend to use the built-in Retweet link.  However method you choose to retweet other users’ tweets, what you’re trying to achieve when you retweet is engaging that user, talking to and following them.  If they thank you for retweeting, reply in kind, because sooner or later, another user will retweet something you post, and thanking them for doing so will create a new chance to meet and engage new people.

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Francis M. Unson

Why I love Kogi BBQ

March 15, 2010

While Kogi BBQ of Southern California is a social media marketing darling, the real reason I love Kogi BBQ is simple: the FOOD!On a rainy Friday in February 2010, I received word on Twitter about the arrival of Kogi BBQ, a fleet of taco trucks that serves Korean Mexican food throughout Southern California, in my community of Santa Clarita.  I was glad I kept up with Kogi’s Tweets; Azul (one of the four primary taco trucks named after a Spanish color, with one on standby) was arriving an hour early.  I was done with the day’s work, so I made my way to the car wash across the street from Westfield Valencia and arrived at 8:15PM.  I did not see a line of people, but I wasn’t surprised; it was raining all day that day and had just started to clear up in the evening.  Needless to say, it was freezing outside.  Furthermore, Kogi’s early arrival was not Tweeted until about 6PM, so that probably threw off peoples’ plans.  Nonetheless, I braved the cold weather and, upon Kogi’s arrival, was rewarded by being served first.

Why do I love Kogi BBQ?  Being served first helped slightly.  Kogi’s successful (read: enviable) social media marketing plan certainly caught my eye, which was recently copied in some form by JetBlue in New York City to distribute about a thousand free round-trip tickets as part of its 10th anniversary celebration.  However, the reason why I love Kogi BBQ is very simple: the FOOD!

Simply, you haven’t had Kogi BBQ until you’ve had short rib, spicy pork, chicken, or tofu, wrapped in a soft taco or burrito flour tortilla.  If you want a real taste of Korean, you must try the Kogi Kimchi Quesadilla, a Kogi Favorite.  Furthermore, if you ever needed a reason to come early, the Chef’s Specials such as Calamari Tacos and desserts like Tres Leches always sell out.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Kogi BBQ’s fleet of taco trucks roam Southern California from Tuesday-Saturday.  Go to their website and find out when Kogi will be serving up Korean Mexican food at the parking lot of a shopping center, hotel, or car wash near you.

Finally, if you live in or near Culver City, California, drop by the Alibi Room from 6PM – midnight, Monday-Saturday for your Kogi fix (21+).

Kogi BBQ

Follow them on Twitter! @KogiBBQ

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Francis M. Unson