Posts Tagged ‘hashtag’

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: Stop Making This #FollowFriday Mistake

May 26, 2010

In my previous blog, I wrote about FollowFriday, some of the reasons why it started, and the many ways that Twitter users can participate in it.

Not gaining as many followers as you thought you would on #FollowFriday? You are probably making this mistake.I am writing this blog because I still see a lot of people doing it WRONG. I did not even find out that people were participating in FollowFriday incorrectly until I went to their profiles and saw the FollowFriday recommendations they tweeted to their followers.

Or tried to. One of the Tweeps whose profile I visited had tweet after tweet of her followers during one FollowFriday. She sent out about 60 unique tweets with 8-11 user names each, and all of them ended with the shorter FollowFriday hashtag, #FF. Who ended up seeing her FollowFriday tweets the moment she posted them? Unfortunately, only she did, as well as the users mentioned in the tweet, IF they are online at the time.

What mistake did she make? In each of her FollowFriday tweets, the beginning of the tweet was a user name of her follower. According to Twitter, “[a]n @reply is any Twitter update that begins with @username.”  Therefore, Twitter treated all of her FollowFriday tweets as a reply for the very first user in each tweet. How about the rest of the users in the tweet? Twitter handles the tweet as a “mention”, which is “any Twitter update that contains @username in the body of the tweet.”

Why is it important to know the difference between replies and mentions? Replies do not show up on the public timeline or home timeline, generally speaking, while mentions do. Let’s look at the following hypothetical tweet.

@tonystevens4, @TweetSmarter, @FlowerBlossoms, @ParachuteGuy, @snopes, @NikiConnor, @ScienceChannel, @FailBlog, @shinng #ff

The tweet begins immediately with the user name, @tonystevens4, so Twitter treats the tweet as a reply and will not show up in the public timeline. However, people can see replies in their home timeline if, and only if, they are following both the sender and recipient of the tweet. How would that look like?

From my home timeline:

tonystevens4 @NikiConnor Good morning, Niki!

NikiConnor @tonystevens4 Good morning, Tony!

Going back to the hypothetical tweet, each of the users in the tweet, including @tonystevens4, would find this tweet in their own mentions feed and nowhere else. We can modify the tweet a few ways in order for it to show up in the home timeline and public timeline. For example, we can add the hashtag, #FollowFriday, in front of the tweet,

#FollowFriday @tonystevens4, @TweetSmarter, @FlowerBlossoms, @ParachuteGuy, @snopes, @NikiConnor, @ScienceChannel, @FailBlog, @shinng #ff

or we can add a period or forward slash:

.@tonystevens4, @TweetSmarter, @FlowerBlossoms, @ParachuteGuy, @snopes, @NikiConnor, @ScienceChannel, @FailBlog, @shinng #ff

/@tonystevens4, @TweetSmarter, @FlowerBlossoms, @ParachuteGuy, @snopes, @NikiConnor, @ScienceChannel, @FailBlog, @shinng #ff

What does this show? The mechanism for replies is very specific, but making a tweet appear in the home and public timelines is variable and not standardized. Indeed, as long as the beginning of the tweet does not begin with @username, the tweet will appear in the home and public timelines.

What, then, can the Tweep with the 60 unique, yet exclusive, FollowFriday tweets do in the future? As long as she does not start any of her FollowFriday tweets with @username, her recommendations will appear in her home timeline and the public timeline. If you have tens of thousands of followers, you do not want to make this FollowFriday mistake.

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Francis M. Unson

Twitter: How do you do #FollowFriday?

May 24, 2010

Every Friday on Twitter, have you noticed a flood of tweets from your followers that contain the user names of their followers as well as the hashtag, #FollowFriday or #FF, on your timeline?  If you do a search on Twitter for either hashtag, you will undoubtedly find other people doing the same thing.

FollowFriday began on January 16, 2009 by Micah Baldwin (@micah).  While trending topics come and go due to world events, FollowFriday has become a weekly trending topic ever since, embraced by Tweeps worldwide.  Why do people engage in FollowFriday?  People may come up with many reasons for why they engage in FollowFriday, but the most common reason involves promoting their own followers to others.  After all, no two people have exactly the same set of people they are following.  People spend the weekend, as well as Monday, adding FollowFriday recommendations.

Do you participate in the weekly trending top, #FollowFriday?  When you're on Twitter on a Friday, you're going to see many tweets with the #FollowFriday and #FF hashtags in them.  How can you participate in #FollowFriday more efficiently?Like retweeting, there is no right or wrong way to participate in FollowFriday.  Many people place a #FF or #FollowFriday hashtag before or after their recommendations.  The people listed tend to retweet the FollowFriday tweet they are in, effectively taking part in FollowFriday, too.  Some people do not leave the hashtags to chance and add “Please follow” just before the list of usernames.  Tweeps such as Daniel (@DanielStoicaTax) go the extra mile and include information from the bio of the person they are recommending in their tweet.

Some people in social media have raised concerns about the value of FollowFriday and why its initial popularity and seeming die off soon after makes the trending topic more of a fad instead of a trend.  One of the concerns I agree with deals with “Noise vs. Value”.  From Monday to Thursday, I can rely on the users I am following to tweet about or retweet new content.  On Friday, however, tweets marked with #FollowFriday or #FF take over my timeline.  I try my best to add new followers, but when you follow thousands, your followers recommend just as many.

How can we combat the “noise” of FollowFriday and increase the value added to our time spent on Twitter?  We have a few options.

TwitLonger

TwitLonger allows us to send tweets that exceed 140 characters.  I have not tested just how many characters a tweet through the website can accommodate, but they have come through for me in the past when my own tweets went over the character limit.  TwitLonger works likes this:

  • It accommodates as much of the original tweet as possible.
  • When the tweet is too long, it truncates enough characters at the end so that it can append the following: (cont) http://tl.gd/…
  • The shortcut link provided takes you to the TwitLonger website where you can view the entire tweet.

You can effectively take care of your FollowFriday recommendations in a single tweet by using TwitLonger instead of sending out 10 or 20 tweets, or more, the normal way.  However, only the first few people at the beginning of the large tweet would be seen in the original tweet.  People have a tendency of replying only to tweets that mention their user name.  Twitter clients such as HootSuite and TweetDeck do not expand FollowFriday tweets from TwitLonger links.  The most intrepid of Tweeps who do add more followers from a TwitLonger link would find it surprisingly convenient.

TweepML

If I can hazard a guess from their blog entries on their website, TweepML was probably the best way to manage groups of Tweeps before Twitter introduced Twitter Lists a few months later.  Nonetheless, adding a list of followers on TweepML saves the tedium of adding followers, one at a time, especially if you add them through the Twitter website.  TweepML works like this:

  • You find a list of Tweeps you would like to add.  Remove any users you choose not to add before signing in.
  • Sign into the website using OAuth.  You will briefly go to the Twitter website.
  • On the screen asking if you allow TweepML access, click on “Yes”.
  • You will return to TweepML and the website will start adding people from the list immediately.

A warning: Twitter has a number of rate limits in place.  We can get flagged for sending out too many tweets or attempting to follow a large number of users in a short period of time.  There is a good chance you will not be able to follow a list of 500 Tweeps in one instance.  If this happens to you, keep track of the last user on the list that you were able to follow.  A few hours later, continue where you left off, making sure to uncheck the names of the Tweeps at the top of the list that you have already started following earlier.

On the other hand, if you have used TweepML to create user lists, the website will provide you with a link to the list, and you can share that link on Twitter.

Twitter Lists

You can send tweets about Twitter Lists and reference them directly.  For example, in the following tweet, I share three lists and each contains a number of users.  You can create a list with up to 500 users each.  Many Tweeps create a list of “highly recommended” users for FollowFriday and update the list weekly.  It is worth noting that people can follow Twitter Lists but not follow the users that make up the list.

Finally, however way you choose to participate in FollowFriday, you maybe pleasantly surprised to see which of your followers have decided to recommend you.  If you find yourself in somebody’s FollowFriday tweet, don’t forget to send a “Thank you” or “Gratitude” tweet.  After all, they took the time to recommend you for FollowFriday, and you have many options for how you can recommend them back.

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Francis M. Unson

Twitter Dilemma: Follow Back the Followers of YOUR Grateful Followers?

March 3, 2010

I have a Twitter Dilemma.

I participate in Twitter’s “Follow Friday”, a weekly event in which Tweeps post the usernames of people, businesses, or other prolific users that are worthy of being followed.  The event helps me add new users, many of whom I have never seen prior to Friday.  In kind, I have my list of worthy users to add to the Follow Friday mix.  Over the weekend, I go through my followers’ Tweets marked with the hashtag #FF or #FollowFriday, clear indicators that the users listed with either hashtag are my followers’ recommendations.  I make it known to my new followees who referred them with a public Tweet, using the following format:

#FF @newUser recommended by: @myFollower #FollowFriday

My dilemma is this: I feel as though I should extend “Follow Friday” privileges to the users my followers publicly thank.  The Tweets of my grateful followers look something like this:

Thanks! RT @RTingUser1 @RTingUser2 @RTingUser3 @RTingUser4 @RTingUser5 … #Gratitude #Love #FF

If a “Thank You!” Tweet contains #FF, ostensibly, my followers are recommending that the users be followed, whether or not it’s Friday.  However, if the #FF hashtag is not included, is it alright to add the users my follower listed, anyway?

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Francis M. Unson