Sep 01

Social media is booming among all age groups. Businesses large and small are finding that Twitter is a great tool to help them engage with consumers, increase awareness about their products and services, and provide users with a quick and easy way to give feedback and ask questions.

As a way to better connect with users, businesses can incorporate special Twitter events such as tweetups, Twitter chats or Twitter parties into their social media plan. While all three types of events can be used effectively by businesses as a way to connect with their followers, all three are different. So exactly what are the differences and how do you go about hosting one? Here’s a brief summary:

Tweetups Tweetups (or “Twitter meetups”) are events where Twitter users meet each other in person. They are a great way to catch up with Twitter friends, make some new ones, network, and finally put a face to a Twitter ID. There is usually a topic, theme or purpose for the Tweetup, and may include a guest speaker or two to attract people to the event. The events can be educational, informational, and fun. Businesses can organize Tweetups and host them at their headquarters or another venue as a way to bring their followers and clients (or potential clients) together. When planning a Tweetup, make sure you find a venue large enough to accommodate what could be a large gathering (events spread quickly on Twitter), include Twitter ID nametags for attendees, and provide refreshments. While the tone of the Tweetup should not be one of business promotion, simply having a helpful event could generate good PR and good will amongst your followers. For more tips on how to organize a successful Tweetup, check out this article from Mashable.com.

Twitter Chats Twitter chats are events held entirely online and are primarily used as a forum for people to exchange ideas and discuss a specific topic of interest. They are also considered a way to network with other like-minded Twitter users. Twitter chats are casual, drop in events (you often do not need to register to attend), and are usually organized by a person (or persons), an organization or company. Even if hosted by a business, the main purpose of the event is educational and informative—this is not a place to hawk your products. Organizers pick a hashtag for the chat, which all attendees must use in their tweets in order for their tweets to be seen during the chat. Twitter chats often are held on a weekly or monthly basis, with the day of the week and time of the chat remaining consistent. Usually, a group will begin a chat with just a few people, but over time—if the chat proves to provide attendees with good discussion–can grow into one that becomes popular and regularly well-attended. A Twitter chat can be held on any subject: business, education, a specific industry, social cause, or hobby. Many chat attendees use a Twitter aggregator to follow all tweets using the specific chat hashtag, which helps users focus on the discussion by filtering out tweets from their followers that do not include the hashtag. Some popular aggregators for Twitter chats are TweetChat or Twubs. Here’s an article about how to organize a tweet chat, check out this article from Lisa Barone of Outspoken Media, Inc., including a link to a tweet chat calendar listing popular chats by hashtag.

Twitter Parties Twitter parties are very similar to Twitter chats in that they take place entirely on Twitter and use a specific hashtag as the way to follow along with the party. Like chats, Twitter parties select a specific date and time for the event, as well as an interesting theme to attract users. The main difference between Twitter chats and Twitter parties is that while a chat is purely a discussion, a Twitter party’s underlying goal is to help promote a company, brand or cause. While the theme of a Twitter party can be educational and informative, there are usually mentions of the company sponsoring (or hosting) the Twitter party, as well as tweets about their products and services, special offers and product giveaways. Companies and organizations holding Twitter parties also usually have an objective such as increasing their follower counts, generating more web site traffic, gaining more brand exposure and generally connecting with and engaging their followers and other Twitter users. However, promotion of the business should not dominate the party. Rather, the theme should be front and center while promotional aspects take more of a backseat. Some popular aggregators are Tweet Grid, Tweet Deck and Tweet Chat. For more information on planning a Twitter party, visit TweeParties.

Regardless of which path you choose, hosting a Twitter event can be a fun, low-cost way to reach out to and engage more of your followers. So dive on in and become of the life of the social media party!

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