Yesterday, I attended my first “TweetUp”.
“What, exactly, is a Tweet Up?” you are probably wondering…my response: they are the next step to making Twitter a digital networking tool to an actual networking tool.
A TweetUp is a meeting of people who Twitter and are in a similar geographic location. The one I attended this week was put on byMidMichiganTweetUp, who holds one monthly in different parts of the Lansing area. It was sponsored by Biggby Coffee, who’s CEO,BiggbyBob, is a Twitter fanatic and all around swell person. The Biggby Coffee at Eastwood Towne Center was packed with local people who use Twitter. I was able to meet new people, discuss how social media has effected our lives: how we do business, how we interact, how we get news, and so on. I went with the express purpose of getting the community engaged in our Campus Archaeology Program, which will be using Twitter in the field on a regular basis. Everyone I talked to was very excited about taking part and seeing what was going on. A woman who works for the Lansing State Journal said she would pass my card on to a reporter. And then it occurred to me: why not host a MidMichigan Tweet Up at an archaeological site?
This is exactly what BiggbyBob had done by offering to host a TweetUp at his business. He used it as a means of attracting new customers to his business, in a way that was unthreatening, not pushy, or obvious. He just offered a space for it to happen.This, I think, is a fantastic use of the TweetUp. There will automatically be something there that you are interested in: other people who use Twitter. But the added bonus may be something else, such as experiencing a new coffee shop. So I am thinking that the Campus Archaeology Program should host a TweetUp at one of our sites, while we are excavating.
This is perfect for our mission, which is to engage the MSU and local communities in the discovery of MSU’s cultural heritage. Hosting a TweetUp allows all those people who have been following the excavations via my tweets to actually come and visit the site, and see first hand how archaeology is done. In essence, it would be like any other public archaeology day, except the added benefit is that everyone there uses Twitter. So that means that even if they have no interest in archaeology or MSU, they do have an interest in Twitter, and how it can be used in different ways.
So this idea got me thinking of other ideas: how could Student Affairs use the TweetUp? Easy. Host campus TweetUps. What if there was a TweetUp Tailgate hosted by the Department of Student Affairs. Food could be provided. Faculty, Staff, and students who use Twitter would know about it, show up, and network and meet each other, most for the first time. Nothing special is needed…the event itself is specifically to meet other people who use Twitter. This could be particularly beneficial on a large campus, such as MSU, where people who use Twitter may not be connected to people they want to be connected to.
How about a TweetUp Resource Fair? I know that a lot of different departments on campus use Twitter for a variety of reasons. For example, the Sexual Assault Program has a Twitter feed, along with other departments such as the MSU Surplus Store, or MSU Athletics. A TweetUp could be held at a place where each of these departments sets up a resource table, and students, staff, and faculty who use Twitter would be invited to a TweetUp. They could then engage with different departments, see who is using Twitter, follow who they want to follow, and engage with the MSU community on multiple levels.
I think there is a lot of potential with the TweetUp. I recently read a post by Merlin Mann, who has one of the most incredible internet presences out there, who said the following:
Take it as you will, but remember that the web is not you and it’s not me. The web is just a braindead platform for moving information around, but it’s not your actual friends. And, while it’s insanely understandable to tire of all the horseshit and look-at-me stuff, I must advise you: never miss an opportunity to meet the faces behind your favorite avatars. Especially when they’re all in one place? Wow.
This is what a TweetUp does: it allows you to meet the people who use the internet as a tool to meet people. Twitter is a medium that makes this very possible, easy, and quick. I think there is some value in it, and I think that the MeetUp is the way that it can be used to engage a community in a very real way.