Tweetups: The Rulez!

Posted on August 12, 2010


Flock of Seagulls?

Flying in formation has rulez, yo!

Tweetups have only been around a couple of years, so it may seem odd to write a post laying down the etiquette of something that’s still coming into being, but with the pace of change in social media there is ALWAYS no time like the present. Anything else risks becoming nothing more than reminiscence.

This post was triggered by an invitation going around to a “tweetup” which sounded, frankly, too good to be true. It was on a boat, motherfucker and included a splendid appetizer assortment with the promise of beverages of a celebratory variety, as well as high-level business people present, and who doesn’t like to hang around high-level business people to catch their scraps in this economy, eh?

So, anyway, so far, so good, right? Sounds awesome! Sounds, as I said, too good to be true. And it wasn’t.

True, that is.

Now, it was indeed on a boat, there was indeed food, there were indeed beverages and business people and the invitation did, apparently at least, go out on Twitter as well as being posted to which is a Ning site, which I hate but you probably know that already if you read this blog.

So what wasn’t true?

That it was a tweetup.

And that’s why I felt I had to write this post: to distinguish between events whose invitations are distributed via Twitter and actual Tweetups. How do I know these rules? Well, things are obviously still in flux but I’ve been around teh interwebs a long time and after that long somewhere you get to know the etiquette of the place. I’m well aware that the etiquette of marketing is to use as many buzzwords and platforms as possible, but that doesn’t mean that the marketing effort always obeys the etiquette of the platform on which it is occurring, as anyone who’s received a flyer at a funeral can attest (yes, it happens).

Tweetups have the following characteristics:

  • The invitations are sent out via Twitter. They may also be sent out on other platforms, but Twitter is the primary distribution channel.
  • The invitations are public and open, meaning anyone who sees them, including rts of rts of rts, is welcome to come. If you DM invitations, it is not a tweetup, and it would be VERY bad manners to invite someone along or publicly post DM invitations unless otherwise instructed.
  • The invitations may be spontaneous, as in, “Who wants to meet for lunch at Steamworks?” or planned out, ie “Thursday the 14th tweetup at Hastings Park, 2pm in the Diamond Room. Meet at the window.”
  • You pay for your own food and drink, if any, but there is no cost to attend. You are not obliged to order anything (which is annoying to restaurants who have their marketers call tweetups there to juice the till, but it’s a fact).

Tweetups do not have the following characteristics:

  • Primarily marketed via Facebook or websites.
  • Admission charge.
  • RSVP mandatory.
  • Restricted invitations, ie “you must be one of the people on this list or you are not welcome.”

The first one is a judgment call, but the last three? Are dealbreakers. If the event in question has any one of these characteristics, it’s not a Tweetup. With an entry fee of, I believe, $20, this party was no tweetup.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love a good party. I love a good party on a boat even more! I’m not saying this won’t be a terrific party. But some things are tweetups, some things are not, and let’s just get this distinction straight right now.

By the way: tweetup at Hastings Park this Sunday. 1:30pm at the beer garden on the rail; if raining, we’ll meet somewhere in the stands. That’s not a Tweetup, by the way, until I put it on Twitter, which I shall go and do now.

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