Holidays, hashtags, and the Herkimer: The birth of #tweetcrawl

Monday, December 28th, 2009

What do you get when you combine Twitter, holiday drinking, and a few dozen geeks in Minneapolis? Answer: #TweetCrawl!

This is a fine example of how social media can be used to build a community. And it was really great to be a part of this one. Here’s how it went down…

December 25th, 2009 – Erica and Tracy came up with the hashtag, #tweetcrawl,  to accompany their tweets about not heading out to the bars and instead staying at home to enjoy a little holiday beverage. Turns out a lot of people in the Twin Cities were doing the same thing and joined in on the conversation. Before we knew it, about 20+ people were participating in #tweetcrawl. People were sharing what their drink of choice was, posting pictures of them and their beverage, and engaging in some very hilarious conversation. It was so geeky. And so great.

A snapshot of the #tweetcrawl conversation

So then the conversation progressed to organizing an IRL (“In real life” for you non-techies) #tweetcrawl gathering the next day (which also happened to be my birthday). Fast forward to…

December 26, 2009 – About 15 or so participants from the previous night rendezvoused in Uptown at The Herkimer to continue the geeky conversations in person as well as meet new people. The cool thing? Most of us didn’t know each other prior to Twitter. I walked away with some new friends and a greater appreciation for the awesome community that is developing here in the Twin Cities. I was also very glad to have spent part of my birthday with so many nice, intelligent, and hysterical people. Starting off another year of existence making new connections may sound a little nerdy to some, but for me it was completely fitting.

Me and Desarae at The Herkimer for #tweetcrawl

What was missing from this whole thing? Participation from The Herkimer. Granted, this event was put together very last minute. But had The Herkimer had a Twitter account, they could have reamed the benefits of so much free publicity and actually participated in the conversation surrounding their brewery. A missed opportunity if you ask me. And a reminder why it is so important for businesses to be tuned into social media.

At the rate the #tweetcrawl following grew in just a couple of days, it will be interesting to see how this catches on with more people and restaurants in the Twin Cities. It would be smart for establishments to reach out to groups like this and try to incorporate their business. Invite #tweetcrawl to your bar. Offer some specials. Then see how that puts butts in seats. Not to mention tons of chatter surrounding your business. Oh, the power of Twitter…

Have you participated in a hashtag conversation that grew to something more? Led to face-to-face connections? Helped gain exposure for your business? Please share!

Twitter Lists: A work in progress

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

I know Twitter lists have been out for a minute now, but I’ve finally worked with them enough to develop an opinion on them worthy of a blog post (hopefully, at least!).

My overall thought: Their intention is good, but they’ve got a little ways to go before I’d consider making any more of my own.

For starts, had I known it was going to take me an hour to compile a list of Twin Cities folks I probably wouldn’t have started it in the first place. As of right now, there is no search or filter option to put together a list quickly. And when you’re following around 1,200 people, clicking through each profile one-by-one to see if they belong on your list is extremely tedious and time consuming.  

Once I completed that list, I told myself I wouldn’t do it again until some changes were made. So why I decided to make another one for PR folks is beyond me. But once I started I couldn’t stop. Maybe it was my mild OCD that took over. Who knows.

So far, I haven’t really referred to my lists that much. I think mainly because I already have a good sense for who it is I’m following. But I have taken a look at a number of lists that belong to people I find interesting. The value I’ve found in that is I’ve been able to connect with people I didn’t know were out there.

I can see how lists would be really helpful for those who follow 10,000+ people. Having a way to organize all those different tweets is probably a relief. I’d just like to know who and when they find time to create them!

But thank you to Twitter to creating this feature. I can’t knock them for being innovative. Chances are they’ll update lists to be more user-friendly very soon. Until then, I’ll be holding off on creating any more of my own.

There has been a lot of talk about Twitter lists in the blogosphere. Here are a couple posts I found particularly helpful in understanding their value and potential:

10 Ways You Can Use Twitter Lists by Sarah Evans on Mashable

Twitter Lists As A Networking Tool by MN Headhunter, Paul DeBettignies

Why tweet?

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Soon after I made my blog public last week, I naturally told my family and friends about my little side project and encouraged them to check it out. It quickly became apparent that a lot of what I wrote about went completely over their heads. Most of them don’t use social media or don’t understand Twitter and why I find it to be so great.

So for anyone reading this that has never used Twitter, I’d highly recommend taking a trip to this blog post: Web Designer Depot – The Ultimate Guide for Everything Twitter. It does a good job of breaking everything down with screen shots and defining lots of commonly used terms.

{Bonus points to anyone who can spot how yours truly is incorporated into that post!}

Aside from how Twitter can be useful in a public relations sense, I thought I’d explain how it has helped me in my personal life.

The main thing that got me completely hooked on tweeting is the instant connection to an entire community of people who share my interests. The majority of people I follow are from the Twin Cities or have a hand in PR, marketing, or communications. Of course, I’ll admit that I’m also one of the 2 million plus people that follows P. Diddy. (I love that celebrities use Twitter just like the rest of us!) 

With this community so readily accessible at my fingertips, I’ve been able to meet tons of great people I probably would have never met otherwise. Actually, there’s a chance I could have met them at some point, but most likely not as many or as easily as I have through Twitter.

And since it’s always easier to prove a point with examples, here’s a short list of different things I’ve been able to exchange as a result of connections made through Twitter: 

  • Job search advice
  • Restaurant recommendations
  • HTML tips for a project I was working on
  • Articles upon articles (a great way to learn and stay on top of what’s going on in your industry – people like to share the good stuff out there!)
  • Retail and food discounts
  • Book reviews
  • Networking event invites

The list could keep going, but the point is that Twitter is more than just telling the world you’re headed to the grocery store or your dog just ate an entire box of crayons. It’s about interacting, engaging, and offering advice where you can. It’s really cool to watch people actively helping other people out – one of my favorite things about Twitter. I think many people have an initial fear of making connections and getting to know those outside of their initial circle. To really make use of Twitter, you need to get over that fear and just start talking. There are so many people ready to exchange ideas and pass along information you actually want that ANYONE can find value in Twitter.

For my fellow tweet addicts, how has Twitter made an impact on your everyday life? And how do you explain why you tweet?

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