There is science and art to hosting a great Tweetup, or any event for that matter. The art I can’t teach. It’s something you’re either born with it or not. You have to have the right personality for it. The science I can help you with! I get at least one email/tweet/DM a week asking for advice and help about tweetups so I thought I might as well write a post for interested individuals to use as a reference. I promise, I didn’t come up with the name Mr. Tweetup of Chicago. Someone gave it to me!
Rule #1: Get an Eventbrite account right now! It’ll take a minute or two.
Rule #2: Make sure you did rule#1!
Man, that never gets old.
I have used many event management services and to this date Eventbrite has been my favorite and that’s why I haven’t stopped using it since I started. Why do you ask? Above all, it’s very user friendly and intuitive. There’s never something difficult to figure out. Even if there is, help is always a click, tweet or phone call away. I’ll tell you more about Eventbrite in a bit.
1) The venue plays a major part in hosting a successful tweetup. You’ll want to pick a spot that creates a special experience for the attendees. Hosting a tweetup at a bar everyone already attends once a month will probably be a bad choice for you. Think of a place that you have never been or been there few times and it’s not a place people would normally go to without a special occasion. When it comes to tweetups, it’s the destination and not the journey that matters. Keep in mind, you’ll want the journey to be a short walk or cab ride away.
So you found a great underground lounge that has servers reciting Hitchcock movies and only Hitchcock movies. Whatever you tell them, they have to reply by quoting a Hitchcock movie. You-you eat like a bird!
2) Get hold of the manager of the venue. Explain to him or her how great tweetups are, what they entail, number of people you think will attend, dates, times and anything else that they would have to do to prepare for the tweetup. I always ask if they can display tweets from attendees on a large screen. Also, a theme is always a great way to tell people why they should come to your event. Is it to celebrate the faux spring we have in Chicago? 4ht of July? Your grandmother’s 100th birthday or you getting a new job? Try to get the invite ready about 3 weeks before the tweetup.
3) WOW, look at you! You’re already done with 2 very important tasks. Now comes Eventbrite role. I’m sure you’ve created an account by now because you’re a good person and you read my instructions and created an account. You also love dolphins! Right? Go to “my events” section then click on creating an event. That’s half of the work done! Now, come up with a title for your event. Try to make it simple and to the point but at the same time don’t use boring words. If your event is about decorating cupcakes, don’t title event “how to decorate cupcakes” but “turn your cupcake into an art masterpiece”.
In the body of the invitation, give more details about the event. What? Where? Who? Why? When? Eventbrite will already have a sidebar for you to enter the place/time but it never hurts to put it in more than one place. You can also add your logo to the event page! I always like adding photos of the venue as well to give attendees an idea of what to expect. Here are two examples from prior events I’ve hosted. Example 1 and example 2.
3.5) The rest of the steps on Eventbrite will allow you to further customize your event page! You can specify privacy, collect specific info from attendees, list your event in a directory or change themes. If you have a general knowledge of HTML then I HIGHLY recommend reading this post and your design options will increase infinitely. Check out this page and start dreaming about the possibilities! I recommend clicking preview and making sure everything looks good. Once you did and corrected any errors go ahead and hit publish. Congratulations. Your event is now LIVE! I could go one forever about the ways you can use Eventbrite for your tweetup but that’s another post or five. I do know that the fantastic @BriteChicago is there to help if you have any questions about events you’re hosting in Chicago. If your event is hosted some where else, I’m sure she’ll connect you with someone who can help in your city!
4) Now comes the fun part! Email, tweet and Facebook everyone about your event! This is how you’ll create buzz about your tweetup or event. Send out emails to people in your community letting them know about the tweetup and ways to share it with others. I send out a tweet during the morning, afternoon and night because we all know not everyone is online at the same time. Don’t get obnoxious though. No one wants to hear about your tweetup every waking second of their life! I also create a Facebook event with details about how people can RSVP for the tweetup! See, wasn’t that super easy and productive?
5) It’s the day before the event! Email or call the venue to make sure there is nothing to be done. Email your guests reminding them about the event (Eventbrite will automatically do that for you 48 hrs before event).The day of the tweetup, email the venue again with a final count of attendees so they can plan accordingly. Print name badges. Arrive at the venue 45 minutes early, that will give you time to fix any last minute errors and make sure everything is set to go. Are you going to have tweets that include the hashtag for the event up on a screen? Is your computer hooked up properly to a monitor?
By the way, I’ll save you a lot of future anxiety and tell you this: THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMETHING THAT GOES WRONG at some point so don’t take it too hard on yourself and learn to roll with the punches. I learned it the hard way and after so many tweetups I’ve just come to expect (and be 100% ok with it) that something will not go the way I planned. That advice will make your life so much easier! Feel free to thank me by taking me out for breakfast.
6) It’s finally ten minutes before the event start and people start coming in. You feel great! All this hard work paid-off and people are having a great time. You mingle, have a drink and wonder about where the after party will be.
Please share your other tips in the comments section and happy tweetup-ing!