I will be honest. The first time I heard about the intention of the Jamaica Pegasus to host a tweetup, I dismissed it. I was not convinced that twitter had enough of a critical mass to make the event well attended and interesting. Looking at the reviews of the first tweetup, I realised that I was very wrong. Jamaica has a large and diverse community of tweeps who merge the use of twitter with other social media applications for a dizzying array of purposes. Be it personal journaling, marketing or showing of their hobbies, the tweeps represent.
So last Friday, I attended the #jptweetup redux. It was a tremendous success. One count estimates that there were at least 300 attendees. A large part of this success is the manner in which the event was put together by the Pegasus. The online registration process was easy and so too was the process of gaining entry in the gardens where the event was held. Another plus was the layout: bars in sensible locations and a decent number of sitting and standing tables. The drink, food and music were first rate.
The twitter fountain was a brilliant idea. It really got people tweeting about the event and what was going on in situ. And the interplay between the MC and the crowd was played out over the fountain. This interplay kept the crowd engaged and the evening lively.
Why Tweetups Matter
But Jamaica has plenty of social gatherings, parties and meet-ups you say. What makes this one different? A great deal has been said about twitter and progressive marketing. I’m not going to cover well worn territory, but say what I noticed at the tweetup.
#1 – A large number of tweeps provides a strong basis for drumming up interest in a company’s products, obtaining feedback and is a ready made group on which research can be conducted. @marciaforbes has already noted that 40% more females than males completed the questionnaire she and her team administered at the event. I will be interested to see what other empirical observations she comes up with.
These gatherings also facilitate teasing out the varied perspectives of users of social media technologies. In the company of Endz of the Earth and some other attendees, I noted that I have not gotten into the Four Square craze that has been gripping the island. One attendee noted that some companies offer free goodies once you check-in online. So, ‘they had me at free.’ Point taken. But another attendee remarked that Twitter and Four Square can only help sell products people want to buy. Why is this not obvious to some companies?
#2 – Social media events often highlight the extent to which social norms change as people adopt new technologies. As one tweep noted, ‘there were blackberries to stone dog.’ This is one of the few events where it was perfectly acceptable to be tapping away while interacting with people. However, this is bleeding over into other social spaces as well. I have seen it at parties and dinners. People who accuse me of this at parties are wrong and will be punished accordingly.
#3 – The great reviews of the first tweet up built a buzz for the second event that an expensive 30 second commercial often cannot create. The number of exchanges progressively grew days leading up to the event. This was something that average everyday people were excited about, not some celebrity or pretty girl trying to sell you something. NCB, Calico Jack and Palace Amusement were just some of the firms on board. Several people noted that they were not previously aware of some service or product which one of the firms offered. I have not thought about the Pegasus’ brunch offerings for years. But following their timeline influenced me to go recently.
#4 – People are social animals and despite the importance of social media for connecting people, especially across great distances, the importance of in person interaction will not disappear. In person contacts can forge or solidify social relationships.
It was great to meet many people who I often interact with online, and others who I should be interacting with. They were very willing to share their knowledge and experiences. I had no idea discontent with the quality and censorship issues that plague online media in Jamaica was so widespread. People are willing to share horror stories in person that they are more reticent to post or tweet.
Blipsterfarian’s verdict? This one was a win.