Twitter is a great platform to reach out to friends, colleagues, and countless numbers of people who think your tweets are interesting, informative, or fun. Bridging the divide between 140 characters and 140 people live in-person can be successful for your personal Twitter brand or a horrifying failure.
Choosing a Halloween event for your first Tweetup event, where you invite your Twitter followers to a party, is a good way to start navigating these waters. Everyone loves a holiday, and Halloween provides a great opportunity for your Twitter followers to meet up and stay semi-anonymous via creative-costume choices. Halloween parties also have a reputation for being casual, fun, and a little wild – which limits the awkward-factor that creeps into Twitter parties aimed at more formal networking.
Choose the right venue.
If you tweet about successfully navigating the corporate finance world your audience is probably different than the guy who tweets about homebrew. Choose the price level, venue size, and physical location based upon the number of people you think might show and their interests/budget. You also want to make sure the venue has cell reception or WiFi access. Your event will be even more successful if participants can live-Tweet while having fun. Unless you are only expecting a few people, you may want to work with the venue to reserve a space for your event participants.
Develop a theme or hook.
You will need to be able to promote your event for at least a week (maybe two!) before the event. Think through how the party will go. What will draw your Twitter followers to want to show up? Do you have some popular Twitter Users attending? Is there are costume contest? What will make your party fun? Will there be a cover charge? Some of the most interesting people you know will have many options for celebrating Halloween, and you want them to pick your event. It’s probably not a good idea to advertise an open bar, but plan on providing some appetizers or drink tickets to your attendees. You can work with the venue to plan something that is in your budget and that they are comfortable with providing. Pick a public location: unless you are an eccentric millionaire with excellent private security, you should avoid inviting all of Twitter to your house.
Create an invitation that is longer than 140 characters.
Use a website like meetup.com, Eventbrite, or even cross-promote on Facebook to create an invitation that is informative and creative to help promote and managed your event. You can always create a page on your own website to promote the event, but using tools for communicating with people who are planning on attending might be really valuable should you need to make any changes in venue or rain-date planning.
A real-world party requires real-world planning
If the event is in an open location, how will party goers tell the difference between Twitter party-goers and everyone else? Name tags are really helpful to translate between Twitter and reality. Unless your party is a formal networking event, your Twitter followers will probably appreciate being able to fill in and design their own @username. Provide name tags and plenty of fun markers and pens. You can also count on more people showing up than those who’ve RSVP’d. Make sure your venue is prepared for 15-20% more than expected.
Make sure you plan out how the party works in real time. This includes when announcements, contests, and even last-call and clean-up will work – just like any other party.
Promote. Promote. Promote.
Use Twitter to promote your Halloween party to your followers. Make sure to use varied announcements that are creative and fun. Use pictures, videos, and other teasers to get your followers interested in your party. You can take pictures of party favors and post them to Instagram, or create a video montage of horrible Halloween costumes and link to YouTube. Make the messages varied and creative. Don’t hound your potential guests – entice and intrigue them.
Enjoy your party, live-Tweet, and thank your followers
Make sure to take a few pictures /videos and tweet from your event: you want the followers who didn’t show to be jealous and look forward to your next party. Send thank-you tweets to everyone who came. The folks who had fun will become your best promotional tool in the future.