The CMO's Guide to Tweetups

the power of specialized think ing

Photo Credit: (NASA/Carla Cioffi)

Driving Sales, Building Loyalty:

2009 was a tough year for the media giants. Many stumbled; some fell. But in the midst of all the uncertainty, a new one arose: Twitter. Twitter is an unusual sort of colossus. Rather than towering over your company like all the mainstream media brands, Twitter surrounds it — with thousands of individual voices talking about you. Whose voices are these? They're your customers and investors. They're your partners and analysts. They're super-connected influencers with voracious appetites for information. And they're waiting for you — or your competition — to reach out and invite them to a tweetup.

team. Think of it as a briefing with people who have the distribution capabilities of journalists — but the bias of sports fans.

purchasers: •

26% are Creators, who have
already established their own social media channels.

Who are your Tweeps?
Despite the stereotypes about users of social media, tweeps aren’t a bunch of people who prefer to stare at their iPhones instead of talking with other human beings. Their most defining characteristic is the ability to have a great conversation. They're interesting and interested. Their hyper-sharing online is mirrored by hyper-sharing offline. And given the friendly nature of social channels, there's much more of a "we're all in this together" feel than you would find at an industry conference. Most important, tweeps aren’t a bunch of isolated outliers who exist on the fringes of your business. They’re your customers or those who influence them. A 2009 Forrester Groundswell Study reports significant social media usage among B2B technology •

28% are Joiners, who are

members of social networking groups like LinkedIn and Facebook. regularly read user-generated content on blogs and forums.

68% are Spectators who

What’s a Tweetup?
A tweetup is a short-term gathering of Twitter users. It can be an in-person event, such as a conference or seminar. It can be a virtual event, as when fans of the TV show “Lost” gather online during the broadcast to share comments and links to information. Many companies, particularly those in business-to-business disciplines, are starting to use tweetups as a part of their marketing efforts to give their customers, prospects, and category aficionados a glimpse of the world that they care deeply about, but never have access to. Tweeps (the people who attend tweetups) are treated to factory tours, educational presentations, and Q&As with the company’s experts and members of its management

Interesting factoid: According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project survey, 28% of Twitter users own three mobile devices, and 39% own four or more.

Photo Credit: (NASA/Carla Cioffi)

100 tweeps at NASA's launch of shuttle Atlantis

Does your company have tweeps? Here are two quick ways to find out.
OpTiOn 1: Go to WeFollow. com. This site is a directory of Twitter users who have picked five words to describe who they are and what they tweet about. Type in keywords that describe your sector. The number alongside these terms shows how many people have chosen that term as part of their five-word identification. Click on the term and a list of twitterers will appear, ranked by the number of followers they have. Those are the pillars of your community. They may not know it yet. But now you do. OpTiOn 2: You can also do a search for keywords on search. Look for people with bios that match your target audiences, who have mentioned your company’s name, your product names, those of your competitors, and associated ticker symbols. Search for terms that are only used by people in your field; the more obscure the term, the more knowledgeable the person is who’s using it.

Tweetups aren’t just about Twitter.
Though the name makes it sound like everyone will just be using Twitter, tweeps bring a host of social media tools to these events. You should expect (and encourage) people to live-blog, record videos for YouTube, take pictures for Flickr and record interviews for podcasts. By embracing these mediums, CMos will see their messages spread much further, much faster and with a great deal of credibility.

thousand. For a B2B company, that’s worth more than the millions of semi-well-targeted people that mass media channels deliver.

2. Generate understanding.
even before the Great Recession, the mainstream media lacked the means to cover every company’s activities in the depth they deserve. For tweetups, the economics are radically different: • Tweeps are highly interested in subjects often too narrow for mainstream media. • Tweeps have unlimited space to write tweets, blog posts, and create video and audio content about your company. • Tweeps are often more knowledgeable about your sector than mainstream reporters, and they care far less about what’s new than what's interesting. These mutually reinforcing factors deliver coverage that is remarkably deep and can build understanding of your company in a way no other medium can.

Why tweetups make sense for B2B.
Ironically, companies in the B2B sector have the most to gain from tweetups, yet to date they have been the most shy about deploying them. A tweetup’s combination of highly educated, highly skilled people who have a deep interest in a narrow subject and a desire to share information with like-minded people makes it an ideal vehicle for business-to-business marketing. Here are six reasons why:

1. Create visibility.
A tweetup generates a lot of digital ink. If you have 20 tweeps in a room, they may have a combined readership that rivals your industry’s biggest trade magazine once the information fully spreads online. Consider this: Take the number of followers that each Twitter user brings (virtually) into the room. Multiply that by the number of tweeps at the event. Multiply that by the number of tweets, blog posts, videos and other online entries the tweeps will create. now multiply that by the number of re-tweets, reblogs and other sharing activity. The hyper-targeted nature of this visibility can’t be overstated. If a thousand people are following your tweetup online, it’s a fairly safe bet that they’re a perfectly targeted

3. Stimulate sales.
Some of the best tweeps you can invite to a tweetup come from your customer ranks. They’re already invested in your field and eager to share their passion with others. Far from being "virtual" experiences, tweetups are all about shaking hands, slapping backs and being, well, social. A customer who spends a day at your tweetup will leave feeling more loyal to your company and with a better understanding of what it offers. Granted, crossing the boundary between marketing and sales may be fraught with cultural difficulties. But the fact is, your customers are already covering your sector like the media. A straightforward way to resolve potential conflicts is to treat everyone at the tweetup like a

VIP, and have PR and Sales jointly monitor a short list of tweeting customers. It will quickly become clear who needs to be made aware of (or respond to) a customer’s tweet.

Their coverage will be found by analysts and investors, educating them in a way no other medium can.

5. Promote trust.
The act of holding a tweetup is concrete proof that a company is trying to be open, honest and transparent. And in an age where trust in corporations is at a low, replenishing goodwill and humanizing management is critical. And should a crisis hit your company, the people who attended your tweetup will be much more willing to listen to your side of the story, communicate it to their followers, and — depending on how honest, good intentioned and simply human you came off during the tweetup — come to your defense.

4. Attract investors.
If your company is publicly held, consider inviting analysts who tweet to your tweetup. While there are strict regulations and compliance issues that must be observed, there’s a mountain of information that’s safe for companies to release to the investment world, much of which gets lost in product sheets and background documents, but which is interesting to this audience: • Your culture of innovation • The thinking that goes into your products • How safety is maintained • Environmental and sustainability issues Tweeps love to explain how things work, giving credit where it’s due for complexity and breakthroughs.

• Number of tweets • Number of people who received the tweets • Tweet tonality • Content • Number of new followers • Number of blog posts, videos, podcasts, with respective sizes of audience, topic and tonality measurements • Sales inquiries • Increased awareness among target audiences • Increased knowledge of key messages among target audiences • Sentiment change among target audiences (particularly in quality, trust, transparency, thought leadership levels) • Sales leads • Job applicants

6. Attract talent.
Despite the recession, the hunt is always on for top talent, especially for highly skilled technical workers. Technologists love Twitter and social media. They like learning new things and “geeking out” with fellow engineers and scientists. Tweetups are a great way to share information about the company’s culture.

Fitting tweetups into your marketing strategy.
A tweetup isn’t just an event, it’s a promise to a community that you will listen, and keep information lines open. A promise that you’re lifting a perceived veil of secrecy. A promise that you’re listening, as well as speaking. A promise that you’ll keep the information lines open, feeding them more of what they want. In many ways, it’s just like any other street-level promotion or grass roots political event. But unlike those familiar marketing tactics, a tweetup has the ability to generate a number of success metrics. • Tweeps in attendance

Photo Credit: (NASA/Carla Cioffi)

Photo Credit: (NASA/Carla Cioffi)

Mike Massimino, first human to tweet from space

Tweetup perks: goddies and glamor

organizing a Tweetup:

on november 15 and 16, 2009, the national Aeronautics and Space Administration held a tweetup for the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis. one of Makovsky's social media experts was one of only 100 tweeps to attend. As a result, we had a firsthand view of nASA’s impressive planning and execution of the event. This was NASA’s fifth tweetup and it provides a textbook example of best practices for such a event. What follows is a list of the lessons learned — some strategic, some tactical, some big-picture and some quite granular — that you can use to develop your own company’s tweetup.

nASA and tweeps who have other jobs. Twitter wasn’t just a medium of communication; it was a badge of belonging. • Employ a fair selection process. nASA selected the 100 tweeps who would have the privilege to participate in the event by setting up a website and letting the first 100 people to sign up “win.” The only qualifier was that you already had to be a follower of the @nASA Twitter feed. Plenty of notice was given; Ask NASA: How has using social media on a daily basis changed your job? “It’s changed it primarily in how much time we spend on a new medium. But it has changed it in a more important way. Which is we have direct contact with people who have a vested interest in the nation’s space program. And that’s the people that we’re trying to reach anyway when we put out news releases or have a news briefing or whatever. The media is just our medium to get the word out. So with social media we get the word out directly to the people who are interested and I think that’s awesome.”
Stephanie Schierholz NASA PR
Watch the full interview at:

no one could complain that they had been left out for not being a booster or having too few followers. • Recognize that the value of a tweetup to participants isn’t just the information they receive; it’s the interaction. nASA gave participants the space and time to talk with each other, hang out, learn and enjoy. Don’t fill every minute with your content – allow time for mingling. • Give tweeps a head start. Before beginning the event, organizers gave the tweeps a full hour to settle in, plug in, boot up, and otherwise get their geek on. • A tweetup isn’t a press conference. Because they're citizen journalists, tweeps need to be treated differently from reporters, analysts and others. That doesn’t mean Twitter users shouldn’t be invited to other kinds of events; just don’t call them tweetups.

1. Play by the culture’s rules.
The Twitter community, like any other, has a set of cultural norms and behavioral rules that you’ll need to observe to be successful: • Use Twitter for at least six months to develop a following. nASA began using Twitter in 2008 for its Mars/ Phoenix probe, using it to distribute information, answer questions, re-tweet insightful commentary, and encourage non-PR people, in this case astronauts, to use Twitter to directly communicate with the public. When it was time to organize a tweetup, nASA had a steady audience of dedicated followers. • Establish common ground. The people who led the event were already on Twitter as individuals, a factor that cannot be underestimated. When the tweeps arrived in the presentation room, there was no “us vs. them.” Instead, there was only “us” — tweeps who worked for

2. Cultivate the new community.
Some of the people in the room at nASA knew each other before the tweetup. others got to know each other in the weeks running up to the event. But once the event started, the 100 people in attendance started to experience things as a group, and therefore become a community. • Establish a separate Twitter feed for the event. nASA created a separate @nASAtweetup feed which streamlined their communications to attendees and freed up the @nASA primary feed

for wider communication with the public. Interestingly, since this was nASA’s fifth tweetup, and they’ve used the @nASAtweetup account on a rolling basis, the newest tweeps were able to reference the comments of the previous ones. • Designate a hashtag. nASA chose #nasatweetup before a community member could, picking the shortest and least used hash for their own use. • provide a tweep directory. using Twitter’s new list-building feature, nASA built a list of the 100 tweeps that everyone could access and share. At the event, nASA handed each person a printout with people’s @names listed.

already gotten to know each other virtually in the weeks running up to the event, there was a higher degree of camaraderie and trust than you see at other events. Still, to break the ice, nASA put "space gadgets" in the middle of each table and asked people to figure out what they were. It got people talking with each other and was one of the earliest shared experiences. • Use big screens with integrated feeds. Large screens, showing all the tweets using #nASAtweetup posted in real time, have become standard at Tweetups, but it’s a tactic never to be overlooked. • Create a group “artifact.” nASA procured the wheel of a shuttle that had been to space and placed it outside the twent (Twitter “media tent”) for everyone to sign. It was yet another way to make the moment feel special and bring people together. • Be open about glitches. At least twice, nASA’s PR staff asked everyone in the middle of the event if anyone was having problems with wifi. Several hands went up. Just imagine the frustration that builds if you’ve arrived for a tweetup and can’t tweet! nASA won a lot of people’s hearts in that moment, and you can do the same with your tweeps. • post signs galore. There were professionally printed signs everywhere: at the signup area, on the buses, outside the “twent”… It made everyone feel special and that nASA took us seriously. • Drip, drip flair. At nearly every transition point, such as when people got back on the buses after a session, people found nASA informational materials on their seats. It gave strangers who hadn’t talked yet something to speak about and smile at together. A small but important touch.

Ask NASA: What tips would you have for people trying to coordinate a tweetup? “…you have to be able to react quickly…things are happening in real time. If you don’t respond in that moment, it’s lost.” Stephanie Schierholz NASA PR

• Use round tables. At the first day’s session we sat at small round tables that made conversation and community building easy. This contrasted with the next day’s event which was set up like a press conference; long rows of tables facing a single podium. The first day’s setup was the model of social media, the next day’s exemplified the traditional media model. A nASA PR pro later shared that their next tweetup will feature only round tables. • Hold an ice breaker. Given that everyone was there for the same reason, and many people had

Photo Credit: (NASA/Carla Cioffi)

Logistics: the hidden hero of any launch

• provide special access. At several points, tweetup attendees were given special access to sites, such as a field across from the shuttle launch pad that is normally closed off from the public. They weren’t shy about saying how much the tours usually cost, or how rare access to a certain site is, making us feel privileged and special.

photographer and videographer on hand, capturing content that could be re-tweeted, re-blogged and otherwise distributed through each person’s social channels. • provide public domain materials. nASA provided pictures and videos that were explicitly in the public domain. The last thing a tweetup organizer wants is for people to hold back on posting because they’re afraid of violating intellectual property rights. • Schedule with Twitter traffic levels in mind. If you’re looking to have a substantial virtual audience, take care with the date and time you hold your tweetup. nASA held the first part of their Tweetup early on a Sunday morning, a time when traffic is at its lowest. This made it easier for #nASAtweetup to get onto the “trending topics” list (a running list of tags posted on that shows which topics are being cited most frequently), which in turn attracted a wider audience. • purposefully incite tweets. As if all the previous techniques weren’t enough, nASA specifically incited tweets at certain points. For example, speakers steadily rolled out educational factoids, such as 80 percent of shuttle flights take off on time. • Ask people to speak in 140 characters. Right after launch, one of the nASA people asked everyone to verbally express what they saw in 140 characters, instigating poetic descriptions that, in terms of brevity, put haikus to shame. The ship had already launched a thousand tweets; this request set off a few more. • ply the crowd with trivia games and prizes. Throughout the two-day tweetup, nASA’s PR team continually engaged the group with trivia questions and

Ask the Journalist: How has social media changed the journalist’s approach?
“…What we discovered very quickly is if...a few tweets to the right people, you're going to find the right audience very quickly. That's the beauty of social networking. This exponential nature of friends telling friends. That if you get to the right group, if you can get to the choir, the choir knows instantly, and then the beauty of it is the choir has friends too and they start bringing other people into the tent.” "There's an audience out there that really wants to bore in on a subject, an inch wide, 500 miles deep, right? And that's what you can't do in mainstream media." “…You form these virtual communities that are actually taking the place of editors at Cnn. Actually sifting through the information and helping people understand what's good what's not, what's true, what's not. And so it's kind of like an editorial board of the commons, and it works. And there is so much expertise out there that hasn't been [tapped]...and frankly, a lot of what you saw in mainstream media was just a few little people who were in your rolodex and were frequently put on television. And they were — that was deemed to be the expert. There's a lot more to the world, a lot of expert opinion out there that was never touched by mainstream media.”
Miles O’Brien, formerly of CNN
Watch the full interview at:

3. Match the content to the medium.
Here are some tips: • Manage the stream. There was a steady flow of information, comprised of short presentations on a wide variety of topics. This enabled tweeters to switch back and forth between listening to presenters who interested them, and participants sitting next to them. • Speak to wide variety of topics. Some topics made the engineers swoon; others were meant for the humanities majors. • Feature interesting people telling interesting stories. Chief among these was Mike Massimino, who has flown two missions to space and was the first astronaut to tweet from space (he has more than one million followers; more than @nASA). • provide things to touch. Tweeps were given objects to touch and photograph and take videos of, like the shuttle tiles that contributed to the breakup of Columbia. Feeling the heat shield tiles crack under light pressure of fingertips made the danger of spaceflight more understandable. • Employ professional multimedia. Sure, tweeps celebrate the democratization of media. But that doesn’t mean they won’t value or use a professionally created photo or video. nASA had a professional

prizes. It’s important to note that the prizes weren’t valuable in and of themselves. (they were mostly from the tweetup). It was the opportunity for recognition that people enjoyed.

numerous devices, some of which have plugs that will take up two sockets. • Supply login info. Send the ID and password to the attendees days — if not weeks — ahead of the tweetup. nASA did this and it saved everyone a lot of time and headaches. • Have iT support standing by. Have tech people on hand to help out with troubleshooting. Macs are popular at these events, so have people who know both major systems. • Ask about problems. once an

hour, ask the crowd if anyone’s having tech problems, and have them raise their hands so they can be helped. • Use multiple forms of communication. Include a dedicated twitter feed, email and even good old-fashioned phone numbers. • print the schedule and keep to the schedule. Set expectations from the beginning that everything will start and end on time. Remember, unlike most frustrated crowds, everyone in attendance is on Twitter and will be eager to use it to vent their frustrations.

4. Rock the logistics.
There is one Commandment that must always be observed: Thou shalt not underestimate the amount of wifi, cell signal and tech support that will be needed at thy tweetup. • provide power. Have power strips in the middle of the table. Count at least four plugs for every person in order to satisfy

The 100 tweeps' gift to NASA PR for opening up, educating and entertaining

Use of nASA images, images and quotes of people cited in this white paper do not constitute an implied endorsement of Makovsky + Company.

Makovsky + Company's Social Media Services
Social Media Audit
Similar to a traditional media audit, Makovsky’s Social Media Audits examine a company's visibility in channels such as blogs, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn and Facebook in order to assess the company’s reputation online. The report also serves as a benchmark against which to measure the effectiveness of reputation building programs.

Social Media Monitoring

on a daily basis, Makovsky tracks what is being said about a company and its industry in social media, providing clients with rich, real-time intelligence on what its clients and prospects are concerned about. During crisis situations monitoring is done on a 24-hour basis to give management the best insights possible to aid decision making.

policy Development
Though most companies have "online policies," they often don't address social media. Makovsky works with companies to create customized policies that fit their culture, liability risks and new business priorities.

Blogger Relations

Given the acceleration of journalist layoffs over the last three years, and growth of Americans who regularly read blogs, there's never been a greater need for companies to reach out to their stakeholders through the blogosphere. Reports and studies are valued by bloggers, though the tools traditionally used to disseminate them – press releases and pitch phone calls—are not effective in generating coverage. Makovsky's social media R&D team has developed new tools and techniques for working with bloggers that reach highly targeted audiences, resulting in quantifiable buzz, increases in website traffic, and a direct, measurable link to sales.

Group Relations

Similar to its work in the blogosphere, Makovsky regularly conducts outreach to communities that have assembled online. While online groups focus on a diverse variety of topics, their members are uniformly enthusiastic about spreading information. As such, they are key influencers on- and off-line, and critical audiences for companies to reach. Makovsky is steeped in the etiquette and cultural nuances of these groups, and applies that expertise on behalf of companies to aid their sales, reputational and staff recruitment goals.

Message Magnification

Featuring a technique invented by a Makovsky executive and unveiled at the 2006 Bulldog Media Relations Conference, the firm uses "messagewords" to enable press releases, speeches, articles to appear in response to keywords in searches, blog posts, email content and online mainstream media articles. Messagewords are a powerful PR tool that can be used to deliver sales and change stakeholder behaviors, and are particularly effective when the content involved is complex and meant for sophisticated audiences.

Image Unification
The growth of social media and the proliferation of websites that compile profiles of people without their permission have led to the fracturing of executives' images. The resulting confusion on behalf of customers and investors seeking information undermines a company's reputation. To lower these risks, Makovsky engages its proprietary "image unification" measures to create a single identity that key audiences can find no matter where they look.

Online Executive positioning

executive Positioning programs typically build a leader's reputation through visibility in the media and speaking at conferences. But the rise of social media means that a person's image is often perceived to be whatever comes first in a search engine. To close this gap, Makovsky first plays "defense," seeking out and mitigating potentially negative information about an executive online, and then "offense," magnifying the executive's positive attributes through a variety of social media channels.

Social Media Channel Creation
The decline in numbers of traditional media, coupled with rising expectations of audiences to receive detailed information direct from companies, has motivated an increasing number of companies to run their own media channels. Deploying blogs, YouTube channels, Twitter feeds or other channels, Makovsky works with its clients to set up attractive interfaces, set an editorial direction, write/develop content on a daily basis, and finally, promote it to readers through traditional and social channels.

Social Media SWAT Team

While companies go to great lengths and expense to hold events, the intellectual content developed at them usually disappears when the last guest leaves. Makovsky harnesses this latent reputational asset and spreads the event’s content through blogs, Twitter feeds, and online groups. The result? Higher attendance, quantifiable “buzz” during the event, and reams of intelligence on the attendees to be used for sales or reputation-enhancing efforts.

Community Creation

Few actions can benefit a company's sales, reputation and customer service more than the mobilizing of people into a new online community. Makovsky uses popular tools such as LinkedIn groups, wikis and ning to organize groups, and manages the day-to-day needs of the community. These groups can be tapped for feedback on new ideas, products and services, can become advocates for a public affairs goal, or, in some cases, become volunteer R&D or research resources, providing free—but very high quality—work in the name of a joint goal.


David Rosen

Group Vice President Makovsky + Company 212.508.9690

Linkedin: Twitter: @davidhrosen

the power of specialized think ing

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