It was a friendly, fun night and met people I had never met before but followed on Twitter such as @deliciousmedia (who helped bring the event to Sydney) & had open and engaging conversations with others. We wore nametags with our Twitter handles on them, so there was an opening conversation move right there. The vibe of the Australian Centre for Photography in Paddington was great – it was “insta-community”.
Out of the people attending, there was a contingent from Amnesia, a few from Social Media Breakfast, most were people who hadn’t met before. In a previous post, 7 Ways Twitter shifts the social media paradigm, my favourite is still:
Twitter is about talking to people you don’t know, but would like to meet.
I came up with this truism after attending my first Sydney Underground Twitter Brigade (STUB) event. So what happens when you do meet people you follow, or engage with or just see conversing on Twitter – in real life? Here’s how Twitter can help you have more fun in your social life and why you should attend your next local tweetup
- Twitter helps you engage in conversations with people you don’t know. Re-tweeting, including others in threads through @replies, replying to comments that interest you, following people on Twitter based on what they are tweeting, help start conversations with Twitter people you haven’t met (and may never meet) in real life. It doesn’t stop them being genuine conversations, no matter what the medium. It isn’t about the technology, its about the online experience.
- Twitter helps you speak more succinctly. 140 characters forces you to laser your rambling thoughts and turns you into a better conversationalist. It’s a discipline: getting your point across in limited space, and constant tweeting does help you write better. You can also go lateral and talk about the crazy stuff you’ve found on Twitter. I’ve found also has helped me do better elevator speeches, particularly when dealing with executives with short attentions spans.
- Twitter is not about small talk. Building from point 2, unless the weather is extreme (like 40+ degree celcius heatwaves which became trending Twitter topics and make the news sites) most people tweet about what matters to them, links that interest them, photos they’ve taken and respond to things they are passionate about. The longer you know/engage with your fellow Twitterers, the more you build up a picture of their personality and interests, almost like a forensic expert piecing together a crime scene. You bypass a whole bunch of phoney social baloney (job, where you live, married/single etc) and cut straight into the heart of what they are like as a person. Like old fashioned correspondence romances, or new fashioned internet dating, you can authentically connect to others on Twitter, by getting to the good bits (genuine authenticity) much faster than a standard offline (real life) relationship.
- Twitter helps you reserve judgment. Twitter stops you from making the usual social judgment calls based on appearance. As Alain de Botton explains in Status Anxiety, we are all programmed to make split second judgments based on clothes, accessories, cars, houses and all the other societal trappings. With only a tiny photo or avatar and the 160 character limit bio, its the laconic & witty descriptions I always fall for. So if there is such a thing as Twitter Status Anxiety its to do with followers (volume or influence). Either way, I’m only every going to judge you by the quality of your tweets not how you look, so deep and meaningful or smart and funny win for me every time, and not your appearance or social ranking.
- Twitter helps bond over common interests – with social networking, social media, marketing, web or technology as the common interests, they are easy subject matters to increase social lubrication. Asking what someone’s Twitter handle is a great opening gambit. Then you can go onto discuss why/what you are doing on Twitter. You can also continue the conversation back on Twitter at the end of the event.
- Twitter helps make nerdiness cool. Twitter’s early adopters are a nerdy bunch (I include myself in this category). Nerdiness is not a social liability at a tweetup – there is no shame in tweeting on your iphone in public space (especially for a charitable cause). The crowd you are talking to at a tweetup will be up on technology – or at least know how to use a browser at the very minimum.
- Twetups build your community – chances are there are some people at the tweetup you don’t know on Twitter, so you can Twitter network in reverse, meet them in real life and then follow them on Twitter. The name badges with Twitter names/handles really help too. If you have an iphone, you can add people you like there and then, or write down their handles for later following.
So even if you missed Twestival this year, look out for next year, and in the meantime hit the Twitter User groups in your area, Sydney, Melbourne Brisbane Canberra or the Social Media Clubs or create your own tweetup to ramp up your offline social community. Thanks to @Andrew303 @Afficionados_HH and @ianlyons for helping articulate some of these thoughts.