Tweeting it up in the Hawke’s Bay – #hbtweetup

Twitter Bird(This post is a cross-post from Fruitbowl.co.nz)

If you’ve never been to a Hawke’s Bay Tweetup, you have another chance this Friday 1 April. Advintage Wines (@advintagewines) have kindly agreed to host (free wine, free tapas). It looks set to be the biggest #hbtweetup so far… (thanks to @dhtbrowne for taking over the organisation on this one :-)).

Not a Twitterer? Into social media but not sure why you should come? Here’s my story…

The Professional Social Network

Twitter has been a fixture in my life since late 2007. It has without doubt been the social media tool most instrumental in growing my professional network, my professional skills and my personal learning. More than my blog, more than my Flickr account, more than my Facebook account, more than any formal training or conferencing I’ve done.

Through Twitter I am connected to hundreds of professionals in my education technology field who in an ongoing streamed conversation around the clock:

  • provide collegial support,
  • help me reflect on the changes in education in this digital age,
  • discuss benefits and disadvantages of online, blended and other education approaches,
  • offer differing view points/ approaches / experiences in their organisations,
  • act as an instant helpline.

As someone once described it: “Twitter is like constantly sitting next to the smartest kid in the class.”

IRL = In Real Life

I quickly found that Twitter interactions perhaps weren’t  so professional (read: businesslike) all the time. People on Twitter were funny. They traded offhand remarks that frequently had me snorting in a most unladylike manner at my screen. Many Twitter colleagues were neat people, and some of the online connections became more than online colleagues: frolleagues (friends + colleagues).

And this meant that increasingly if I was near a Twitter friend (or they stopped in Napier) I’d try to meet up IRL (In Real Life). When Twitterers meet up like that, it’s called a Tweetup. Increasingly the Tweetup phenomenon grew and these days a Tweetup is often a recurring, geographically based event. Take a look at the Mellers Tweetup or Wellington Tweetup. Even NASA organised a Tweetup. Often Twitterers at a conference will also organise a little unofficial tweetup.

Having visited the Melbourne Tweetup (a great way of meeting locals when visiting a city) and being part of the Educause educational conference tweetup in late  2009, the idea occurred to me that we should have a Hawke’s Bay tweetup. They are fun, energising events with people who have a lot of things in common. How nice would it be to catch up with people in the Hawke’s Bay who are also discovering that social media can be a great leveller. That through this medium we can live in one of the most beautiful but also remote places in the world, but still be part of the action. Snag? I didn’t know any Hawke’s Bay tweeps (Twitter people or peeps). At the time, Twitter didn’t have a good tool for finding people in the same geographical location. I was only connected to a few colleagues at EIT on Twitter, and I saw them every morning for coffee…

#hbtweetup

And then the first big Christchurch earthquake in September 2010 happened. The NZ Twitter community quickly adopted the hashtag #eqnz and hundreds of kiwi Twitter users began sharing information, resources, tips, experiences and support in a Twitterstream that continued through the aftermath, and hasn’t stopped since. Suddenly I found myself connected to a lot more kiwi Twitter users. And some of them in the Hawke’s Bay. And so the idea of the #hbtweetup began to stir again.

I sent out the first tweet using the tag #hbtweetup in the week after the earthquake, inviting everyone to come together at the Guffle Bar (Ian is a most gracious host. Free food will placate any geek ;-)). Quickly@brenasmith and @krometech took up the call – you can see the #hbtweetup archive here. We began asking attendees to register in a wiki but quickly progressed to a free tweetup tool linked to Twitter, Twtvite, to collect RSVPs. And the Hawke’s Bay Tweetup was born. And as we all met at the Guffle, the conversation flowed freely, mainly about how we’re all using technology, digital and social media here in the Bay, the good, the bad and the ugly. And we discuss idle and not-so-idle plans on how we can make a difference in that area. And we laughed. A lot. The best thing is probably that that conversation hasn’t stopped yet. It carries on in the Twitterverse when we’re not all at the #hbtweetup.

This Friday will be the 4th Hawke’s Bay Tweetup. And it looks to be the biggest yet, even bigger than some of the Auckland tweetups. You are all kindly invited. RSVPs via Twtvite.

Who should come to a Tweetup?

Anyone interested in or curious about:

  • Twitter (for business, for government, for news, for learning, for…)
  • Other social media tools (blogs, Facebook,…)
  • Life and work in the digital age and the opportunities that offers
  • Mobile devices (smartphones,digital camera’s, iPhones,  iPads,  other…)
  • Fill in your own geeky stuff
Twitter Apps

Twitter Apps

Preparing yourself – tools  & apps for a tweetup:

  • RSVP – Use our Twtvite page to let us know you are coming
  • Begin following the other HB Tweeps – Feel free to use my #hbtweetup Twitter list to begin following the tweeps you may meet on Friday
  • Twitter archive – Scan the archive of all of our #hbtweetup tweets at  Twapperkeeper to get an idea about who you’re getting involved with and what they talk about
  • Bring a smartphone – Whether it’s a Blackberry, iPhone or Android, don’t forget your mobile device so you can share pictures, quickly look up websites that crop up in the conversation, upload pictures from the event, tweet, Facebook or live blog the event, show off your Angry Birds score, have light saber fights,…
  • Be ready to meet people with Bump – Install  and set up Bump before you head over to the venue. Bump is an app that lets you share your contact information with people you meet, simply by physically bumping your devices together.
  • Check in via Foursquare – Install and use Foursquare to check in. There’s always a race on to see who gets the first check-in at the #hbtweetup venue. And of course, who has that most coveted mayorship.
  • Check in via Facebook (Places) – Instead of Foursquare, you may choose to use Facebook Places for checking in.
  • Select and install your Twitter client of choice on your mobile device – You’ll need to be able to tweet from the event. Tweetdeck,  Twitter or Twitteriffic are all popular clients for the Smartphone.
  • Camera – Twitter / Social media geeks tend to be “trigger happy” when it comes to the camera’s on their Smartphones. Make sure you’ve got enough memory left to snap all those pics.
  • Video streaming – At the first #hbtweetup, someone even video streamed the event using Ustream, the free broadcasting app. It may be time to do so again.
  • If you can suggest other essential preparations or apps for a tweetup, please do add them in the comments.

Twitter BadgeAnd finally – tag yourself!!

And one final non-digital thing: tag yourself! People need to know that YOU the person are linked to YOU the Twitter account. So create/print/macramé a badge (use plastic, paper, papier mache, macaroni, crayon…) with your name AND your Twitter username, and wear it with pride – and a slight blush…

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