Tweet-up? No birds involved.

Created on Wednesday, 09 November 2011 01:32
Written by Margaret Portier

Since beginning library school in the fall of 2010, I’ve developed a fondness for social media, Twitter in particular. This summer I attended the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans. While there, I attended my very first Tweet-up. A Tweet-up is a gathering of people who communicate together primarily through the social media network, Twitter.  In many cases, Tweet-ups aren’t exclusively Twitter users, but other social media networks users as well.  At ALA I was able to meet, in person, the other library school students around the country that I had been tweeting with for a year. It was amazing to enter a room full of strangers and realize that we weren’t strangers after all. So, it was with great excitement that I joined the small group of Fayetteville Free Library staff who organized the FFL’s first ever Tweet-up in September.

I’m not sure who had the idea first, but I was more than willing to help make it happen. We discussed what a Tweet-up is and what the goal of ours would be. We saw it as an opportunity to meet the patrons who rarely come into the library. Having the Tweet-up at the beginning of September was also motivated by our desire to let new Syracuse University students know about our library and the amazing services we provide. In one event, we hoped to bring in patrons who rarely utilized the library as a physical space as well as a brand new group of library users.

To market the Tweet-up we coined the hashtag #ffltup and began an almost entirely paperless campaign. First, we made invitations.  Twtvite is an online tool that lets you create an invitation to an event allowing invitees to RSVP using Twitter or Facebook. We created a Twtvite and a Facebook event for the Tweet-up that were open to the public. We drafted tweets and status updates that alerted our friends and followers to the event by broadcasting the URLs for our invitations. Then we designed posters to hang around the campus at Syracuse University to draw students and included the information in our print and digital newsletters.

For the Tweet-up, we pulled out the library’s new laptops for attendees to tweet or post, set up the gaming station to entertain any gamers in attendance, and put together a photo booth with all of the life-size cardboard cutouts in the library. Captain Jack Sparrow was very popular.  Everyone wore a nametag with their Twitter username as well as their real name, so we could recognize each other. I kept a close eye on the #ffltup hashtag during the event and played the part of the candy fairy, delivering sweets to anybody who tweeted during the event. King David’s provided the delicious food, and Café 300 sold drinks.  Towards the end of the night, I took a few of the attendees who had never visited the FFL on a tour of the library.

Everyone who attended said they enjoyed the Tweet-up. I’ve personally been a lot more active with the library patrons (especially the Tweet-up participants) than I had been before. I hope that the FFL will be able to host similar events in the future and draw larger and more diverse crowds.