How to have a wine tweetup

If you are on twitter you might be familiar with the term “tweetup”.  Just to recap:  A tweetup is when fellow twitterers meet up in real life, usually after work at a wine bar, pub or restaurant.  There are two basic points of view or categories of the tweetup

1. You are a twitterer, a social person, looking to host a tweetup at a location where you can meet people with common interests.  You might be a blogger writing about local restaurants, or even a wine blogger!

2. You are a business  looking to host a tweetup at your location in order to promote your business through social media.   You might be a restaurant, wine bar or winery.

My focus will be on category #1 because I am a blogger and twitterer.

The first thing you need to do is check your twitter follower strategy.  There is no sense tweeting about a #wine #tweetup in #scottsdale Arizona, when most of your followers are from Washington State, Vancouver British Columbia and New York City.  I learned this the hard way.

Before you start doing anything you need to ask yourself a few questions:

1. What is the purpose of this tweetup?

Is it to meet as many people who share a common interest as possible? Is is it to meet as many of your followers as possible?  Is it to meet specific followers of interest and influence? All of the above?

If you have a strong local following finding people to attend shouldn’t be too difficult, just send out a tweet.  If you don’t have a lot of local followers and want to meet as many people who share your interest in wine  send your tweets with the following hashtags: #wine #tweetup and #the-name-of-your-city.

Does anyone respond? Send out the tweet in the morning then again before lunch and maybe another one in the late afternoon.  Do this at least several days before the tweetup to give people time to plan ahead.  Don’t be too surprised if no one responds right away.

If you are looking to target specific followers and people of influence you should look thru your Direct Messages and contact those people via DM …

“Just a quick note, thinking of having a wine tweetup, you interested?”  Something like that. You might want to include foodies, food critics, writer’s, artists, an eclectic group.  Or you might want to include just the most influential PR people in your area.  It’s up to you what the mix is, but you need to be aware of it.  You need to think about the dynamic between quantity vs. quality.  My first tweetup was a small group of quality connections.  In the future I plan on hosting a larger group to experience that dynamic as well.

While you are waiting for responses you can start to choose a venue for your wine tweetup.  Your best bet is a restaurant with a decent wine list, or a wine bar.  How do you choose the venue?  Google “wine bar” and your city.  You will come up with a list.  Quickly go through the list and visit each place’s website.  Check the wine list, check the location.  Make a list of about 3 to  5 places. Make notes and write down contact information.

Next, make contact.  Should you call, or write an email, or use twitter?  You should do all the above if you want to make sure they get your message.  Leave a message if you get voice mail.  You need to make contact with the manager or prefferably the owner.  You don’t want to be making plans with whoever answers the phone at the front desk.  Nothing against people who work in that position but you are going to be making a business proposition not a reservation.  When you talk with the manager or owner you should explain that you are a twitterer, a blogger and what you blog or tweet about and that you are looking for a venue to host a meeting of people who follow you.  If you are just starting out with your food or wine blog don’t expect anything in return for hosting this event.  The restaurant wine bar winery might not know who you are, you will probably have to prove something first.

However, if you have a decent blog and can point to site stats like how many hits a day you get, how many subscribers you have, how many local twitterer followers you have you should probably make them aware of that.  You need to let them know that hosting this event will bring their business a lot of “free” press.  In return for this free press, you would like to know what they are prepared to offer you.  Don’t be pushy, snooty or demanding about it, you just need to ask.  It doesn’t hurt to ask.  If you are emailing them you might want to include a link to an article extolling the benefits of hosting a tweetup at your place of business.  Barbara Evans @Seattlewinegal has a good one here. Josh Wade @nectarwine also has a good article on it here

Okay so where are we?

1.You’ve sent out  tweets  letting everyone that follows or everyone in your area interested in wine, or specific followers  know that you are thinking about putting together a wine tweetup.

2.You’ve Direct Messaged people on your DM radar about your plans

3. You’ve contacted possible venues.

Next, you are going to need to make some decisions about which venue to choose.  For me, in my first wine tweetup the choice was pretty simple:  I chose the only place that responded!  Next, choose a day and time.  I chose Thursday night at 7:30.  A lot of people have other plans on Friday and Saturday nights and unless your wine tweetup is the talk of the town it might be difficult to pry them away from their other plans.  Also give people enough time to get home from work and change, or at least to grab a quick inexpensive bite to eat before meeting up.  That way people can have more $$ to spend on wine, but it’s also not too late to eat at the tweetup if they are hungry.

So lets say you’ve decided where to have the tweetup. The venue will need to know how many seats to reserve.  Now you are going to need to do some quick juggling.  Tell them based on your initial guesstimate that you will need a reservation for X amount of people but that you will get back to them by a specific time  with a more definitive answer.  Ask your contact what is their preferred method of communication, and make sure you communicate with them like you said you would.  If you said you will get back to them by 4pm, then get back to them by 4pm, even if you have no new news.  It is important to do what you say and do it by the time you say you’ll do it in order to build credibility.  That goes for all aspects of life.

Now you need to move quickly and with a sense of urgency.  Tweet, Direct Message and get people to commit.  Get back the the venue with a concrete number.  It’s very important to keep in constant contact with the venue about the number of guests you are planning on bringing.  That was one of the mistakes I made.  I made a reservation for 5 people, and on the day of the tweetup I learned that there were now going to be 10 people, I left a twitter message, but did not follow up with a phone call.  A restaurant manager or owner is a very busy person.  They do not have time to check twitter all day long.  But when the phone rings, they answer it.  Luckily for my tweetup the owner and staff were top notch problem solvers and managed to make a table for 10—in a restaurant that seats less than 40!  But you might not be so lucky.

So now you’ve got the venue, you’ve got X amount of people committed to coming at 7:30pm or whatever time you chose.  It’s very important for you as the host to arrive early.  I suggest no less than 15 minutes prior to the reservation time.  This way you can greet the guests as they arrive.  You can introduce yourself to the owner/manager.  You can observe the facilities, make some notes, maybe do a little tweeting on your smartphone.  You can also grab a big glass of water.

The guests arrive, you’ve got your table…you’re on your own now!

Any Questions?  Leave a comment or email me:  weeklywinejournal at gmail do com

7 comments

  1. Thanks for the shout out- great post! There are so many ways to organize a tweetup! I have a very different way of going about the one’s that organize (I love all styles though, of course). I DM private invite people who I know are very influential tweeters, and then approach a restaurant/winery etc asking if they will exchange complimentary wine tastings (maybe apps too) for 10 wine tweeters tweeting all about them before, during and after the event. Most establishments find this to be a great and fair exchange. I do all the organization and no one loses. I have two within the next two weeks! 🙂

  2. Hosting a local tweetup in my area has been front of mind lately so your guide will be a great one to follow! Thanks for the informative and timely info.

  3. Don’t forget wineries for tweetups! They are the easiest and lowest maintenance. Wineries are used to seeing high traffic. While I would still call ahead, they are usually super happy to have us and already all set up! I generally tweetup at wineries on Twitter, because they better understad the influence AND best benefit.

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