wine tweetup

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

My first wine tweetup, January 14th 2010

A tweetup is where people who use twitter meet up in real life! Wow! What a concept!  It is quite a concept though.  I had never met any of the 300 plus people I follow or who follow me on twitter and the wine tweetup seemed like the best way to do it.

Having never organized a tweetup before I thought I better ask some people who have organized tweetups how to do it.  So I contacted Barbara Evans @Seattlewinegal and asked her a few questions.  Barbara has written on the subject of the wine tweetup here.

My first question was:  Should you contact the wine bar to make a reservation and let them know you are a wine blogger and are having a tweetup with other wine bloggers?  I really didn’t want to sound self-important or seem like I was asking for special treatment.  Barbara said it would be a good idea to let them know ahead of time so they can save space for the tweetup.  You wouldn’t want to arrive with 10 people only to find out that the place is full and then have to wait a long time, or start trying reorganize and go somewhere else.  She also said it is a good idea to contact more than one place.  Not all places can accomodate larger groups, not all places return phone calls or emails 😦  She said its worth noting to the establishment  that they will be getting a fair amount of free press out of the even, and any discounts or complimentary food and or wine would be greatly appreciated.  Sometimes they say yes, sometimes no.

I chose Pavle Milic’s FnB restaurant because he got back to me right away and was very enthusiastic about the event.  I asked about the discount, but he explained that he has only been in business for 5 weeks, and I said say no more.  Cash flow is difficult when a restaurant first opens, there are a lot of unforeseen expenses and plus, who is the Weekly Wine Journal anyways?  Bloggers shouldn’t assume that anyone outside of the blogging community knows who they are or can gauge their influence.  Best to show what you can do first and then ask for a discount later!

First I  made the reservation for 10 and then sent out tweets with hashtags #wine #tweetup and #scottsdale.  This lets other twitters who are searching for tweets with those specific words in them know about my event.

It was only after I started sending out these tweets looking for people who would be interested in a wine tweetup that I understood the meaning behind the twitter follower strategy.  Most people suggest that you start with a local following when you are building a twitter following.  And now I know why.  When I sent out tweets for a wine tweetup in Scottsdale, Arizona…my 200+ followers from around the world were not able to attend.  I seemed to have just a few local followers.  So I got little response.  Luckily my friend and fellow wine blogger Josh Wade @nectarwine was visiting the valley for the PF Chang’s Rock N Roll Marathon, so I knew at least one person would show up. So then I had to get back to Pavle and let him know I would probably only need a reservation for 5 people.  But then an interesting thing happened…

Ty Largo @JuxtaPalate RSVP’d and invited his friend Nicki Buchannan,food critic for the Arizona Republic.  Then Colleen Chase @CChaseEnt who runs Arizona Grape Escapes responded.  Next thing I know we’re up to 12 people.  Pavle was very accommodating I have to say.  I neglected to tell him about the extra people. He was able to think on the fly and his head waiter Josh put 4 tables together in the front of the restaurant and it all worked out absolutely fabulous!  We were joined by Marianne Belardi @ciaomari who is the  “Schmooze diva” for Cowboy Ciao, Kazimierz, and FnB!

Afterwards we decided to head around the corner to Kazimierz for some more wine and we were joined by Justin @JustinEats.  Ty is a fantastic connector and organizer, I have to say.  We walked into a very crowded and busy wine bar and were seated immediately at a “reserved” table.  Blogging has its privileges!

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.  I learned that it’s not the quantity of people that show up for your tweetup, it’s the quality.  With the people that were there, we had rich and interesting conversation.  The guests were engaging, outgoing and interesting!  And somewhat important to a tweetup is that the guests share common interests.  This tweetups guests were very interested in social media, entertainment, wine and food. I am really excited to plan another one ASAP!  I know Ty is working on something Top Secret…