The success of the Ealing Tweetup

ronanmacmanusIf you’ve been to a tweetup, you know the kind of thing it typically is: an informal get-together of like-minded people, usually in a pub or other social venue, who sign up on Twtvite to say ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ they’d be there. It’s advertised and promoted by the organizer and anyone who tweets or retweets about it. And there’s a hashtag. Usually, a tremendous time is had by all.

So it was last Tuesday at the sixth Ealing Tweetup organized by Mark Hillary, hashtag #ealingtu. This one, though, had three significant differences from your average tweetup – a food-and-drink sponsor, a recording artist, and a strong mainstream media presence in the form of BBC Radio 6 (listen to their event report) and the Ealing Gazette. Plus a local politician or two.

Along with more than 80 others, I took part and thoroughly enjoyed it. I met a handful of familiar faces including Kerry Bridge, Jonny Ashton and Tom Raftery, the latter visiting London from his base in Spain for a conference. (Tom ended up being co-opted by the Ealing Gazette as the official press photographer – nice camera, Tom! – and I imagine Tom’s photos have appeared in the print edition; not yet online.)

The evening’s sponsor was Xerox UK represented at the tweetup by Darrell Minards, Head of Communications Xerox Europe, and Sonia Panchal, European PR and AR Manager. This is the same company who is the sponsor of Technology of Business, a new online TV series from the BBC comprising 24 short features around the role of technology in the world of business, that launched earlier this month.

The star, though, was the recording artist – Ronan MacManus. You might not yet be familiar with his name but you’ll undoubtedly have heard of his elder brother, Elvis Costello. Ronan describes himself modestly as a "Singer/Guitarist from West London." He creates great music. What especially interests me about Ronan are his clear views on social media.

Take a look at this Ealing Tweetup promo video Mark Hillary created and listen to what Ronan has to say about social media and what it can do for musicians.

Some further thoughts about the event:

  • Like most things, you have to get the word out. While attractions like a sponsor and a recording artist undoubtedly help, you have to proactively communicate your event especially if you want to bring it to the attention of  a wide audience. Mark did a good job with that, discreetly and regularly tweeting which many people including me were happy to retweet to our followers. Twtvite, too: I liked the reminder tweets that came now and again.
  • I had a brief chat with Ronan but no time for a proper conversation: he was popular with participants and with the media grabbing his attention. Hope to get a chance for a chat soon.
  • When I asked Xerox’ Darrell Minards what his goal was in sponsoring the tweetup, I very much liked his reply: he wasn’t totally sure. It was an experiment, he said, to see what happened and what it might lead to in the future. He said being part of it was the important thing and he and his colleagues will learn from the experience that will help him understand what next steps might be. A refreshing and open attitude – a leaf for the taking for communicators and marketers in other companies.

Finally, check out Ronan’s music – you might find something you like – and video on YouTube.

(Photo above of Ronan MacManus by London location portrait photographer Quoc-Huy Nguyen Dinh.)