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Top 13 Things I Learned at the 1st-Ever Boston Sports & Social Marketing Tweet Up

I’ve never organized a networking event before (unless you count a crazy 40-ounce party in my Fenway apartment in my early 20s ) and hence, there was much to learn about throwing a successful Tweet Up.

I’m feeling generous, so I’d like to share the Top 13 Things I Learned Tonight about Event Planning at tonight’s debut Boston Sports & Social Marketing Tweet Up.

In no particular order:

  1. Retain the services of @marketCait to produce and promote your event. She knows all the social media movers and shakers and tweet-up junkies in Boston. She makes mean nametags, wears the same sweater to every tweet up, and is infinitely more photogenic than I could ever be (except when you draw a green magic marker moustache on her; that evens the playing field).
  2. Your right shoulder is the preferred location for wearing said nametag.
  3. Offer complimentary Magners Irish Cider for the first hour of your event. It’s a crowd pleaser and makes networking go much smoother.
  4. Don’t pose for “alt-rock album cover photos” after five Magners Irish Ciders, the pics will never come out the way you saw them in your mind’s eye.
  5. If you had any designs on scheduling a snow/ice storm for the same day, cancel said weather. It will cut into attendance.
  6. @Amanda_ZW‘s birthday lasts for five days and everyone’s invited.
  7. Create a hashtag that hasn’t already been commandeered by Japanese tweeters; #bssm apparently means something different on the other side of the globe.
  8. Speaking of hashtags, apparently you can be a trending topic in Boston for about 7 minutes (#bssm) on a Tuesday night if you try hard enough.
  9. Always plan tweet ups as close to your apartment as possible.
  10. Not including a speaking program, or addressing the crowd in any manner, is a great decision.
  11. It’s OK to pause if you think you know someone when they walk in the door. When you realize you don’t, you’re right. It’s just that you know them because you recognize their Twitter avatar. At that point, you’re a dork, but it’s safe to say hello and meet them in real life too.
  12. Expect your event to be documented, guerilla style, by @BostonTweetUp.
  13. Sober up before you write your Tweet Up recap blog entry.
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Boston Sports and Social Marketing Tweet Up: January 18, 2011

It’s 2011. The world is changing. Industries are colliding. Social media is taking the sports marketing world by storm. Apps, tweets and digital media is changing everyone’s lives, forcing people to engage with their mobile devices and ignore their immediate surroundings, not to mention their families and pets. Everything’s bigger…yet smaller. Klout scores are up, newspapers are down, and ROI is still missing in action. Here’s a question: What the #%^@$ is Quora? Nobody knows what to make of any of it. And there’s no end in sight.

Thankfully, there’s still booze.

Mark your calendar for Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. We’re taking over the upstairs at The Fours on Canal Street, just steps from TD Garden and North Station in downtown Boston.

From the people who brought you sports, social media and hangovers comes the first-ever Boston Sports & Social Marketing Tweet Up (or BSSM if you’re into brevity, man). Social Media Marketer Cait Downey (@marketCait) and Peter Stringer (@peterstringer), Director of Interactive Media from the Boston Celtics, have joined forces to stage this first-of-its-kind mash-up mingling event.

It’s a perfect night for some offline, real world networking in the North End. The Garden is empty, the Celtics are off, and the Bruins are out of town. So come tweet up, meet up and watch the B’s battle the Hurricanes while engaging in person (for once) with some of Boston’s best and brightest in the converging worlds of sports marketing and digital media.

Boston Sports & Social Marketing Tweet Up
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
The Fours (upstairs)
166 Canal Street, Boston MA 02114

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Twitter Footnotes: The Value of a Facebook Fan and more…

I’ve become something of a Twitter junky as of late, but the biggest thing that annoys me about the medium is that no matter how hard you try, there’s inevitably something lost in the translation when you try to take a coherent thought and condense it into 140 characters.

Shades of gray be damned in the world of Twitter!

Much like text messages, tweets are often misinterpreted or straight up misunderstood. There’s definitely an art to getting your message across while preventing your readers from misconstruing the meaning. Still, people like opinions, and fence-sitting is not the way to build a following. There’s significant pressure to make your point and sound like an expert. Occasionally, the true meaning becomes the collateral damage.

With all of that in mind, some tweets beg more explanation, so I’m thinking it makes sense to footnote some recent tweets after the fact. Here’s my first stab at it…

Numbers like this always make me laugh. At what point does $136 dollars a fan make sense? If I open a fan page tomorrow and pick up 20 fans, does $136 hold true? Does that $375 million number for the Celtics make any sense?

While it’s great that people are trying to attach some ROI to acquiring Facebook fans, it seems silly to attach such a crazy number to it. And at the end of the day, if you don’t activate them, get them to do something, buy something or promote something, are they really worth anything at all?

I tried Foursquare for two weeks last winter. Maybe I don’t get out enough. Or maybe I don’t care to broadcast my whereabouts. Or maybe I just don’t care. Whatever the reason, a year later, I just don’t think location-based social networks and check-in technologies will ever really take off.

I mean, I’m basically a social media dork, and if I don’t care, why would the average person, or the cool person, or the too-cool-for-school types? For any technology or trend to reach critical mass, it needs to have transcendent appeal. Foursquare, Gowalla and friends just don’t have it as far as I’m concerned. Ditto for Quora, which probably would get zero traction if not for its clever leveraging Twitter for growing its user base.

But when less than 0.5% of our crowd bothers to check-in at the Garden on a game night, that tells me that people don’t care. Could we get more check-ins if we blasted people on the jumbotron and asked them to do it? Sure. Would there be any value in it for us? I doubt it.

If anything, we’d just have to offer a discount to fans to get them to do it. That costs us money, and it’s not likely to drive any new business. These fans are already at the game. Is a 15% discount of a hot dog and a soda or a Rondo jersey in the pro shop for 77 people really going to drive any significant ROI? Especially when we could be using that in-game at bat with our fans to promote something more lucrative? Unlikely.

That said, what follows is a much more interesting after the fact “check-in” technology that has far more potential…

There’s not much to explain here; the photo (almost) says everything. If a photo is worth a thousand words, what’s a 5-billion pixel 360-degree view shot of the Garden worth? We’re attempting to find out. This is a pretty nascent technology that involves some old-school photography and some new-school software.

The photo is actually a bunch of hi-res shots taken with a basic digital SLR camera that pivots 360 degrees, and then the shots are sown together with some pretty fancy software. I’m over-simplifying here, but the end result is pretty magical. Mix in a little Facebook Connect and you’ve got yourself a pretty neat app.

At this point, you probably couldn’t get this done on a nightly basis without spending some serious cash, but there are some really cool ways that the Celtics could leverage this technology down the road. For instance, when fans check into the image on Facebook, it could help us identify people who attend our games but never buy tickets themselves simply by matching check-in results against our existing database. Could these missing fans become ticket prospects down the line? Absolutely.

And really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Ether way, we were super excited to work with Virtual Africa on the project and look forward to how their technology and process evolves.