Through conversations on Twitter, tens of thousands of smaller communities have cropped up. The Twitter-based community occasionally organizes meetups in real life — the common thread being that they’re all part of a community from Twitter. As with nearly every term relating to Twitter, it should come as no surprise that these meetups are sometimes referred to as tweetups.
Because Twitter is just another medium by which people connect, and because the medium allows you to build relationships easily, you may not see meeting offline as such a stretch. Because Twitter connections are based on trust within a community (which you can measure by seeing who people talk to, what they say, and what they’re like), meeting people offline doesn’t feel as taboo as it used to.
In fact, because Twitter makes reaching out to new people so easy, some people have had great success in meeting people in the most random of places, such as at an airport in between flights during a layover.
Say that you’re traveling from New Jersey to Colorado with a layover in Texas. You might send an update to Twitter: “Flying EWR to DIA, via IAH. Anyone care for a game of Scrabble during my 2-hour layover?” A fellow traveler, out of curiosity or boredom, may be searching Twitter for new people to meet and may take you up on your offer.
If you happen to be in a new town for business or to visit friends or relatives and need to get away, you may be able to find people in that city to meet for coffee or drinks. Twitter is another avenue on which you can find people, and having the ability to figure out who they are before agreeing to meet them certainly benefits you.
You can not only look for common interests to talk about before meeting people, but also make such meetings safer by screening people before meeting up with them. Your mom was partially right about not talking to strangers, of course, but by meeting in public and by finding people you know in common, you can be a bit safer in making the jump to an offline connection.
In addition to impromptu tweetups, the digital-media folk on Twitter (the Twitterati) have organized and promoted millions of in person and online charity efforts through Twitter. The first one of these in person events to reach global scale was @twestival.
In just a few weeks, the first twestival jumped to international consciousness by drawing 10,000 twitterers to more than 200 events in cities around the world. When all was said and done, a massive series of tweetups on February 12, 2009, raised $250,000 for charity: water to build safe, clean drinking water wells in developing nations. Organizers went on to organize a total of 5 Twestivals before retiring the event in 2013.
The Twitter and Facebook fueled ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” viral craze raised more than $100 million in just a month for the neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Just search the hashtag #charity and you will see worthy charitable efforts of any imaginable type. The website TwitChange emerged from another Haiti relief effort in which celebrities led by Eva Longoria auctioned off their Tweets, retweets, and follows in exchange for charitable donations. Today, TwitChange is a great source for breaking news and information on social media efforts to make the world a better place.