Twitter: 101: The Parties!

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Have you ever been to a twitter party?
Do you wonder what all the fuss is about?
What IS a twitter party and why would anyone “go”?
What is twitter?
Why do I care?

Here’s a crash course, let’s call it, Twitter 101: The Basics.
(This is the third in a series of four (yep, I added one!) posts. If you are already familiar with twitter, skip the first and second posts in the series and pick it up here. If you are new to twitter, start with one and two.)

What is a twitter party? Amy Lupold Bair, Resourceful Mommy, invented the concept of a twitter party in 2008 and she has been hosting them every week since then. The best way for me to understand it is with an example. A company, let’s use Build A Bear, has a line of bear costumes of military uniforms. They are also giving a special discount to military families in appreciation of their sacrifice. How does a company tell people about their new products or promotions? In addition to the traditional media, they can sponsor a twitter party. Not only can they get their word out to their target audience, moms like us, but they have a focus group where they can interact with their customers. To thank (and attract) people for attending the party, prizes are given away. The first prize I ever one at a twitter party was a video camera – I was hooked! It’s a win-win situation (pardon the pun).

That’s why the company sponsors a party, but why should I “go” to a twitter party? In addition to the prizes, a well-run twitter party is interesting and fun. You have the opportunity to talk to other moms about a variety of subjects. Many times, you can learn about a topic or product that can help you. They range from weight control to child car seat safety. And of course, there’s the prizes!

Okay, now I want to go, how do I do it? All the tweets in a twitter party have a hashtag. A hashtag is a phrase after a number sign ie #BABWMilitary Anyone who wants to go to the Build A Bear twitter party, tweets during the hour of the party, using that hashtag. For example, I can tweet, “Hi everyone, this is my first twitter party. #BABWMilitary”. And if you do that, you will be surprised at how kind and helpful the host and other participants will be!

How do I see tweets from other people at the party? There are several ways to setup your screen to see the tweets from the party. and are the most popular. Tweetchat is a bit simpler, with only one column. In Tweetgrid, you can setup multiple columns so you can see all the party tweets in one column and only the tweets of the hostess in another column. Here are screen shots of both.

How do I win prizes? How are the winners selected? Depending on how the party is setup, there are many ways to win.
1. rsvp – a party host (the blogger) may ask you to let her know that you will be attending and provide your twitter id. A winner may be chosen by selecting a random number.
2. hoops – that’s what I call the entry requirements such as, following the sponsor, signing up for the sponsors newsletter, etc. Usually you leave comments on the blog post announcing the party.
3. trivia questions – during the party, the host will usually ask questions and then choose someone who responds. The choice can be based on the number – ie the fourth response: the quality of the answer; or entirely random.
4. tweets – A winner may be chosen from all the overall tweets with the hashtag. For example, the 102nd tweet with #BABWMilitary may win a prize.

It’s always a good idea to read the post announcing the twitter party carefully to determine how to win and any requirements.

There are many parties out there, two hosts that I recommend you follow are Amy, at and Melissa at The Consumer Queen. They are both professionals. Their parties start and end on time, the rules are clear, the topics are interesting, the questions are easy and fun. I’ve been to some nightmare parties. At one last year, the host didn’t tweet for almost half an hour at her own party! Another, it wasn’t clear what the prizes were, how to win and it turned out the winners weren’t announced until days later. That won’t happen with Amy or Melissa.

Amy’s party calendar is here and her next Build A Bear Military party is May 11th.
Melissa is hosting a party on May 13th, you can win a BBQ Grill! For more information go here:

Questions? Questions? Please ask me questions! I have one more post to do (in a couple days) that will have a glossary of twitter terms and some tips on how to win. I’ll try to answer any questions, if you have ’em.

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