Boston’s @biz Twitter Fit
I’ve been watching the Twitter dialog between @hybernaut (aka Brian Del Vecchio, founding member of the Beta House collaborative in Cambridge) and a slew of Twitter users from Hubspot about a “Tweetup” being held today in honor of Biz Stone. More widely known by his Twitter username, @biz, Stone is Twitter’s co-founder and creative director, and apparently he’ll be in Boston this weekend.
The event is to be held at HubSpot’s Cambridge headquarters, concurrent with the Hubspot.tv broadcast. The catch is that Stone hasn’t actually said he’ll show up; Hubspot is trying to use Twitter to cajole him into making an appearance—and generating quite a bit of buzz for itself in the process. It’s been amusing and interesting to observe the cordial controversy unfold.
It began like this:
repcor: Boston people: Want to hang out with @biz? Me too. http://bizinboston.eventbrite.com/ #bizinboston
Then the gauntlet was thrown.
hybernaut: I’m calling social services on Hubspot’s abuse of ‘Tweetup’ for #bizinboston. Next every car dealership will be hosting one. “Come on down!”
repcor: @Hybernaut Oh pff. What do you mean? What’s wrong with throwing him a party? #bizinboston
hybernaut: @bostontweetup I want to defend the term Tweetup (as used for community-driven events) from corporate appropriation & abuse. #bizinboston
And so it continues….. and it keeps getting better. The word “communist” has entered the dialog. Could “Nazi” be far behind? You can follow the whole conversation at http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23bizinboston.
Hubspot, a well respected and social-media-savvy inbound marketing company, has previously used similar tactics and the power of their reach on Twitter to get MCHammer to appear on Hubspot.tv when he was in Boston recently, and to get Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to stop by its office during his tour of the Cambridge Innovation Center. The difference being, they did not organize “MCHammerinboston” or “Govpatrickincambridge” tweetups to do it. This may turn out to be the crux of the matter.
So the issues are:
1. Whether a company should promote a Tweetup mentioning the “star’s” name, when they actually haven’t said they will attend, thereby harnessing the “star’s” juice without permission.
2. Is a Tweetup a community entity, not to be appropriated by a corporate entity to use as a marketing vehicle?
3. Can companies legitimately participate in and add value to the Twittersphere?
What do you think?
As the tempest in a teapot boils away, it brings attention to a couple of additional points.
1. Twitter is a hugely powerful brand.
2. This is one of many such issues that Twitter will have to contend with as they continue their growth and mainstream penetration.
The clash of commercialism versus the passionate individual user will grow as more and more marketers enter the fray. Any attempt by Twitter to monetize the stream will have to be carefully orchestrated and useful to users.
It is understandable why the company is not in any hurry to attempt to make money at this time. Why upset the apple cart at a point when growth is 77 percent per month, reaching 14 million users monthly just on the Web? It may actually be easier to monetize once the passionate early adopters numbers are diluted by the mass of n00bs arriving everyday. The larger group may not resist “crass commercialism” to the same degree.
Today is also the day that Twitter announces its OPO: Oprah Public Offering. And you would be hard pressed to find a brand that elicits as much fervor and loyalty. For example, in the Boston Twitstorm conversation, @biz was compared to Bono and Prince, and passionate users are speaking out to defend the Twitter platform in the name of the community. Twitter is all over the mainstream media, even garnering mentions in broadcast media commercials by other major brands.
Our little @biz Boston Twit Fit might be a microcosm of things to come for Twitter. But one thing is certain: Boston groks Twitter.