A Little Technology…Harnessing the Power of Twitter

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The gracious Andy Hayes, photo by Mike Coulter

I discovered a fantastic new use for Twitter that I plan to use on many of my future travels – and again, I owe it all to Andy. When I popped Andy a question about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival shows we arranged to meet up for a drink and chat. Once he decided that I wasn’t psycho (I promise, although I am a spaz, I’m actually quite nice in person!) he invited me to attend the weekly Twitter coffee meet up in the city.

Apparently these “coffee mornings” happen all over the world and all you have to do is know the secret code. Okay, it’s not secret, but it’s also not entirely intuitive, but a google search will locate it easily. In this case, every Friday really great Twitter tweeps get together at a local restaurant for breakfast, light networking and just general conversation.

The Edinburgh Coffee Morning

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Mari Smith at the EdCM, photo by Mike Coulter

The Twitter tag #EdCM (Edinburgh Coffee Morning) unlocks the magic and within moments I discovered that Mari Smith, a social networking expert, planned to attend the meeting too– what fun! I may be crazy for wanting to do a little bit of business while on the road but it also served as the perfect way to connect with new people, network a little and learn more about how to use Twitter.

That’s the crux of the dilemma for so many people I meet – they log onto Twitter, add a few friends, talk about what they ate for breakfast, and then quickly decide that Twitter is boring. Yes, it surely is boring if you’re sharing your breakfast details with total strangers. But for networking and building up relationships within a specific community, well, that’s where Twitter’s strength lies.

I have to say, Mari was truly excellent at working the table. Basically, she flawlessly carried on interesting conversations with individuals while seamlessly integrating her social networking capabilities into the conversation. As you’re chatting, she may casually research more information about a conversation point on her iPhone and then jump over to Twitter to add you as a friend – all while carrying on the conversation – now that is skill.

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Photo by Mike Coulter

Over the past several months I’ve found Twitter a vital tool to developing relationships with other backpackers and travelers in the community. This new coffee meet up element is one that I had never considered previously but that has some very real potential. Though I may not seek out a business-y meet up in every town I visit, I certainly feel like these small Twitter communities have the power to unlock a whole new side to my travel experience.

I loved it thoroughly and appreciate all of the warmth from the #EdCM regulars who took me in for a day and welcomed me into their conversations. Cheers and many thanks and I’ll be back next time I’m in Edinburgh!

Travel Twitter Tips: Making Travel that Much Better:

  • Follow the conversation taking place in the next city your visiting by searching Twitter using hashtags. Simply search #Edinburgh to find the most current Edinburgh tweets!
  • Ask for tips by using the city name and a hashtag in your own tweet.
  • Use the “#” in front of an upcoming event to find the beating pulse of the event on twitter. Fringe was the perfect example: #EdFringe and #Fringe contained an unfathomable number of Fringe related tweets giving reviews of the shows all month long. Posting a valid question to the #EdFringe would have definitely gotten a quick response.
  • At reply (@TwitterNameHere) to people you tweet with and meet up for a coffee in their local town…although social networking is fab, it’s a great way to facilitate face-to-face relationships too.

*****All photos courtesy of Mike Coulter, check out his photos on Flickr or his Web site *****

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8 Responses to A Little Technology…Harnessing the Power of Twitter

  1. Mariano November 10, 2009 at 2:34 am #

    Fantastic post about using Twitter as a conduit to meet people in person. It's hard for people to “get” Twitter (often because they just post about food), and I'd argue it takes about a month or two of being active before you realize any benefit from it. I'm personally (and slowly) getting comfortable in it, and just finished a series of articles on my own blog to kinda delve in and understand it better.

    Great article and thanks for sharing…good luck in future travels!

    • ShannonOD November 10, 2009 at 3:26 am #

      Thanks! I'm enjoying digging through your site :-) I still consider myself a bit of a newbie on Twitter so your tips are great; I look forward to tweeting with you!

  2. Mariano November 9, 2009 at 7:34 pm #

    Fantastic post about using Twitter as a conduit to meet people in person. It's hard for people to “get” Twitter (often because they just post about food), and I'd argue it takes about a month or two of being active before you realize any benefit from it. I'm personally (and slowly) getting comfortable in it, and just finished a series of articles on my own blog to kinda delve in and understand it better.

    Great article and thanks for sharing…good luck in future travels!

    • ShannonOD November 9, 2009 at 8:26 pm #

      Thanks! I'm enjoying digging through your site :-) I still consider myself a bit of a newbie on Twitter so your tips are great; I look forward to tweeting with you!

  3. @andrewghayes October 22, 2009 at 8:41 am #

    Wow – talk about a powerful post! I am most certainly blushing. But you've nailed it on the head, Shannon: Twitter's power lies in its ability as the world's biggest connector. I never cease to be amazed at how it can bring together people and networks that otherwise would have never met.

    Thanks for your wonderful comments – we did have a pretty good #EdFringe experience, didn't we?

    I am sure Mari feels the same way, but I am humbled by the people I've met at #EdCM as well as Twitter. Recently I used Twitter to meet locals in Madrid for recommendations on tapas – and met up with some folk, which really make a solo travel experience all that much more interesting.

    To summarise, Twitter-style: Twitter. Use It, It Works!

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