With social media playing an ever more important role in people’s social and professional lives, the on-line world and the real world are beginning to overlap. Twitter is one of the fastest-growing social networks in the world, and a “tweetup” is an event where people who are networked on Twitter meet in person. Restaurants, bars and hotels are realizing that this is an opportunity to not only promote their presence on-line, but also to try to get people off their computers and into their establishments.

Millions of conversations are held daily on Twitter through “tweets” (status updates) in 140 characters or less, which can include pictures, video and links to other Web sites. People on Twitter are sharing both important personal and professional information, despite the fact that they have never met, and tweetups give people the opportunity to actualize their relationships. These events are becoming ubiquitous.

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Last Thursday night, the Inbal was the first Jerusalem hotel to host a tweetup. The event was held poolside with jazz music and food and drinks from the Splash bar, which was kept open for the occasion.


Ruth Waiman, the driving force behind the Inbal Hotel’s twitter account (@inbalhotel), has been spearheading a multifaceted social media campaign that includes social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, video sharing site YouTube and the geolocation site Foursquare.

Waiman made a prodigious effort to locate and recruit members of the Israeli Anglo twitterati (people with high-profile twitter accounts) and encourage them to promote the Inbal event beforehand and to be on social media during the event. Due to the viral nature of Twitter, those in attendance had the estimated combined influence to be able to reach upward of 3 million people.

Bruno De Schuyter, the hotel’s general manager, is optimistic about the potential of social media. “We believe that community is key, thus it is imperative to keep online channels open. We relish and encourage the comments and reviews from on-line friends and guests.”

Charlie Kalech of J-Town (www.j-town.co.il) stated that “the tweetup was a great opportunity to take on-line relationships to the next level, to go off-line and strengthen these ties, meeting people within the Jerusalem professional network face to face, along with those who are at the cutting edge of social media marketing.”

The event is the culmination of a year-long effort by the luxury hotel to develop social media marketing activity, alongside such renowned major social media hospitality players as the Roger Smith Hotel in New York and the Fairmont Hotel Group. With the whole nature and scope of business marketing changing at a rapid pace, the Inbal Hotel hopes that these efforts will make it a leader in Jerusalem for social media in the field of hospitality.

At the beginning of the evening there was awkwardness and trepidation as people who had never met in person began to mingle and connect the on-line identities.

Although almost everyone at the event was already communicating through Twitter, most people couldn’t even recognize each other. This created a kind of initial awkwardness with a surreal quality as people read each other’s name tags, which contained people’s real names and the monikers they use for their Twitter account.

After the initial awkwardness was over and people began to speak freely, many discovered that not only were they connected on-line, but they were connected through their careers and communities as well.

Neighbors met each other for the first time and so did people who had worked for the same companies.

Local comedian Benji Lovitt (@benjilovitt) (http://www.BenjiLovitt.com) lamented the lack of understanding in the general community. “People think we’re social misfits staring at our phones the entire time – but we’re not, it was a lot of fun.”

While few at the event would claim the title of “social media expert,” many who of them are on the cutting edge of new media and are playing a significant role in the Israeli on-line community.

Hillel Fuld of the Israeli hi-tech company TechNmarketing (www.technmarketing.com) told In Jerusalem that “the Jerusalem tweetup gave the Israeli Twitter community the opportunity to meet the people they communicate with and match the faces with the Twitter accounts. This week’s Inbal tweetup was thought out to the very last detail, including exclusive discounts for people who checked in on the geolocation networking site Foursquare.”
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