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Businesses get Tweet Savvy

From the Jamaica Observer, June 24, 2010

@RachieBabie bumped into @Vanyvw at the bar. They already knew each other; they exchange hellos. @Vanyvw introduces @RachieBabie to her friend @SadéSP. @SadéSP is in marketing; it would be good for them to know each other.

The connection made, a conversation ensues over the swill of Martini glasses.

This exchange did not occur in the backroom of some bar between clandestine agents. No, this all happened on the 17th floor of the Jamaica Pegasus, with the dance floor open, music blaring, people dancing and the lights of New Kingston twinkling below. This was Jamaica's first large-scale "tweet up" (aimed at Twitter subscribers), and it was hosted by the Jamaica Pegasus.

A "tweet up" is a party or social event organised almost entirely via Twitter – that audaciously simple (or brilliant) social-networking site that allows users to send or post text messages (tweets) in an economical 140 characters or less. It could be as simple as someone sending out a tweet giving details of the "where" and "what time" and allowing the news to spread all on its own.

Given the large following that Twitter boasts internationally (over 100 million users and counting), businesses large and small are starting to tap into the marketing potential of creating a direct messaging link with their customer base, a move that's at the heart of the Jamaica Pegasus "Tweet Up".

"Twitter is a tool that helps connect businesses more meaningfully with the right audience at the right time," says Prudence Simpson (@jamaicapegasus), Jamaica Pegasus' director of sales. "We've been around for many years and some of our clientele are older. To embrace the next phase of the product life cycle, we need to tap into social media tools to attract the young crowd."

The Jamaica Pegasus joined Twitter in September 2009 and has grown a sizeable following since (over 400). The hotel "tweeted" about its "Tweet Up" in May and, like viral wildfire, the word spread.

Over 100 guests were packed into the Talk of the Town function room on the hotel's 17th floor. They were mostly young, many of them students, but there was a healthy mix of professionals – managers and corporate execs, writers, sales clerks and even a physiotherapist.

"A tweet up brings that personal contact with your client base," says Simpson. "And we want people to see everything that the Pegasus offers. From the rooms for functions to the café where you can have coffee when you're studying late at night. We have something for everyone."

"We want Jamaica Pegasus to be for everybody," says Eldon Bremner (@GMJamPeg).

A statement reflected in the activities of people who turned out for the tweet up. Nicolette Jones (@nikkirich61), a student, was there to have a good time with friends and see what the tweet up was all about, while Lyndsey McDonnough (@Calicojackja) was on hand to help promote the new Calico Jack rum punch.

"I went from thinking Twitter is for people with no lives," says Marcia Forbes (@marciaforbes), a communications specialist who was also at "Tweet Up", "to thinking it's an excellent tool for communicating as well as an excellent marketing medium."

– Kedon Willis


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