Users of microblogging site gather at Brew Works
By Genevieve Marshall | Of The Morning Call April 14, 2009 (original post can be found here)
Eric Thomas and Sharon Polly-Boes are friends who have regularly commented for months on the missives the other sends out on Twitter.
On Monday in a lofted space above the first floor of the Allentown BrewWorks restaurant, they finally met at the Lehigh Valley’s first TweetUp. Along with about 30 other Twitterers, they shared a happy hour and put faces to usernames.
Thomas, or @cwluc, is a 26-year-old from Allentown looking for a job in the technology sector. Polly-Boes, also known as @Iluv2laugh, moved to Bethlehem from New York last year looking for a new life and a less expensive place to live.
They probably wouldn’t know of each other’s existence without the microblogging Web site where the fundamental question is: What are you doing?
Through tweets — comparable to Facebook status updates or tiny blog posts of 140 characters or less — these two have shared their shared love of photography.
“I wanted to meet people after I moved here last
summer,” said Polly-Boes, 43. “Twitter was an easy way to connect.”
Michael Andreano, or @mandreano, is a 35-year-old information security analyst from Forks Township. Andreano modeled the event on meetings for Twitterers in larger cities, and created a Twitter page (@lvtweetup) for what he hopes will be a regular gathering. Within four days of its creation, the Lehigh Valley TweetUp had 11 sponsors, free T-shirts and a meeting place.
“That speaks to the power of social media,” Andreano said. “And it gives us an idea of what you can accomplish with Twitter.”
Several attendees were local marketing and public relations executives who use Twitter to help clients promote their brand. They say it’s not always an easy sell.
“Everyone is still trying to figure out how to make it work,” said Michael Drabenstott, a principal at Spark marketing and communications firm in Bethlehem, one of the event’s sponsors. “Some large companies are reluctant to jump in because they don’t know how to classify Twitter.”
Kathryn Armstrong, who tweets for the Lehigh Valley Health Network @LVHN, posts health tips and articles for her employer. “I use it as an engagement and communications tool,” she said.
Armstrong, 42, also writes about dog rescue on her personal Twitter page, @cybersibesk.
Dennis Brennan, a 50-year-old mortgage banker from Bethlehem Township, posts on @dmbrennan for networking purposes.
And Matthew Tuerk, assistant director of the Allentown Economic Development Corp, promotes good news in the city. You can find him @matuerk.
Some of the attendees, naturally, live Tweeted about the event by text message from their cell phones and posted web updates from smartphones, while others posted Twitpics afterwards.
The group was as diverse in age, gender and race as they were in their reasons for using Twitter.
Deidre Latoof, 24, of Catasauqua went to high school with Thomas, the Allentown resident looking for a job in technology, who joined Twitter more than two years ago.
A new Twitterer, Latoof uses @ofthesorrows05 to write about hurting her foot, or taking a bubble bath, or the books she reads.
“Now that I’m not in college, I’m not as social as I used to be,” said Latoof, a bank teller. “I joined Twitter to stay in touch with friends. I came out tonight because I need to get out more.”