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Tweetup: Tweeting in museums and at cultural events

The term ‘tweetup’, a blend of ‘twitter’ and ‘meet-up’, refers to a meeting in the real world organised with the help of Twitter, the social networking service. A growing number of cultural institutions are using tweetups to open up to the digital world and thus to new visitor groups too.

In practice, this is how it works: An event is announced on Twitter a few weeks in advance and is ‘hashtagged’ (the # symbol is used to mark keywords). The concrete information obtained can then be used to organise a tweetup. At the tweetup itself, all interested Twitterers meet at the planned venue, keeping their smartphones and mobile computers handy. All that they see and hear is communicated and commented on directly in the Twitter community. Photographs also play a role.

This enables Twitter users who are not present to follow the event and to join in the (Twitter) conversation. As a tweet may not exceed 140 characters, formulating thoughts and impressions in this format is virtually an art – the art of a news summary. It therefore seems obvious that the cultural scene, in particular, should make use of tweetups. The museums were the first to see this opportunity.

A digital cultural experience: a tweetup in a museum

When Twitterers share information and experiences, the engagement with art and culture not only acquires a new dimension but also occupies a much larger space than before. One of the pioneers of the cultural tweetup is the German network Kulturkonsorten. On 14 September 2011, it initiated a tweetup in the Deutsches Museum in Munich, the first in a German museum. Kulturkonsorten remains one of the major organisers of tweetups today.

Kulturkonsorten has also coined the term ‘Twitter salon’. Much like the salons of the 19th century, where enthusiasts met to talk about art and culture, today they meet on Twitter. Tanja Neumann, a media expert, describes this as ‘very spontaneous real-time communication’.

The feelings of other Twitterers and the questions they ask can also enrich the cultural life of an individual, perhaps even more than a traditional visit to the museum.Tweetups have now taken place in several museums, more so in connection with the first German museum tweetup to celebrate the 36th anniversary of International Museum Day held on 12 May 2013.

An example of a tweetup in the Museum of Communication in Frankfurt

Tweetups in the theatre and the concert

Theatres have also started using tweetups. Theater Heilbronn organised its first tweetup in February 2013 when Twitterers were able to take part in a rehearsal for a musical. In September 2012, a tweetup was held at a concert given by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra in Frankfurt am Main.

These two tweetups were organised by a team called KultUp that concentrates on culture and calls its tweetups ‘kultups’. The team focuses on building a community that is interested in culture, is taken from event to event, and is provided with the relevant background knowledge and links before a kultup takes place. Initiatives like this also generate great publicity for cultural institutions as they reach out to new visitor groups.

September 2013

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