How Tweetups Work

National Hockey League tweetup. See more pictures of popular web sites.
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One thing's for sure: There are countless ways to use the word "tweet" that convey new meaning. "Tweetup" is one example -- a made-up word that rhymes with "meet up" and essentially means just that. A tweetup is when a group of Twitter users meet up in person, an event that's orchestrated via the Twitter social networking Web site. It's what happens when the members of an online community decide they want to look each other in the face.

Tweetups run the gamut -- from the quickly arranged to the highly organized. Some tweetups are simply an informal opportunity for a group of people who "follow" each other online to meet in real life. Others are larger, more formal networking or charity events. Turnout for these events can be difficult to predict. It's the way of the Internet. If you're the average Joe Twitter user, you might expect six of your followers to show at your tweetup, and, instead, 20 do. Twitterers have a tendency to invite friends who aren't your followers and who may not even know what the social network is.

The tweetup was invented by the Web site's users, not by Twitter's C-suite. But the concept jumped into the mainstream when charity event organizers saw it as a clever way to gather a crowd for a good cause. And, of course, other Twitter members that use the social network to market their goods and services followed suit.

While the tweetup is gaining popularity, unless you're a Twitter super user, you may not know what these events are all about. How would you organize such a gathering? And will people really talk to each other or just stand around twittering silently via iPhone the whole time?