The first step to organizing a successful tweetup is to decide on a purpose. If all you want to do is to meet some of your followers in the area, your tweetup will be a lot different than if you're trying to get a job or raise money for a cause. Once you decide on your reason to "tweetup," you're ready to get started with the planning.
If your tweetup isn't just a casual gathering, you may want to draw on the experience of marketing or public relations professionals. Their help can increase attendance as well as ensure that you have a diverse group of attendees. Fortunately, the Twitter user base is full of marketing pros who are typically happy to do a little pro bono work for a group they're a part of. A simple tweet asking for help to organize a tweetup and permission to RT (retweet, or repost) may be all you need to connect with willing volunteers.
As you're planning the event, you may be inclined to post updates on its development. But it's not necessary to twitter about every change in the plan. If you twitter about it too much, you may get so much feedback that it's impossible for you to make a decision that pleases everyone. If you're working with a small group to plan it, it's best to confine that to e-mail or phone conversations.
Choosing a location for the tweetup is an important part of planning. The informal nature of online social networking makes it difficult to determine whether you'll have five attendees or 50. The best you can do is choose a bar, restaurant or outdoor venue that's roomy enough for the most people you could expect to come and cheap enough to reserve.
Once you've narrowed down your location choices, visit each venue. A dark bar in a dodgy neighborhood is not where your followers will want meet up with what is essentially a bunch of strangers. You'll also probably want a location that has Wi-Fi and cell phone reception. Even in the heart of town, there are often dead spots. Twitter users are generally a technologically savvy crowd, so they'll be unhappy campers if they can't get connected.
It's important to have a focus for the event. Hosting a speaker is an excellent way to increase attendance. For professional networking, people often come with the expectation of a meet-and-greet only, but adding a speaker is a great way to give the event structure.
Political and charitable fundraisers are a little easier to structure. The difficulty with these types of events is nailing down speakers who'll draw a crowd. Tweetups are such a new concept that many notable politicians and speakers may not yet understand the concept or the potential reach of such an event.
Now that you've planned your event, what should you keep in mind as you entertain your guests?