WARNING: THIS IS A SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERIMENT.
I felt like I needed to say that. :) I have no idea whether the @nar2008 GroupTweet account will work as I hope it will, but i think it's worth the effort. And the only way to test it, is live and with a large group.
Here's how the @NAR2008 GroupTweet for The National Association of REALTORS® Annual Conference came to be.
At the last few real estate conferences, reBarcamp, Inman, reBlogWorld, the twitter crowd used hashtags to help people keep track of events and conversations taking place. This allows you to more easily follow conversations around an event using tools like Twitter Search. While this is fine, for what it does, it still requires active involvement on your part. You have to "check in."
What I wanted was something that would allow me to be passive.
I wanted a system that would be "instant" and alert me to the events and updates of the people attending the event found important or interesting. So, text messaging seemed like a good option. The first application I turned to was Tatango. I set up a NAR2008 Tatango Group and invited a few of my closest Twitter friends to come and help me test it out. It worked, but it doesn't have the right model for this purpose. What Tatango does is allow a "leader" to communicate with the group. It is a "one to many" solution. So, it would be put to better use by someone like Hilary Marsh (@hilarymarsh) at NAR. She could use it to send out updates about changes in venues, times or event cancellations. Hilary was one of the first few to sign up to test and that account has now the NAR2008 Tatango Group has been turned over to her for her use.
The Beauty Of Social Media And Public Discussions
While publicly testing Tatango, I was followed by @deanalert. The CEO, Matt Beck, had picked up on the conversations and wanted to let me know that DeanAlert was working on a real estate specific group texting option. Matt and I have yet to get hooked up on the phone, but I will come back and update in another post when that happens.
And... while preparing for this post this morning, the founder of Utterli, Michael Bayer, followed @nar2008 and that made me realize I had not considered Utterli's recent (10/22) launch of a Group Text Widget. We had a private discussion over on Utterli and I'll share this much of his conversation with me, "You ain't seen nuthin' yet." Knowing the Utterli gang like I do, I don't doubt it for a moment. "This new app lets you send text messages to your friends (one or many) in Facebook, Bebo, and Utterli. This is the first app to bridge your friend connections on all three networks. Recipients of your text messages can receive and respond from within their social network interface or on their mobile phone."
And then there was GroupTweet.
Ultimately, I decided that I'd like to test GroupTweet. How does GroupTweet work? I'll use the text right from their website:
- Create a new Twitter account specifically for your group (e.g. initechwebdevs or smithfamily). If you want to make this a private group, make sure that updates are protected in the settings.
- Register your group's new Twitter account at GroupTweet.com
- Tell all group members to follow the group account you created at Twitter. Note that the group account must also follow the group members.
- Members can broadcast a message to the whole group by sending a direct text to the group's Twitter account. For example: 'D nar2008 Just committed the latest code to the repository'
That's it! GroupTweet is constantly listening for direct texts sent to your group's Twitter account. When a direct text is received, GroupTweet instantly publishes it as a tweet from the group account. Since all of your group members are following the group's Twitter account, they will each receive the message. Easy-peasy!"
Here is a quick "tutorial" video that describes how this all came about and will show you, visually, now this all will work.
Intro To The NAR2008 GroupTweet Account On Twitter from respres on Vimeo.
Have I piqued your interest? I hope so. Setting it up this way allows each of the followers to determine they level of involvement. You may just want to listen in using Twitter, or you may want to turn on device updates and receive text messages in real time. It's up to you. Let me repeat, I don't have a clue how this experiment will turn out. I'm hoping the members will keep the "noise" to a minimum and use the site for it's intended purpose. If we all do that, I think it will go well. Some have already begun using it to announce other social media efforts, like the NAR2008 Flickr Group. Want to join in? Go follow @NAR2008 on Twitter. Then direct message NAR2008 during the conference to keep us all up to date on the events you find interesting or important.