As public relations continues its amoeba-like shift around social media, one of the things I’m starting to see is the practice of Twitter relations.

Twitter relations is similar to blogger relations, but eliminates the threshold of authority that comes with a blog. Brands, PR companies and marketing teams are beginning to provide limited access to everyday tweeters. Now, these aren’t your ordinary tweeters, these are people with at least 1,000 followers and who are generally quite vocal.

As you’ll see, I apparently fit this profileā€¦ But what I’m seeing is PR and marketing toeing the line between sponsored posts and actual brand evangelism.

Will tweet for food

Recently in the Seattle area, I saw Pemco flying across Tweetdeck. A group of local people had been invited to the top of the Space Needle and had a catered affair where Pemco debuted a new part of its “Northwest Profiles” ad campaign.

The people present had tweeted about being there and watching the commercial and hanging out with the Pemco CMO (who had “invited” his followers to attend).

Another example is an event that Alaska Airlines is sponsoring, called the Aviation Geek Night. A scant 12 people won tickets to take a ride in the airline’s flight simulator and have some further access to the company. This is not invite only and there was no expectation of tweeting on behalf of Alaska Airlines. Disclosure: I won a pass and will be attending.

Also, another invite I’ve received is to head to a location of a high-end dining chain called El Gaucho. It is opening a new location locally and is featuring a lunch menu. They hired a company to host a Taste and Tweet and local media and a few “average Joe” twitterers got to attend (again, disclaimer: I was one of them).

Are these sponsored posts? What about the media people in attendance at these events? I think those count as sponsored tweets and the media present must either disclose their receiving of free goods or food in their tweets. As a non-member of the media (anymore), I think that what I voluntarily posted to my Twitter stream also counts. But am I under a moral or legal obligation to disclose?

How to relate to Tweeters

So, is there a right way to engage with prolific tweeters? What is more important, having one person with 100,000 followers at an event or 20 people with 1,000 followers? I think the answer is pretty clear as the 20 people are more likely to be more vocal with their posts and opinions, resulting in additional mentions.

For small brands looking to boost the mentions in the Twitter stream, having a small, semi-exclusive event is a great way to do that. The problem is the discolsure dilemma. If the “average” person on Twitter is going to act as media at an event, then they should discolse the freebies. Would it have been acceptable for me to go to the El Gaucho event and not posted anything about it?

If PR and marketing companies are OK with people coming to the event and not tweeting at all, then they should not take credit for those that do. Mentions on Twitter as part of these events should not count as media mentions.

Measuring the impact

What value do these mentions have then? The word-of-mouth marketing that occurs from these is quite valuable. The mentions the above companies received helped boost their visibility and their reach. Did the events lead to more sales? Did they lead to actual press coverage? Those are some of the key metrics to consider.

What are your thoughts on this? Should PR take credit for bringing in assorted tweeters to an invite-only event? What are your best practices for tweeter relations? How do you see this trend evolving?

As of June 9, I have officially survived another year. Another year of learning. Another year of growing. And another year of trying to make the best of myself.

I bought a house. I bought a dog. I changed full-time jobs. I even changed BBQs. It’s been quite an interesting year, which is why I wanted to share some of it here. I also have a “personal” blog, but that’s mostly for ranting. This is more of a “rave.”

Growth as a person

Getting older means nothing if you are incapable of learning from the past. The ability to take lessons away from your experiences are what will help make your future better. Lessons like, it’s great to be able to say yes, but it’s even better to be in a place where you can say no.

Or one I learned this year myself: Having patience and understanding will help you get pretty far in life. It’s OK to be wrong wonce in a while and I think a lot of us forget that. When you are patient enough to take a deep breath or three and acknowledge your mistake, you can often come out further ahead than if you had dug your heels in to be “right.”

Another lesson I’ve learned is on what a true “friend” is. I’ve written about it on this site in the past even. But having folks that you can rely upon is one of the most important things in life. One thing I learned recently was the “Soup Metric.” A concept that can really affect your outlook on who you associate with.

Growth as a professional

I recently took on a new challenge and joined a company that has been pushing me to be better than I thought I was. Being able to succeed in this role is very important to me and I am finding that I have the skills and talent to be great.

I am meeting new people and making new relationships that are helping me realize some of my goals. I have learned a lot from the people I have met such as Micah Baldwin, Geoff Livingston and, recently, Drew Olanoff. I have had a blast with people such as Aaron Brazell or Erin Koteki-Vest or Aubrey Sabala.

I have also recently joined the board of Social Media Club Seattle. I am viewing it as a “practice what I preach” adventure. But I already have found many exciting opportunities and look forward to seeing where this pathway of life leads me.

A birthday without gifts?

I simply couldn’t have a birthday without gifts. But this one’s for you, the readers. What I have is a copy of Hugh McLeod‘s book, “Ignore Everybody” that I am going to give to somebody who comments on this post. I want to hear about who you are and why you’re here and how you have grown in the past year.

To put a nice little bow on top, if you’re in the greater Seattle area, I’ll hand-deliver it over a beverage of your choosing.

So tell me, how have you grown in the last year?

UPDATE: I have closed comments. Send an @ reply to me on Twitter to vote for who gets the book.

It’s official. I have joined the board of the Social Media Club Seattle and will be working with its partners and building some effective relationships with other companies and organizations.

But why have I done this? Many know I am skeptical of “personal brands” or have been known to roll my eyes at a social media guru or two. But I have volunteered my mind to this group in order to help it succeed. Many people attend this group’s events looking for good information and even better people.

I want to help those people.

I’m curious what the concept of a social media club means to you? Is it an evening of buzzword bingo or is it a meaningful opportunity to put real life faces with Twitter handles?

It will be interesting to see how this organization grows. And, I look forward to helping it grow.

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