Mass Innovation Nights and Twitter

As you probably know, Dan Englander and I started Mass Innovation Nights about 18 months ago.  What you might not know is that Mass Innovation Nights is more than just a monthly event to launch new products.  It has been a sandbox in which we frequently experiment with new social media marketing and online marketing techniques, especially Twitter techniques (Twechniques?). 

The current website is a simple WordPress site.  [We know the issues there and various partners — Web Page Advisor and Conversion Innovations (Lytiks) have helped us to identify others.  If you’ve ever tweeted to me “Bobbie, the voting isn’t working”, I consider you one of our partners too as we finally gave up on using the different voting and poll modules for WordPress and turned to using Twtpoll.]  We’re working on a new site and I hope to be able to tell people more about that in September.  Speaking of September — I am campaigning for a guest co-host slot on HubSpotTV and have until September 1 to get my crowd to vote for me  – VOTE HERE.

The Innovation Nights events themselves have evolved over the last 18 months, as we traveled from the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation to the IBM Innovation Center and over the next two months to Cambridge and the NERD Center to Mass Challenge’s offices on the waterfront in the Innovation District.  Don’t worry, we’re planning to be back out in the burbs again soon.

We know what impacts event attendance and what doesn’t.  We know what things can get a crowd to tweet for you and what leaves them cold.  (I’ll be talking about some of these things at the Boston #140 Conference on September 14 if you want to get into details — plus, the schedule of other speakers looks amazing!)

Mass Innovation Nights depends heavily on Twitter for its popularity — many people still think of it as an overgrown Tweetup.  At first Twitter supplied almost all of our website traffic — almost 85 percent came directly from one tweet or another that first month.  And Twitter made it easy to help spread the word about changes and new  features.  Unlike other social networking tools, Twitter’s features make “local” social networking work very well.  The “location” on the profile makes it easy to see, at a glance, whether there is a chance in hell of that person actually attending an event.  The Twitter  freemium model supported our business model — a low cost event where we could charge people nothing to attend and exhibit.

The retweet buttons on each page have been a shining testament to the role of Twitter in the growth of Innovation Nights.  (The homepage currently stands at almost 750 retweets.)

As we look to expand Innovation Nights into other cities, we’ll be doing even more with Twitter and other social media — especially as we do more to integrate the website with different social media tools.  Watch for it.

Meanwhile, what are you doing to make your events Twitter-friendly?  Go beyond assigning a hashtag. What really makes a Tweetup work?