Tag Archives: Twitter

Exploring the city, Twitter is an invaluable tool

Boloco located at 1080 Boylston St. Click image for more photos.

On a nice day Tom O’Keefe can be found taking a walk through Boston Common, grabbing a beer at Publick House, then closing out the night at the bars on Boylston Street. While enjoying his day out and about the city, he tweets about it.

O’Keefe founded Boston Tweet in order to bring attention to local businesses. With his iPhone in hand, O’Keefe ventures through the city broadcasting things he thinks Bostonians would enjoy.

“It’s really all about what I like to do and places I like to go,” he said. “It kind of is Boston according to me.”

From beer tastings to musical performances, O’Keefe tweets about it all. He also gives a voice to the people by allowing them to broadcast events and happenings on BostonTweet.com. Any tweet that includes @bostontweet automatically gets pulled onto the site.

O’Keefe said he is just an ordinary guy who likes to go out and explore the city. He has lived in Boston for approximately 20 years and graduated from Boston College with a degree in economics and politics. After a number of unsuccessful start-ups and the economy’s crash, O’Keefe started Boston Tweet in November 2008, and so far it has been the most recognizable thing he has done, he said.

O’Keefe said he really values things that students and 20-somethings would enjoy like cheap places to eat and free events. He does not get paid for doing this job.

“I don’t make a dime off this. It’s purely where I go,” he said. “Not being paid allows me to go wherever I want and not be worried to offend people. It makes it a lot easier.”

O’Keefe said that he does not plan on making money off Boston Tweet but in the future would consider expanding, possibly with an iPhone application. The reason he maintains Boston Tweet is because he loves this city. To pay the bills, O’Keefe also works for Groupon, a company that provides daily coupons for things to do and places to eat around Boston.

“I don’t make money off of my tweets, and prefer that, but I make a lot of connections,” he said. “I do it mainly because I love Boston, it opens a lot of doors for me and it creates a massive amount of exposure for me.”

O’Keefe has also not advertised Boston Tweet. Its popularity has picked up through word of mouth.

As of April 27, O’Keefe has 15,333 followers, and in the month of March, Boston Tweet had more than 17,000 unique visitors.

“It’s purely just the people enjoying the content and following me on Twitter,” he said.

O’Keefe said he has seen the popularity of Twitter expand in the last year and a half that he has been using it. He did not have a Twitter account before starting Boston Tweet.

“It definitely wasn’t as popular as it was today. The best quality of Twitter is that it’s mobile. I can tweet when I’m out and about. It’s easy and it’s free,” O’Keefe said

Other local businesses have turned to Twitter to enhance the conversation with their customers.

John Pepper, CEO of Boloco, the burrito restaurant with multiple locations including Boylston Street and Huntington Avenue, started using Twitter about the same time as O’Keefe did in order to create a dialogue with the restaurant’s customers.

“We don’t know what the return on investment is. There’s no proof it has increased sales or had any real effect on our business. All we know is that it’s allowed us to communicate better with our customers,” Pepper said. “For us, it’s not really about building the business, but rather giving more avenues to the customers.”

Pepper said that Twitter can be a slippery slope because any business that decides to use it must be prepared to be honest and transparent.

“If you’re comfortable being honest with customers and accepting the good and the bad comments, then it is an invaluable tool,” he said. “If you truly want to embrace customer feedback and build a business based on that, it’s an unbelievable resource.”

Kerry Israel, audience development manager for the American Repertory Theater, said Twitter is all about engagement, connecting with people and creating a stronger presence in the community.

“The beauty of social media is that you join a larger conversation,” Israel said. “People are always going to have something to say, so Twitter is a way to overhear that conversation.”

Steve Quigley, associate professor at the College of Communication at Boston University said he is amazed and awed like everybody else with the astronomical growth of Twitter.

According to Nielsen Online, Twitter’s unique visitors grew from 475,000 in February 2008 to seven million in February 2009.

“It’s the immediacy of it that’s just staggering,” he said. “For essentially no cost, anyone can publish and reach a large number of people who have given you permission to communicate with them. The permission thing is a huge deal. Anyone can get a megaphone and stand on the corner and shout at pedestrians, but if you think about it, Twitter is powerful because it works best when people have indicated that they want to keep an eye on you and are exposed to your thoughts.”

Israel made a note of the hard work that goes into maintaining a Twitter feed.

“It can get crazy monitoring Twitter, but it is always an exciting thing to do, especially when I’m having a crazy day,” she said.It’s great to see positive comments … and it also provides an opportunity for us to help out if things come up. That’s the beauty of it – instant, real-life communication.”

O’Keefe sympathizes. He said he is often out until 2 a.m. and that it is not something that can be easily done.

“I can’t keep up with this pace for many years to come,” O’Keefe said. “It is a hard job but it’s much better than sitting in a cubicle all day.”

Asked whether he considers himself a journalist, O’Keefe’s immediate response was, “No. Do you? Am I a journalist?”

Quigley would respond yes. In Quigley’s eyes, O’Keefe may not be practicing journalism, but he is definitely a citizen journalist.

Whether it is considered a form of journalism or not, the power of Twitter cannot be denied.

“Twitter is powered by its simplicity. People in awe of Facebook or even Google have been awed by Twitter’s simplicity. It is much more simple and some might say, more elegant than Facebook. I think Twitter is more powerful for real-time communication. The real-time immediacy of it is pretty remarkable,” Quigley said.

Simple is how O’Keefe views Boston Tweet as well.

“It really is a simple concept. Boston Tweet is all about going out, having fun, and tweeting about life in the city. That’s it. There’s not much more to it,” he said.

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Tweet Tweet

I’ve come to really appreciate all that Twitter has to offer. While there are a lot of people on it that use it to point useless, mundane statuses of their everyday lives, there are a lot of people who put it to good use. I really rely on it, especially in terms of finding new and exciting events worth posting on the this blog.

I want to share a few of these Twitter feeds with you, in case you want to follow them as well.

1) @BostonTweet: This guy knows Boston better than everyone combined. Tweets are updated multiple times a day. The updates provide us with things going around in the city. The tweets cover it all – everything from cover charges at bars on St. Patrick’s day, to what restaurants will be serving. For the past 24 hours or so, the updates have been very St. Patrick’s Day heavy. I can’t blame him, this is Boston, after all.

2) @WeeklyDig: Boston’s snarkiest news organization posts about upcoming events, as well as content from their recent issue. It’s something worth following because often they’ll run contests and give away free concert tickets, put you on guest lists, or at the very least, provide you with a good laugh.

3) @bostoncalendar: This is the Twitter of the Things to Do section of Boston.com. They have all the daily happenings at some of Boston’s most popular venues, like The Middle East and the House of Blues. If you’re looking for a focus on Cambridge, check out @bostoncalendar2.

4) @plrgvintage: Poor Little Rich Girl is a local vintage store with locations in Davis Square, in Cambridge, and on Newbury St. They often tweet about discounts at their store, but occasionally post cool events they know about.

5) @BostonDailyDeal: Again by Boston.com, and again about bargains in the city.

6) @thestylefyle: Put together by my good pal Megan Jicha, this feed will provide more fashion insight. Look out for the Daily Deal for opportunities to look good, but save money doing it.

7) @BackBayUpdate: This is another Twitter account by the folks at Boston.com. As the name suggests, this gives updates on the Back Bay area. BackBayUpdate differs from BostonCalendar as it promotes more sophisticated events. BostonCalendar will inform you about indie rock shows, while this Twitter feed gives you all the info on art galleries, symphonies, and jazz clubs.

8 ) @OddBostonEvents: Another great Twitter account by Johnny Monsarrat. As you can assume by the name, Monsarrat provides us with all the quirky happenings around Boston. Like what, you ask? Check this from earlier this week: “TONIGHT: Boston Massacre re-enactment in Boston. TOMORROW: Train Show and Oscar-watching events.”

9) @bostonist: All Bostonians should follow Bostonist (and read the blog). This will keep you all up-to-date on everything you need to know about this fine city. From a comedy review of Norm MacDonald at the Wilbur Theatre to pot-hole updates, Bostonist will keep you in the loop.

10) @GameOnFenway: I follow quite a few Boston bars, but I think Game On does a great job. Get updates on happenings at the bar and look out for ticket give-aways. Follow them for a chance to win tickets for the sold-out Dropkick Murphy show tomorrow night.

Now, with all this said, follow Boston is a Playground on Twitter. I just started it up, so look up for upcoming tweets!

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Let’s go huskies!

I’ll admit, I never followed Northeastern Athletics too much. I always get pumped during the Beanpot tournament, and I was pretty upset when the university cut the football team. Besides that, I was pretty clueless when it came to Huskies on the court.

Well, the NU basketball team has been doing great! Tomorrow is going to be a big game (and my first NU basketball game, mind you). I definitely recommend you all checking it out.

The Huskies are taking on Louisiana Tech at 1 p.m. at Matthews Arena. This game is so big, even ESPN2 will be airing it.

If you don’t feel like the hustle and bustle of a basketball game there are other options for you. afterHOURS will be showing the game, as well as providing free pizza. Conor Larkins Grill and Tap will also be airing the game. Since it’s an early one, the Conors staff recommends you come in your PJs.

Here are some interesting Twitter feeds worth following: @wrbbsports, @espnboston, @keithlavon, and of course @HuntNewsNU. As always, make sure to check out gonu.com.

I’ll try to take some photos and hopefully some video to showcase on the blog. See you all at the game. Go huskies!

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Stephanie Miller visits Northeastern

Last week, Stephanie Miller, the director for digital media at WBZ, visited my Reinventing the News class to discuss the importance of social media in the future of journalism.

Miller mainly discussed WBZ’s Declare your Curiosity campaign.  The main idea behind Declare your Curiosity is for WBZ to find out from its audience what concerns them, what their passions and fears are, what makes them happy, and generally whatever questions they have. By gathering ‘curiosities,’ WBZ can approach their reporting in a way that will attract more viewership.

“One of the biggest opportunities that organizations have with tapping into communities is understanding what the community wants. Journalists are good at storytelling and local news needs to be about reflecting the concerns and moods of the community.”

Another extremely interesting point Miller made was about WBZ’s attempt to build community. She gave the example of Apple (she visited class the same day the iPAD was released), and how Steve Jobs has managed to gather a group of loyalists, which define the next generation of Apple products.

WBZ’s blogs and Twitter feed are two ways to use social media to enhance community engagement.  This is a way for WBZ to “build a presence in the audience’s lives,” Miller said.

Miller stressed the importance of creating a conversation with the audience, and making the relationship as interactive as possible. I think this is a very interesting and important way to approach journalism. I personally don’t understand those who criticize interactive tools like Twitter. Having experienced the feedback the Huntington News has received from utilizing Twitter and Facebook, I genuinely believe it’s a tool all news organization should take advantage of.

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