The accidental Twitter ambush

By: Jillian Ney

Date: 26 July 2011

Watching my Twitter feed in February, I noticed a few tweets from entrepreneur Linda Cheung and came across a tweetup (a real world meet-up that occurs as a consequence of Twitter) that was being organised on the back of attendance at the LEX 2011 conference.

I couldn’t have envisioned the impact of the tweetup until I spoke with Linda a few weeks later. Linda wasn’t attending the LEX conference (like most start-ups, her company was working to a tight budget) but knew that Brian Inkster was attending. So they arranged an informal meeting on Twitter after day one of LEX. 

Rightly using the hashtag for the conference (#LEX2011) in the tweets, the conversation was quickly picked up by others in Linda and Brian’s networks and, brilliantly, by other conference attendees.

By the power of viral, the tweetup became more popular than the conference itself! As the tweetup grew, #Lex2011tweetup trended above the official conference. More and more attendees signed up for the tweetup and many thought it was part of the official conference.

I started to get a little excited about this – that will be the marketer in me….

Linda unintentionally ambushed the conference. She also got to meet the people she wanted without paying conference fees.

Well done Linda! Many a marketer would love to claim this fame.

Ambush marketing

Linda’s success got me thinking more about ambush marketing.

Using the official conference or event hashtag you could literally tweet yourself into affiliation. You could even run an unofficial parallel event.

One of my PhD colleagues was unintentionally affiliated with a conference. She commented on a Tweet with the official conference hashtag and was subsequently mentioned in blogs concerning the conference and gained new Twitter followers.

Twitter is allowing us to reach places, people and events where we would not normally have a huge impact. Linda’s ambush tweetup is a great tangible example of the opportunities Twitter can provide. So, can we really use Twitter as a new ambush marketing strategy?

I’ve yet to test but I would think success would be dependent on:

  • The event and your perceived link to the event
  • The ambush, what you are trying to arrange
  • The content of your Tweets (no sales pitches)

Have you willingly or unwillingly ambushed an event through Twitter?  It would be great to hear your stories.

Jillian Ney is a doctoral researcher and marketing tutor at the University of Strathclyde. Jillian’s research explores the use of social media in purchase decisions. Linda Cheung is social media convert and CEO of web start-up CubeSocial.

You can read more about the power of Twitter in the following articles: