Bringing the region's online community together offline while helping local businesses learn how to use social media as an effective marketing tool is the goal behind monthly "tweetups" happening in Northwest Indiana.
The gatherings provide a stimulating meeting place for local marketers and designers, said NWITweetup organizers Kathy Sipple, and Dave Woodson and Nat Finn.
"Tweeting and social media in the region will grow with people's understanding of it," Finn said.
Anywhere from 25 to 50 people show up at the events, which gives the host business a chance to showcase its talents, Woodson said.
"We encourage everyone to come up with different ideas and we just kind of facilitate it," Finn said. "We're just trying to get the region ahead of the curve and close the technology gap between us and Chicago and Indianapolis."
NWITweetup began almost two years ago. Sipple got the idea after creating a website to support and update friends and relatives for a seriously ill family member. The connection with social media led her to leave her employment in real estate and become a social media coach.
Finn is an Internet marketing specialist for Golden Technologies in Valparaiso and Woodson is an affiliate and network marketer who consults small businesses on social media.
NWITweetup cost nothing to start up.
"That's one of the great things about social media," Woodson said. "It's free to an extent."
Sipple said the organization recently created a board and she resees it morphing more into a social media club.
"You meet the most generous people at tweetups," she said.
Past tweetups have featured guest speakers such as Harrison Painter, an Indianapolis-based Internet marketer, author Robby Slaughter and Douglas Karr of DK New Media in Indianapolis.