VIDEO: North Staffordshire Twitter users meet up for a Tweet-up at historic Burslem pub
TWITTER users stepped from behind their online guises to meet fellow enthusiasts during a face-to-face networking session.
The Sentinel rolled out its first ever 'tweet-up' last night to give readers an opportunity to meet newspaper staff along with other community leaders from across Stoke-on-Trent.
Those attending broke the 140-character maximum for a tweet as they enjoyed an evening discussing the merits of the social networking phenomenon and to meet those they 'follow'.
Sentinel staff met up with company bosses, authors, communications managers and even a church pastor during the bash at Burslem's Leopard pub.
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Editor-in-chief Mike Sassi said: "It is always interesting to meet readers and advertisers of The Sentinel – even more so when you have been talking to them for months on Twitter.
"Newspapers are all about communication and meeting the community and The Sentinel is a platform for people's views. Twitter and social media are a natural extension of that.
"It is a fantastic method for us to stay in touch with what is going on and people will tweet about every issue in their life. A huge number of stories start on Twitter."
The Sentinel's Twitter account – @thisisstaffs – currently has more than 6,600 followers with thousands also registered on the newspaper's website www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk.
Chris Hogg, the newspaper's digital publisher, said: "We thought this would be a good idea for the Twitter users of the area to get to together and put some names to faces.
"Twitter is a valuable news gathering tool and you can pick up stories as they are happening.
"For example while we had a reporter on the scene at the fire at Twyfords site recently people were submitting pictures over Twitter."
Last night's event – which saw a stand-up comedy routine from Sentinel columnist John Woodhouse – allowed users from different walks of life to explain just what Twitter means to them.
Sandra Barber is a communications manager for Staffordshire Housing Association (@staffshousing) as well as being a member of the Stoke West and Oakhill Community Association (@swocast4).
The 49-year-old, of Stoke, a presenter on 6 Towns Radio, whose personal account is @barbersandra, said: "Twitter is a good way of spotting information from the local community and communicating.
"Tonight has been a great chance to speak to people I have previously chatted to on Twitter."
Adam Whittaker, aged 40, of Basford, an NHS communications manager who runs @staffslifestyle, said: "Twitter is great to get a message out very quickly.
"It is a good way for us to communicate with other agencies and to find out what is going on in the area."