Tweeting During a Blind Date: Marie Claire, and Creating Moving Experiences

To be honest, I'm not sure how I caught wind of this. It must have been a happy accident, a random tweet coming through one of my TweetDeck search streams letting me know that Marie Claire Magazine was tweeting a live blind date at 7:30pm on 4/6. Really? My, how wonderfully interesting and potentially entertaining. People, after all, love drama and Marie Claire promised some with their tease "Marie Claire web associate Diana Vilibert is on a blind date with NYC comedian Adam Conover and they're both Twittering it live! Follow along and watch the drama unfold." So far so good, right?

Ok -- so let me get this straight. Dating? Check. Tweeting? Check. Drama? Check. All in one take? Check. This, in my mind, has the potential to be better than most of the things on TV tonight. Just like that, I was sucked into a brand that normally I would not spend any time on. At all. Marie Claire? Yes, I knew it was a magazine but if you had said that name to me, I would have said 1) that name sounds familiar, and 2) did I go to high school with her. There lies the power of social media, though. Chosen brand sponsors an interesting event, captures an audience, and in that moment has an opportunity to let me know what they're about.

Now it's 3:30pm EST. I've got hours before the blind date (note: someone needs to come up with a clever 'tword' for a blind date on twitter - blind tweet? blind tweetup?), and I cannot help but think that someone else had to have done this before. Twitter has been around for a few years, right? Marie Claire cannot be the first ones to do this, can they?

Enter Rob La Gesse and his blog Stuffleufagus. Rob is the Director of Customer Development at Mosso, a division of Rackspace. Rob was a Twitter early adopter, and in January 2008 he tweeted a blind date. Nice. Here's some context, something to set the stage or expectation for tonight. His twitterbud was Linda Sherman, who writes about "International Women's Lifestyle, Work, and Empowerment" in her blog It's Different For Girls. She caught his date, and basically went along for the ride. Overall, his date was crazy entertaining and Rob blogged about it. He and Linda had fun with the moment and interacted with the tweeples following along. The date did not work out for Rob, but their tweeting did as it they were interesting and captivating to read, knowing that these events occurred in real time. Their exchanges were spontaneous, chaotic, and authentic. People loved it.

At this point, I cannot wait to follow the date. I'm thinking that this type of planned event could spawn a new type of Twittertainment (could we call it the reality Tweet-com), almost like reading a book in real time and having to rely on your imagination to fill in the blanks between 140 characters. The beauty of this is that everyone, at one point or another, has gone on a blind date and can relate to the emotions, anxiety, fear, and anticipation that comes with meeting someone for the first time. Telling the world about it 140 characters at a time as the date unfolds could only magnify these feelings, right?   

The Good

Marie Claire was smart in how they promoted the event, setting up a hashtag (#mcdate) for the date and making sure that it was mentioned with the event. You can read the tweet transcript by clicking on the hashtag, or searching for #mcdate on Twitter search. The transcript starts at the end (page 12), so that you can navigate backwards and read the tweets in the order in which they were twaught (sorry). Leading up to the date, there clearly was some buzz. Both tweeters expressed they were nervous about the date while being funny about it (Diana's bra broke on her way to work, while Adam was concerned that his janky-ass old phone would impede his ability to tweet). Viewers were already chiming in, with one wondering why Adam looked like a Backstreet Boy and another exclaiming how cute it was that both Adam and Diana tweeted about throwing up at the same time.

True to form, their tweets were entertaining. Very, entertaining actually. Right off the bat, Adam found out he was older than Diana, admitted that she was cute, and was funny about how on her first bathroom break they may have run out of things to talk about.  I hope that was not true.  Diana, similarly, said that he's cute, loved how he Google-stalked her, and embarrassingly admitted that she had cat hair on her dress. Right on cue, a viewer offered that "A man who can love you with cat hair is a man who can stick around.", while another questioned if Adam has follow-envy (Diana has about 5k followers, while Adam has less than 1k). 

You simply cannot make this kind of dialog up.

The both agree to wager while bowling, with the loser buying a round of drinks for every game bowled. Diana did not like her shoes, (who has ever looked good in a pair of bowling shoes), but did, however, like his backside.  Awwwww.  Adam was clearly concerned with what his mother would think about the date, was very impressed with his bowling score, and in a moment of weakness stole a sip of her drink while she was in the bathroom. Halfway through the date, he gave himself a B+. He did, however, get three "fails" - one from Diana, one from @jennyRotten, and one from @renovationThrpy. 

Fails are awesome. 

In the end, I thought the event was very successful. It was entertaining, fun, spontaneous, humorous, and had the live / one-take appeal that makes walking away difficult. A great experience, thanks to the efforts of Marie Claire and their tweet-daters (you know, that could stick).

The Bad

While the event was entertaining, Marie Claire just barely scratched the surface of engaging the audience. Diana and Adam did not really have enough time to do anything other than provide their status without risking date momentum. The audience (me included), had questions and comments that mostly went unanswered. That being said, here are some suggestions for the next tweet date.
  • Promote the event. On the Marie Claire home page, there is a less than obvious reference to the tweet date. This could have been called out more, as it blended in with the other articles. Events that are opportunities to create fun, engaging, and memorable experiences for customers should be promoted as such.
  • Promote the participants. On the "twitter blind date" page, there is very little information about the date participants. Links do exist so that you can learn more about Adam, but there is no context behind why he is doing this. For Diana, her name links to her Twitter page. As someone that writes for Marie Claire, could that link have led to her bio? Or a list of articles she has written? I found some, but I had to find her homepage first. Promote your participants; the more your audience knows about them before the event, the more they will care and be invested in participating.
  • Include a narrator / color commentator. I am curious if a 3rd person / moderator "secretly" narrating the event would have helped engage the audience more. A 3rd party observer / narrator that leaves the tweet-daters alone but still tweets about what he sees while interacting with the audience could create a much more sticky experience (ex. a dating expert that narrates the date while fielding questions from the audience).
  • Take pictures. When Diana complained about her bowling shoes, I wanted to see them. Twitpicing at opportune moments would have brought the audience in even more. Again, a narrator / observer taking pictures of the event would have added a lot.
  • Make sure that technology doesn't sabotage the event. Both Adam and Diana complained about their phones. For a staged event like this, there is no reason that the tweet-daters should have to worry about tweeting on a janky-ass phone.
  • Pay attention to details. It's not "Twittering", it's "Tweeting". Sure, it's minor. It does, however, show the Marie Claire is new to this.
In the end, Marie Claire, Diana, and Adam deserve credit and kudos for making this a success. I imagine that we will begin to see more and more of this type of event; a reality Tweetup of some kind for people to observe and participate in. People could tweet dates, engagements, reality events, with each event being sponsored by a brand that draws in viewers over time (imagine Tweeting the Bachelor, or the Amazing Race).   That is what is so exciting me about this event and social media in general; there is just so much possibility and potential. 

Hmmmm; I think I may start a Reality Tweet Production Company (RealiTweet).

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  1. Linda Sherman April 7, 2009 at 6:12 AM

    Good article Abraham!

    Twitter is so much about timing. I just happened to be interacting with Rob when he began to prepare for his blind date.

    Being in the Single Life biz (Singelringen & SingularCity), and at the same time a genuine cyber pal of Rob's, I was fascinated when he mentioned he would tweet his blind date. It was definitely a fun night.

    I certainly wouldn't recommend tweeting on a blind date if you actually want it turn out. A few tweets in the bathroom is one thing but no one is going to be turned on by full time tweeting.

  2. Abraham April 9, 2009 at 11:49 AM

    Great to catch up with you, Linda. I was able to tweet a bit with Rob last night, and he got a kick out of the story. As it turns out, he also did a job interview over Twitter. Now that's being a pioneer. I wonder what's next; doing your taxes over Twitter?

    Again -- it was great meeting you. Thanks for your help with my post. Tweet soon. ;-)