FollowSA press release – February 2012
Twitter meetups are fast becoming a part of everyone’s diaries and many associate this new way of socialising with the Twitter #FollowSA hashtag founded by Jodene Shaer of Lifeology. Better known by her Twitter handle, @jodenecoza, is praised for her contribution to connecting South African’s online and encouraging them to connect offline. Driven by the hashtag #FollowSA she encourages individuals to Tweet the ways in which their lives have been touched or changed by connecting with someone online. She has driven the hashtag by Retweeting anyone’s request for assistance, support and queries that someone within her 19 800 followers could assist with.
“Every day I see more people discovering the potential of #FollowSA and the Twitter Timeline is filled with connections, friendships and support,” says Shaer.
What began as a Tweet that connected two South Africans together has now grown into the hashtag that is active daily, with its slogan, “bringing people together online to form communities’ offline”, with #FollowSA meetups having an annual calendar of events.
The first #FollowSA Tweetup was launched at the Crowne Plaza Johannesburg hotel on August 31st 2011 and ended the year at the breathtaking settings of La Vie en Rose in Illovo with #downdown2011. Shaer tells of her constant attempts at trying to get funding for these events in order to cater for the attendees. “Although we are generously supported with venues and prizes, we had not managed to get cash funding for any past events and wanted our guests to experience the complete package that is La Vie en Rose,” says Shaer.
With hundreds of individuals supporting #FollowSA and over 250 people Tweeting about the #downdown2011 event, celebrity and supporter of the hashtag, Emmanuel Castis, stepped forward to assist with sourcing cash funding and introduced 8ta to @jodenecoza. “8ta took the first step in changing the face of #FollowSA with a cash donation for catering. The stats show that the move was a good one with over 1000 Tweets about the #downdown2011 events, with many of those mentions including the 8ta Twitter Handle, @8tada.
The new trend of catered events was embraced by the Protea Hotels Fire and Ice Melrose Arch and the year’s #FollowSA Tweetups kicked off with a fully catered affair for #Howzit2012. “Anton Gillis, the General Manager of Fire and Ice, pulled out all the stops and Tweets praised the catering, hospitality and venue as the most successful Tweetup South Africa has seen,” says Shaer.
#Howzit2012 was the largest recorded #FollowSA event with over 130 guests and over 2000 Tweets on the day and continuing into the next 24 hours with post event hype. Much of the excitement was thanks to the phenomenal entertainment by Caitlin the Electric Violinist and the generous sponsorship by Lovoka, welcoming guests with a signature adult milkshake which is renowned at the Fire and Ice Melrose Arch hotel.
“I’m always graciously touched by the celebrities who are so willing to partake in #FollowSA and thank Sibu Radebe and Crushanda Forbes for starting out as guests and ending up taking the stage to add that extra touch for the prize winner,” says Shaer.
With countless Capetonians wanting in on the #FollowSA Tweetups, Travel.co.za jumped onboard to fly the founders Jodene Shaer and Greg Arthur to Cape Town. Once again, the generosity of Protea Hotels spills over to Fire and Ice Cape Town for the #HowzitCPT Tweetup on the 17th of February. Emmanuel Castis will be joining the Joburgers on their trip to the Mother City and entertaining the crowds for the event.
“#FollowSA has more on the cards,” says Shaer, “with Durban and Pretoria events in the wings and Johannesburg’s first family day. We will also be putting together our first of many teams to walk the Deloitte Pretoria marathon and hope to extend that to challenges that supports charities nationwide.”
#FollowSA have already hosted a food drive for Nkosi’s Haven and in the midst of December holidays the generosity of the Twitter community collected R20 000 worth of food to see the Haven through the festive season.
Shaer recognised by the international technology blog, Mashable, as an official event organiser and #FollowSA will be hosting International Social Media event across the nation on June 30th, along with countries all over the world.
While Cape Town gears up for its first event, Joburg is planning March 2012 at Newscafe in Woodmead. For all #FollowSA events subscribe to the public Google calendar.
For more on #FollowSA read What is #FollowSA?