Why should your business join the Twitterati?

In it to win it

And here is the big news for those of you who aren’t on there every day yet… there is a hell of a lot of business happening on twitter every single second.

If you haven’t looked into it recently, take 10 minutes and have another look.
It is funny thinking back to when all of us had and actually used our fax machines. They seem so archaic now and we must only use ours a few times a year, in fact, l don’t know why we still have it, really. 

But just as the fax machine seems old now, you are going to seem very old-fashioned if you don’t get into Twitter PDQ – you are missing out on a free marketing trip right now.
So you probably all know that Twitter is a bit like the ‘status’ part of Facebook without all the rest of the gumf and that you can upload pictures or hyperlinks via your phone and attach them to your tweets. 

You’ve probably also noticed that each tweet has to be really short (a max of 114 characters). 

And you may have also realised that you can search for people you know or do business with (or want to do business with) and follow them. You can also search for your competitors on there and watch what they are up to.

So what? How does all of this convert into useful business activity?

A newbie
I am relatively new to all this. 

My own history on twitter is that I started my twitter account (it is free – and only takes five minutes to set up and link to your iPhone or Blackberry) around one-and-a-half to two years ago.

When I first started using it I didn’t know anything about it at all.

It all seemed a bit confusing to me and people were often tweeting lots of # symbols and I wasn’t sure what it all meant and it didn’t seem very relevant to my business.
So when I first joined twitter, I just tweeted a few times a week about a business thing. Perhaps tweeting that we had a new blog up or something like that.

I wasn’t really sure why i was doing it and my account didn’t seem to have that many followers. 

But I thought I had better to do it and not get left behind. And, over time, my behaviour on twitter and therefore my results have dramatically changed.

Getting into the swing
Gradually, a few people started ‘following’ me. You can easily see who is following you and I noticed that there were lots of other people in the jewellery industry following me (good for my ego and confidence). 

At first I though that was great and perhaps twitter would be a good way to keep in touch with what was going on in the industry, which might be handy. 

So I followed a whole load of other people in the industry and found out a few interesting bits and pieces and what people are working on at the moment.  Slightly handy.
However, then I also noticed that several customers started following us and then other interesting people.  Journalists and also people l had never heard of before started following me. 

I started following a few of them and then looking for other people to follow.

Before I knew it, I was hooked. This was about six months ago. 

And every day I do some useful business on twitter one way or another and it only takes me about 10 minutes a day to keep up with it.

In fact, twitter has been really useful for me recently as a way of seeing what people think of my designs and getting feedback on them.

For example, a few people have been asking me about our amber teething necklaces and other amber jewellery so it’s made me realise that there’s probably more demand out there for this product than l had previously anticipated.

I think the key here is that twitter gives people a really easy way of getting in touch with you and if you can capitalise on this then all the better for your business. 

And just a few weeks ago at the UK Jewellery Awards l was able to tweet that l had won the Business Initiative of the Year award, just minutes after it had been announced. Instant PR!
No pressure
I like the fact that, unlike e-mail, everybody’s space is very limited.

You also don’t have to reply to everything so there is no pressure – it’s nothing like an e-mail account full of messages with the stress of having to reply. 

You can just tell the world what is going on and then leave it alone for a bit – or keep an eye on it – totally up to you. 

No pressure. I like no pressure.
Also, unlike e-mail, most people on twitter (even if they are really well known) are tweeting personally – not getting their staff to do it. 

You get a really personal viewpoint from people and also a way of getting a message to them directly.

If you pick your time carefully, you might even get an answer. And if this person has thousands and thousands of followers, then when they answer, all of those followers see the answer and also become aware of your twitter account. Some may start following you if you look interesting.

So when you are on there, you can actually go out of your way to try to get an interesting twitter account to re-tweet one of your tweets, or to mention you to all of their followers (for me, it’s great if l can get Sunday Times Style magazine or the jewellery press to re-tweet me).
A social sales tool
More recently, I noticed that a few of our customers had started following us. 

So suddenly I realised that I have a fantastic way to show any new products that we have made including one-off products that I don’t have time to put online.

I can just snap a pic on my iPhone and upload it with a free application directly to twitter in about 10 seconds with a caption including a link of how to get it. 

Before I would make a one-off product and put it in our studios and show it to the few customers who happened to come in if I was around at that moment. 

Now, I can take a snap, upload it and people are driving in especially to see that product before it gets sold to somebody else or phoning and asking us to mail it to them.  Brilliant.  This is starting to get really good!
Also twitter can be linked to your Linkedin account so that any tweets you post are automatically shown as status updates on Linkedin, which is really handy… you only have to make updates in one place.

It is now dawning on me, at last, that the power of twitter for marketing and PR is incredible.
Imagine if you had a way to tell something like 1000 people who are interested in your business something every single day? 

Perhaps about a new product, what you are working on that is really cutting edge, an award that you won, or even what you are inspired by today? 

This is a constant reminder of your existence to your customers. 

They can’t forget you if they are ‘following’ you as they will see your posts every day and this really helps to build extra customer loyalty. 

Some customers get a bit tired of your e-mailing them with special promotions or information about events. My hope is that if I can get them all to follow me on twitter then I will simply have to type 114 characters with a link to information and then they can all see it really easily and even recommend it to their friends without me clogging up their inboxes.

Tweet about anything and everything – make it interesting!
The big breakthrough for me was the realisation that it was sometimes quite boring of me to tweet exclusively about the business or blog posts. 

When I started tweeting about more personal aspects of my work (photos of jewellery I am making during production, my opinions on the latest piece of our collection, what I thought about a fashion article) more people started following me. 

Then, when I started giving a little more (how l am feeling today, what l am doing this weekend) I realised that you’ve got to make your twitter account interesting and funny if you can. Then, people don’t only follow you but they also start re-tweeting your tweets to their own followers or giving you a #FF (Follow Friday) recommendation, which means that they suggest to their followers that they also follow you.

I’m still a beginner at this but I’m watching how really good twitterers do it and l’m learning all of the time.
It is also really easy for people to speak to you in a public conversation by simply using your twitter ID in their text, e.g. @HarrietKelsall.

This is great as you are effectively recommending each other to your own followers.

And if you don’t have much to say one day, you can simply re-tweet funny or interesting tweets from someone you are following, which is a quick and easy way to keep your account current and up-to-date.
If you are still a bit nervous, or worried it may take up too much of your valuable time, my advice is to sign up to twitter, download the free twitter and twitpic apps to your smartphone and start following a few random people who seem to be tweeting about business a lot and who are in your industry or a similar one. 

Look and learn and just watch for a bit. 

For me, I started by watching some of the fashion bloggers who I found set a good example of twitter behaviour.

It is also a good idea to get another member of staff tweeting for your business too but separately so that is a bit personal and from a different point of view.
There are also hundreds of articles on Google about how to use twitter in your business, some of which are quite useful, and even Youtube clips.
So I do urge you to give it a go. Oh and by the way – l’m @HarrietKelsall – see you on there!