I love Twitter! A large percentage of the views on my product links come from Twitter - for me it's second only to Google. The microblogging platform is a big deal in 2010 and if you haven't tried it you should. I believe that microblogging shares a same major principle with blogging - if you really believe it can do nothing to help your business, you don't understand how to use it right. Contrary to what most of my family believes, it's not just a bunch of people tweeting about what they ate for lunch or what they're doing at 6:45 pm today. The ones that just tweet mundane details are people who don't last long on Twitter. To me, Twitter's about social interaction, sharing of good information, and revolutionizing the way people chat online.
So, for the novices, there are plenty of guides you can get for free or a low cost (don't pay more than a couple of $), so check them out via Google if you need to know how to set up a Twitter account, how to follow other users, and other basic information. Once you have signed up and read about how the interface works, these are some of my tips for Twitter success based on what I've observed, how I use Twitter, and what I've read from the experts in social media:
1. Fill out your profile completely. I cannot stress this enough. Add a picture (preferably of your face, but of your product if you're extremely shy). People are trying to connect with you and your business and you're not branding very well if your photo is the stock "tweety bird." Then get a background, preferably one other than the ones provided by Twitter. My backgrounds are usually free blog backgrounds that I edit in Photoshop, but you can find some great free backgrounds already made up if you just do a Google search. Most importantly, fill out the 160 character text about yourself. Fill it with keywords like "Etsy" and "handmade" so that people who are searching Twitter for new people to follow will find you and instantly know you are someone they want to follow. Most people, including myself, tend not to follow back people who don't fill out this portion of text. It only takes a few seconds, so don't forget to do it.
2. There are tons of websites out there like tinyurl or bit.ly which you can use to shorten your links. Always try to remember to shorten them. Some Twitter apps like HootSuite (my favorite) have a link-shorten feature built right into the interface. Why does this matter? Well you want people to RT (retweet) your tweets and using smaller URLs make it easier for your friends to do just that. Remember, when someone RTs from an outside application like HootSuite or TweetDeck, your name is appended to the tweet. If you've used all 140 characters because your link is so long, it makes it a hassle to RT your tweet because I'll be over the character limit. I either have to edit the tweet and delete some of your text or shorten the URL for you. You don't want to lose out, so make it as easy as possible for us fellow Twitter users to click that button and send your message to all of our followers.
3. Use hashtags properly! Don't waste space in your tweet adding hashtags for words already in your tweet. For example, if you post "Check out my new Zibbet shop!", you don't also need to add the hashtag #zibbet because people who search for "zibbet" will find your tweet without it. Use that space for someone to type a response when RTing or add a hashtag for a word that's not already somewhere else in your tweet (like "jewelry"). Twitter is based on efficiency and being able to maximize 140 characters to send meaningful messages. Redundancy is not so efficient.
4. Talk to people! Follow some people and read their current tweets. Reply to one of them. RT tweets of theirs that you find interesting, funny, helpful, or otherwise great. This builds up your credibility on Twitter, because people that follow you will benefit from the content you're sharing. Now, when you reply to someone else's tweet, sometimes the person will reply and sometimes they won't. Focus on building relationships with the ones who do. Chances are they will follow you back and if your tweets are worthwhile, they'll respond and/or RT. You really want those RTs because they allow you to reach other people's followers with your business-related messages - you're able to spread your influence to a much larger number of people than you could otherwise. You can find people to talk to in lots of ways: using the search feature, browsing directories, following lists, etc. If you really can't find anyone to tweet with and you want to get started, just send a message to @ellexmarie and I'll chat with you and help point you in the right direction. Or, check out my Twitter followers and follow the ones who look interesting. Most of them will follow you back.
5. Be professional and personal at the same time. What I mean is, it's okay to talk about your personal life on Twitter. Just remember that when someone Googles your shop name, your tweets will come up in the search. Make sure that whatever you say is something you don't mind being attached to your business and brand. Remember, the things you say could keep someone from shopping in your store so be professional even when you don't feel like it. Be yourself but use discretion. If I'm not being clear enough let me give an example - it's okay for you to tell us that your significant other dumped you (we'll reach out to support you), but don't tell us about your latest sexcapade because only your best friend should hear about it (not your potential customers.)
I hope these tips help you avoid some of the common artisan Twitter faux-pas and maximize your use of the powerful social networking tool. Do you already use Twitter? Share one of your tips for new tweeps! (That's Twitter + peeps.) Did you just sign up recently? Let us know your username so we can give you some followers!
Until next time,