This is the first half of a two-part article about how average users' mistakes on Twitter can be learning tools for handmade businesses looking to establish their social media presence. I encourage you to check out each linked article and to check back on November 19, 2010 for the second part of this story.
|Check out HautTotes on Twitter.|
If you're like me (i.e. not really at the 10,000+ follower level or even in shouting distance) and don't already have a strong customer base or online following to funnel into Twitter, you're probably reading forum posts, blog articles, and e-newsletters written from these aforementioned social media experts about how to navigate Twitter and increase your followers. There are tons of them out there - and by them I mean both articles and self-declared experts. For this blog article, I'm taking a different approach than I did last time. While I still stand by my advice that using hashtags effectively and filling out your profile information can increase your following, not doing those things will probably not keep people from buying from you. The things that will are the focus of this post. I want to talk about how you can keep the followers you already have and avoid damaging your business with your tweets. This is based on what the experts say, actual real life situations, and my personal experience using Twitter both primarily for business and primarily for social interaction.
Obvious, right? I didn't say these tips would be rocket science. :) Whether you're running a business or just chatting for fun, what you say on Twitter can really come back to bite you in the butt. Don't think so? Remember when Facebook started and then slowly expanded and became more popular? Remember when law enforcement, employers, and school officials started accessing it and then started holding people
|Photo by edvvc|
Anyway, now I'm digressing and feeling nostalgic. If you don't remember the advent of the home computer, the internet, and the subsequent social media explosion dominated by MySpace and Facebook, here's a recent (as in this month) story for you to relate to: Check out what happened to this student who posted a comment on Facebook that landed him in jail, barred him from finishing college, and is basically killing his dreams for the foreseeable future. While I doubt you or the average Facebook user will ever have these kind of consequences for what you post, it's important to bring up because there are more common, lesser consequences for less egregious behavior as well. There are tons of personal problems you could encounter, but for the purposes of this discussion we'll focus on the repercussions for your business.
|Alex Payne's tweet caused considerable backlash.|
- Anything absolutely stupid. Again, if it has the potential to get you in trouble with law enforcement, your boss, or your school, just don't mention it on Twitter. Go old school and do what I did before Xanga and Live Journal became cool - write it down with a pen in a real-life paper journal and keep it off the internet. Remember too, it's not always the case that an offending tweet is inherently stupid and it may even be something you'd say out loud to a friend in real life. Just take a few seconds to think
Did you know that your tweets are in Google and Bing?
- Criticism directed towards a customer. This is dangerous for two reasons. The first should be obvious. That person could come across your rant and decide to do everything they can to oppose you if they haven't already - from leaving scathing feedback to starting an active online campaign against you (I've seen it done). Alternatively, if they are a reasonable person and would have accepted your genuine attempts to correct their dissatisfaction, you pretty much end all chance of that working out when you attack them on Twitter. At best, you've just lost a customer and lost any business that customer might have referred to you. The second reason is also pretty easy to figure out. People are generally turned off by that kind of negativity. A potential customer is going to think "Gee, look at the way she's talking about Customer X. I don't want someone talking about me like that! I bet she has poor customer service if that is how she treats people!"
- Controversial topics. Now this is going to be different for different people. While I originally stayed away from tweets like these, I do now post about my support for LGBT issues, women's rights, and progressive political causes. I've probably lost a few followers for that, but I don't mind. My support
the charitable causes I'm involved in through Etsy. If you are someone that has a problem buying from someone that holds these types of convictions, you're not going to purchase from me whether or not I'm tweeting. And for the record, I seem to have a diverse group of Twitter followers who have all types of different belief systems. So there is nothing wrong in theory with voicing your personal opinions on your business twitter, but keep it calm. Don't attack other users for their views, don't bully, and try not to alienate large portions of your potential customer base.
Until next time,