Okay, possibly an unfair headline, but I do have to admit that SOME time does get wasted on Twitter chatting back and forth @people when I should be packing boxes (yes, I’m moving house) or doing a new design or working on my POD stores or writing my screenplay or learning lines or … well, you get the idea.
I only notice how much time gets spent there when I’m busy … and I’m always busy these days. But I’ve discovered that Twitter also serves a very useful purpose. Because of the people I follow, I get instant updates about POD stuff, Film industry stuff, acting-related stuff, breaking news (I follow several news outlets) and I can also find out whether my friends and colleagues are home or at work to (Horror! Heaven forbid!!) actually call them on the phone.
Twitter is also a good marketing tool. I’m still working my way around it and finding just the right combination, but I have noticed that when I ‘tweet’ about a new product line or t-shirt design or website, the hit rate does go up and in some cases results in sales or new clients. It’s early days yet, but I am encouraged by the trend.
I was going to set up a seperate account just for business tweeting, but as I don’t say anything too personal on Twitter, I figured it would be much more interesting to just jumble it all together and see what happens – if I was just tweeting about my POD stores or web design efforts, that would get very boring, very quickly. (Not saying that my life is all that interesting either, I hardly think anyone cares that I just went out to buy a second hand fridge, but at least it’s not all about the hard sell, which these days is the quickest way to turn people off in a social networking environment).
So, in light of my own Twitter experiment (mixing business with pleasure), here are a few basic “dos” when using Twitter for your small business:
DO keep it personal
Not in the “I just caught my husband cheating and am now going to cut up all his clothing & change the locks” kind of personal, but chatty, light and fun. Talk about your favourite cafe, an interesting news item that caught your eye, a good TV program you watched – little snippets (well, you only get 140 characters anyway!) of information that gives a sense of who you are and what you’re into.
DO respect your “followers” sanity
Be careful how much you talk about your products/services. A few times a day – fine. 100 tweets about the same t-shirt in 2 hours … a big no-no. People have the right to “unfollow” you, so don’t make them feel overwhelmed with tweets about what you’re selling to the point where they hit that ‘Unfollow’ link (is that even a word? Well, I guess it is now!). They are following you to find out what you’re up to – sure, but show them that you’re a human being with other things to talk about and they’ll keep reading what you write.
DO be informative
I’m yet to fully implement this one, but do try to share information about your industry. Found an interesting article? Share the url (if you use an application like TweetDeck, you can shorten the url easily to fit into the 140 character requirements). Have an opinion about a current issue? Share it (as long as it’s professional and not defamatory, of course). Have a great cause you’re supporting? Share the link. For example, I just found an interview with Guillermo del Toro about his filming ‘The Hobbit’, and his upcoming films “Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde” as well as “Frankenstein”. As I love his work, I’ve shared the article on Twitter (you’ll find the interview here, if you’re interested). I’ve also found that when doing this, some of the larger publications using Twitter and who are following me, re-tweet the post, so getting my Twitter profile link out to a larger group of people than just those following me.
DO try to be interesting
Okay, so I also fall down here a bit … as I said – sharing that I’m going out to buy a fridge is NOT earth-shattering, life-changing news for those following me, but if I put something with it like “ah, the joys of moving house on a budget” (which I did), at least that’s an attempt to relate to others who have or are going through the same thing in this current economic climate. (Well, that’s my justification and I’m sticking to it!). If you have to share that your dog just chewed your underwear – find a way to make it interesting – maybe share a photo of your dog? Wearing one of your dog t-shirts? Sorry, I’m digressing … 😉
Actually, on the subject of being interesting – I follow Kevin Rudd on Twitter (yes, Australia’s Prime Minister has a Twitter account too) and just had to laugh at this latest one: “Big week. Few things on. Just appointed John Faulkner as Defence Minister.” LOL. Yeah, just a casual day running the country. That was followed by “First Defence Minister with original set of Clark Kent glasses. A first rate Minister – he will do well.” Yes, we have Superman as our Defence Minister – I know I’ll be sleeping better tonight 😉 Not sure if that’s interesting, but it made me laugh – possibly not for the right reasons …
And finally …
DO format your links properly
If you are an affiliate and promoting products housed in their original sites (ie. Zazzle, Skreened, etc), make sure you format your links properly with your affiliate code. Not sure what happens to the code when you shorten the urls, but I believe they stay intact and really, if you’re promoting stuff to make money, do it properly! Again, TweetDeck offers a shortening url service from the application, to make tweeting that much easier in this respect.
I’ll finish this post with a thought from Ashton Kutcher (yes, I follow him too) who just posted this tweet: “things don’t happen to you they happen for you.” I quite like that. I might even “favourite” it.
You can follow me on Twitter here.