So you’ve read the news (twitter, twitter, twitter), listened to the hype (twitter, twitter, twitter) and you’ve set yourself up an account. Now what? Let your account sit dormant and wonder what all the fuss is about? You could, but Twitter has the potential to be very powerful to the hospitality industry and in my opinion its here to stay. Not to sound cliched but the sooner you get involved with medium such as twitter the less likely you are to get left behind!
The basics and a few facts:
- Twitter is essentially micro-blogging, users share their thoughts and opinions in no more than 140 characters – otherwise known as ‘tweets’.
- Tweets can be private or shared with the world, the vast majority of twitterers share with the world. In this sense it allows users to share their thoughts and opinions with whoever is following them.
- You don’t have to be at a computer to tweet a message. This can be done easily from your phone in the form of a text. Not only does this make it easy to update, it allows complete access to anyone with a mobile phone.
- You will receive tweets from the people you follow and only people following your will receive your tweets.
- In March this year comScore recorded 4 million unique visitors to twitter.com, in April an amazing 9 million+! Its growth rate is unlike anything seen before.
A simplistic overview, but then again Twitter is remarkably simple in its make-up. It’s the philosophy behind it and the way it’s used that companies so often get wrong. One of the difficulties with mastering Twitter, along with many other forms of social media, is they are so different from traditional mediums.
Social media is routed in personal and individual contact, and so to should any marketing or brand communications within it. To be successful it must be viewed as a two-way dialogue, unlike traditional forms such as flyers or posters – which are typically one-way. As a result the playing field is entirely different, right from how often you make contact to how you say it and what you say. The bonus – you’re actually speaking to the people that matter, your customers.
Here’s a few hints and tips to get you started…
- Be prepared to listen and adapt your messages. The Internet is an interesting form of democracy, but democratic, it is. If you mess up in anyway – you’ll know it: either by people tweeting back at you or through people not following you at all.
- Learn more than you teach. You’ll no doubt have some interesting facts, insights & funny stories to tell, but the real power of twitter is the gathering of information. Use it right and you’ll learn more about your customers/target market than you have done in years offline.
- Give more than you take.
- Do not endlessly self-promote – people may expect self-promotion in an advert, even a conversation in your restaurant, but they don’t on twitter. This is not a forum to spread corporate messages or for the hard sell (yawn), it is a place for personal contact with your followers.
- Make sure that what you say is a true representation of your company. Twitter is a free network where people can say what they think and you may find yourself being exposed. Starbucks have utilised the Internet to great effect to revamp their brand from a pillar of exploitative capitalism, to a conscientious company. However, in May this year, a Starbucks Twitter campaign was hi-jacked by documentary maker Robert Greenwald, who exposed the poor working conditions of Starbucks employees.
- Send messages your target audience would want to hear. A fascination with wine? In the know of a funky event coming up? Had a tough day? Tweet your knowledge and experiences and if people are interested they will follow you. My favourite example of this is Zappos, one of the great success stories of Twitter.
- Ensure you define a clear purpose for your account. Why are you tweeting? What can people expect? Do you own an Italian Restaurant and have a particularly keen passion for Italian food & wine. Will you be updating people on the daily occurrences in your restaurant? Tell people what to expect in your summary, and they’ll be more likely to follow you.
- Update regularly. Twitter is there to be used; the occasional message will attract few followers or buzz around your business.
- Don’t overtweet! Okay, so there’s a balance – no one wants to hear what you’re doing every 10 minutes.
- If you provide links of interest, explain them! Not everyone is interested in the same thing, so tell people what you’re linking to or they won’t click the link.
- Spread the word! Direct people from your website, facebook and other online activities to your twitter account. Tell people in your venue, include it on advertising promotions, on your business card – get as many people following you as possible. When you have a good following, you have free access to the people that matter. The majority of our followers have come from our Brightbox Updates, (sign up here!), and our website.
- Don’t spam on Twitter. Allow word of mouth to carry your offer or promotion through Twitter. Spam will only feel intrusive and result in negative publicity.
- Twitter is not a promotional page for your blog. Twitter is different to facebook, blogs, myspace, digg it and so on. If you only promote these other mediums through Twitter, you’ll find yourself a lonely little tweeter.
- Follow similar twitterers. Other bars, restaurants, hotels, cafes, customers talking about the same thing as you? Follow them! You can share information, attract more followers and increase your website hits. Our favourite this week, mainly because they’ve just started and seem to be getting it right, is Wahaca
- Offer something of value to your followers. Not only will this attract more followers, but it is a very simple and cheap way to drive sales in venue.
- Upload a photo, change your background. This will make your account more personal and ensure people remember you! Just like we’ve done…
- Search for your brand. You may not be on twitter yet, but it doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about you. Type in your company name or brand – you may gain some valuable insights. Better yet, set up an RSS feed which allows you to monitor your brand online. EasyTweets gives you graphical representations of how your brand is being mentioned. Not sure about RSS? See our glossary.
- Have fun! Whilst it’s important to keep a balance, humour is definitely a big part of twitter.
- Don’t sell directly. Users are sensitive to direct sales, give insights and you’ll achieve your goal.
- Twitter is about connection, so connect.
If anyone has any more tips for twitter, please post them below and I will incorporate them into the article. You can find us @ignitetweet, feel free to follow us!