Social Media Basics: Terrific Tweeting

Social Media Basics: Terrific Tweeting
By Heather Gooch

The concept behind Twitter.com — registered members express their thoughts to the world in 140 characters or less — was created in 2006 by a group of friends who worked for a podcasting company. According to its chronicled history at 140Characters.com, it was meant to serve as a dispatch service to connect people on their phones via text updates.


In four short years, Twitter has evolved to become a major component of social media — and by extension, social media marketing. It’s a simple setup: You create a free Twitter account and profile, then start "following” people from whom you want to receive updates. Celebrities, friends, business colleagues — "tweeting” is the great equalizer. And if at any time you realize someone you’re following wasn’t one of your better decisions, breaking things off is much less painful than it would be in real life: Hit the "un-follow” button.Once you start "following” other posters, chances are that at least some of them will reciprocate and follow you. This means they can see your posts, contact you through the "direct message” option, and even "re-tweet” a post you made that they want to pass on to their followers.

Eleanore Brown, also known as @FiberBeads, currently has 1,326 followers who enjoy her eclectic mix of observations and yes, subtle sales talk."

All over various forums and blogs, I see people discussing how they ‘don’t get Twitter’ and so they put off even trying,” she says. "But to me, it’s just like talking to your friends. Are customers becoming followers or do followers become customers? Either way, you’re staying connected and building loyalty.”

Char Anderson, also known as @char_anderson, agrees. With 4,221 followers and the status of being the Wyoming resident with the second-highest Twitter following, she knows of whence she speaks.

"I blog, but sometimes I find it difficult to compose an entire post,” she admits. "140 characters, I can do!”

Anderson, who like Brown joined Twitter in the early days after reading about it and becoming intrigued, took note of what people she was following were doing in their posts and used them as her model. Like a lively cocktail party, the Twitter "stream” is filled with factoids, links to sites and news stories, gossip, observations and even public conversations that can be between two posters or the world.

Anderson says a balanced combination of post types is key.

"Followers want to know what’s in it for them,” she says. "‘I just listed _______’ gets tiresome. Give a hint or a tip, a link to an inspirational photo or quote. You’ve got to mix it up to keep them interested.”

Brown, a full-time librarian who creates her art on evenings and weekends, finds that posting and scheduling a cluster of tweets after work makes the most sense for her lifestyle. Anderson is a full-time jewelry and textile artist who sets aside 30 minutes daily, whether in one sitting or in short, 10-minute bursts throughout the day, to update her Twitter account, her dog’s Twitter account (@Arazi, currently the fourth-highest Wyoming resident in Twitter followers), her Facebook accounts, her Facebook ads and her blog. Anderson also uses a program to simultaneously — and efficiently — update her Twitter and main Facebook account.

Both agree that consistency is key. In fact, Anderson routinely goes through her list of whom she’s following, and weeds out users who haven’t posted in 45 days or more.

Still, it’s important not to over saturate with constant updates. "It’s kind of like casting a line in fishing, hoping for a bite,” Brown notes, adding that if you choose your "bait” wisely, her experience has shown that you will find success. "You have to approach it like you’re talking to a friend, really, because people will see right through you otherwise.”

Anderson and Brown both report that the more you do with Twitter, the more comfortable you’ll become with the platform — and the more you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. It didn’t happen overnight, but with careful cultivation, Brown says, she has seen increased traffic to her store and sales. Many customers have emailed her with an opening line of "I noticed you on Twitter…”

Anderson says she has received media attention, including magazine profiles, as a direct result of being found on Twitter. She also notes that "ghostwriting” for Arazi has helped as a conversation starter with fellow dog enthusiasts.

As Brown quips, "You’ve got to take that little Twitter bird and step off the ledge!”
HEATHER GOOCH  (www.positiveyarn.com) is vice president of Gooch & Gooch LLC, an editorial marketing services firm.  She specializes in marketing for the needlework and craft industries. Heather writes this feature article exclusively for the Association of Artisan Businesses(www.artisanbusinesses.org), an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of theartisan industry.