Social networking has become a powerful tool for the small business owner so it’s no wonder so many are turning to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and more with their business in mind. Sites like Twitter give makers an affordable way to promote their products, to connect directly with their customers, and to identify trends in their chosen craft or field.
So what is Twitter, exactly? From wiki: “Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access.” In addition to the famous 140-character tweets, you can also send direct messages to other subscribers, follow trending topics, and much more.
Several of the EcoEtsy team members are active on Twitter, and are here to offer some insight into using this tool effectively.
A mix of business and pleasure
While it’s certainly a place to market your goods, you should be cautious about tweeting solely about your product. Repetitive posts about your newest items get stale, and many people, like Tammy from Tamdoll, have found the constant advertising a bit off-putting. “When I first joined Twitter & used it daily to chat with crafty folk in the mornings – I wasn’t thinking of business, just to be part of a live-crafting community. It was a great way for me to connect to like-minded people, to ask questions and get answers right away. I still use it to socialize a few times a week, but I’ve been turned off by Etsy sellers that solely use it to show new items listed and don’t have much ‘conversation’ going on.” Karen from EcoKaren points out that it “is ‘social media’ after all.” Think of Twitter as a tool that can help you gain insight from your peers, build a brand identity, an image, not just advertise your latest sale. You can do this by tweeting about your process, your local art scene, green living, your causes, etc. and by following and engaging in conversation with other like-minded users in addition to sharing your amazing products.
How do you find those like-minded users?
Gloria from Lolailo signed up for Twitter after hearing from others that it was a good place to promote her work. She said she struggled with the Twitter part of her business. With over 75 million users, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed. How do you connect with others? You can try doing a “find people” search and seek out people in your email address book, check out the Etsy Forums for a Twitter link exchange, get in on the EcoEtsy Twitter list. You can also do a broad search in “find people” for groups or organizations. A search for “Etsy” for example brings up a long list of people. Follow the people or groups that you find interesting and they may in turn, follow you back. Brandy from Good2LiveGreen points out the importance of using key words and terms designated by hash marks (Example: #TeamEcoEtsy or #Etsy) to help you get found in the Twitter search engine. If your work is focused on ec0-friendly goods or organic items, use those terms in your tweets. People searching for those keywords will be more likely to find you.
Keeping up with the conversation
Since the nature of Twitter is that it is constantly being updated, keeping up with information can be a challenge if you’re not checking it frequently. The feeling that you’ve got to be paying attention, and spending more time on the site can eat into your productivity in other areas. Minna from Karuski cautions that “you can become addicted to Twitter quite easily. It eats up a lot of your time if you’re not careful. You can start feeling you need to be there (on Twitter) all the time or you will soon be invisible.”
The other side of that constantly moving stream of information is an almost immediate response to your tweets. I find that when I tweet about a new listing in my shop, or share one of my photos directly through Flickr, I can see a change in item views by the time I flip from one screen to another. Brandy has had a similar experience. “Twitter has definitely helped me get exposure on the internet. It allows you to link your twitter account up to your personal website or blog to help you drive traffic to it. Everyday that I tweet I get tons of traffic. When I don’t tweet my traffic dies down.”
There are a number of tools and applications that make using Twitter more convenient. There are applications that can help you weed out inactive followers, suggest new followers, and manage how you interface with Twitter. Tammy found Tweetdeck to be helpful. She says “The more people I “met” online, I found TweetDeck to be invaluable. With it, I can sort people I follow into different groups – “crafty”, “non-crafty”, etc. and I can see Direct Messages and Mentions immediately. Another great feature of TweetDeck is the Filter feature – I can see who’s talking about yarn/crochet/sewing/knit, etc. at a glance by typing in my interest at the moment.” “I use LiveWriter to post my blog updates, and this automatically broadcasts my new blog posts to Twitter, which is handy. When I get immediate comments or emails, I can tell that someone had seen my tweet and clicked to my site, which is really nice.” Karen uses HootSuite to manage her tweets. “It allows me to tweet for ‘ecokaren’ and ‘ecoetsy’. It is also integrated with facebook so I can access ecokaren (profile and page), ecoetsy, and my personal facebook profile on it. I can schedule tweets, and it will also list new items automatically from the shop. The automated features works great in managing so many aspects of social media. It’s no extra work at all.” Brandy mentions HootSuite as well “You can post from Hootsuite to other social networks like Twitter (multiple accounts) FB Fan Pages, Myspace, etc. It also has a stats feature so you can keep track of the interactions on your tweets. And, a spot where you can have conversations with others and see who has retweeted, or mentioned you.”
- As any other social media site, use it with care and be kind to others. After all it all draws a picture of yourself and your business, too.
- Don’t mass follow every person on Etsy, you’ll come across as more genuine if you follow others that you’re truly interested in learning about.
- Do strike a balance between marketing and networking.
- Do make the most of your 140 characters. Brief but intriguing posts work well here.
- Don’t leave yourself open to unwanted spam. Block those blatant spammers.
- Do check out Twitter support for more information: http://help.twitter.com/portal
- Safety – Don’t click on sole links only or any links from someone you don’t know, they could contain phishing links or worse. Keep your password secure and change it frequently.
- Definitely do follow Team EcoEtsy on Twitter. http://twitter.com/EcoEtsy
Keeping up with all of the various social sites out there can be daunting. We as business owners need to choose how to effectively market ourselves, and Twitter is another tool in the toolbox. Some people have found Twitter highly successful, others have not. We’ve only touched on some of the features of Twitter here and we’d love to hear some feedback about how you’re using Twitter for your business. If you have insight to offer, please share in the comments.
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