Welcome to the second post in the new confessions of a design geek column, Biz Tips. Each week, I’ll be asking a guest contributor to share their top ten tips for independent design businesses.
Justyna Sowa is a social media consultant specialising in growing design, lifestyle and interiors businesses through the professional use of social media platforms, so who better to share her top ten twitter tips?
Justyna’s services include consultancy, training and workshops as well as full social media management and creative campaigns. Working with design businesses from industry trade events and online magazines to high-end designers and online directories, Justyna’s mission is to accelerate the growth of design industry as a whole through new social technologies.
Over to Justyna…
1. Get your brand right.
As your Twitter account is a social extension of your brand, make sure its look matches the branding of your business – from avatars to headers, short biogs and Twitter backgrounds, use your branding assets to create a recognisable and coherent look.
2. Find your voice.
In your first month on Twitter, experiment with the content you create, the mixture of personal and business tweets and your style of writing. In a couple of weeks you will find your own Twitter tone of voice – the manner in which you communicate through this social media channel. While some people are very comfortable with tweeting about their personal life and latest delicacies they have tasted, you might prefer to discuss only the professional topics. Always stick to what you feel most comfortable with, because from now you’ll be tweeting every day.
3. Connect to your community.
Twitter is here for you to share your passion and connect your business and its designs with a supportive community of like-minded professionals. Make sure you are connected to this community. Find everyone you know on Twitter – from peers and people you collaborate with, to useful websites, industry organisations and events. These people will make your Twitter days fun, inspirational and beneficial to your business growth.
4. Provide value.
Why would people follow you on Twitter? Think about the areas in which you are a specialist, you have something unique to offer, or you have a specific view of things and use this content to the fullest. People will follow you and interact with you when they know that there are great ideas or you are the first one to post pictures of new exciting designs, or you know everything about contemporary ceramics. Become an expert in your field and keep tweeting about everything interesting around this topic. That’s how you create value and attract loyal audiences.
5. Be conversational.
Twitter is all about two-way communications, just like every human relationship – it’s 50:50 between how much you give and how much you get back. Once you have shared your news, devote rest of your time to talking to people – see what everyone is up to, what great projects they’re working on, what are the latest industry news and trends. With your closest connections, see how their week is going, and simply have a chat. With a large volume of content on Twitter it is the individual conversations that make you stand out and make your relationships grow.
6. Be polite.
Comparing Twitter interactions to a cocktail party is a great way of describing Twitter etiquette: it’s no different to real life situations. Always respond to tweets mentioning you, be helpful, thank people for positive feedback and re-tweets, take part in #followfriday [or #FF where every Friday you recommend other people your followers should follow] and recommend valuable Twitter accounts. And never discuss others on Twitter – every tweet you send is in a public domain, so make sure you use the language and tone which you will be happy with your granny to see – it’s all about manners.
7. Use hashtags and Twitter handles.
Using Twitter handle such as @j_sowa is the way of mentioning and personally addressing a Twitter user. If you’re just about to tweet about a brilliant new product you spotted online or an exhibition you’ve attended, look them up on Twitter first – if they’re there, use their Twitter handle in your tweet – this way they’ll get a notification that you have mentioned them! And hashtags? This is the way of finding topical conversations coming from various Twitter users. For example, when looking up hashtag #design, you will see all the Twitter conversations taking place at the moment around the subject of design. Using hashtags is a great way of discovering new connections and topical conversations.
8. Don’t focus on selling.
Hard-selling on Twitter is an interesting topic because you need to find the right balance. If majority of your tweets are direct sales messages, your Twitter account won’t get far. What I find a great solution is to, with selling your product in mind, create captivating and useful Twitter content, which indirectly supports your sales: talk about your product photo-shoots, materials and techniques you are using, exhibitions you’re taking part in, take pictures of the products being made, share your inspirations. And keep the hard-sell messages for when your products just become available to purchase, are on sale, have launched in particular shops, there are new products in stock. First give your followers a reason to fall in love with your products, and then direct them to the place where they can make their dreams come true!
9. Organise your time.
With the hundreds of users you will follow and the thousands of useful tweets posted every day it is easy to spend hours on Twitter flicking through recent content, but you need to use your time on Twitter effectively. Set up your account on a Twitter management platform such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to monitor the most relevant content on one single dashboard and organise your connections into lists e.g. collaborations, industry news, friends, inspirations. This way when you log into Twitter with a specific purpose you’ll know where to find the relevant content. And use your ‘down-time’ wisely: catch up with the news from Twitter on your mobile during your commute, lunchtime or even when you’re queuing in the post office.
10. Be consistent.
There’s nothing worse than a busy Twitter account going quiet for weeks only to come back with new promotional tweets and hard-sell messages. Before you commit to Twitter, make sure that you understand the daily commitment to the community you’ll start gathering around your account. Make sure that every day you share you new tweets or simply interact with your connections. The value of your Twitter account is not based on instant incentives but on the relationships you build over time. And once you follow the above top tips and actively grow your Twitter community across a longer period of time, there’ll be a whole array of perks coming your way – from meeting new people and starting new collaborations, to actually increasing website traffic to your website and driving product sales.