I remember (back in the day) when my best mate, who works for a multi-national IT company, said to me “get involved with this, it’s the next big thing”. Being a bit of geek, although this has now increased as time has gone on, I took a look. I was pretty au fait with Facebook so I couldn’t quite see the point of Twitter. At the time it appeared to be like Facebook updates, but limited to 140 characters. Why? What was the point in restricting your users to what they could broadcast? Fast forward 6½ years and I currently have 4 or 5 accounts, most of which are dormant as there are only so many hours in the day, and I’m quite an advocate.
Now I’d like to point out at the start of this that I’m no internet guru, who is going to offer you a fail safe plan to you & your business utilising the social media sites to drive revenue. What I will do is show you how to get a better reach on Twitter & use it more efficiently, I’ll also include a glossary at the foot of the post as well.
OK, first up, be imaginative with your username. What does your pub, restaurant or hotel have that few others do? This is where most business accounts fall down, they aren’t personable. Make your username applicable to you, maybe the hotel cat, the building’s ghost or gargoyle & tweet from their perspective. The reason most eateries languish in the 200-500 followers bracket is because they tweet the same old stuff –
This is our special offer today….
The soup of the day is….
If customers want a decent rate or offer they’ll use the internet, and if they want to know what the soup of the day is, they’ll ask a member of the front of house staff. Humour is more likely to get you retweets (RT) & followers than any offer.
Top tip: don’t use the Twitter.com interface after you’ve initially set up your account. Use a client (like Outlook or Thunderbird are used for email), I personally use Hootsuite.com, for many reasons, but personal preferences will be high on the list. If you’re going to use it for hours at a time promoting your workplace or business you’ve got to feel comfortable with it. The other reason I use Hootsuite is that I can post to: Twitter; Facebook; Google +; LinkedIn and a Facebook Fan page all in one go, it also links up nicely to Mailchimp.com, who handle the subscribers email for me.
I sometimes read hotel & restaurant timelines and profiles; I’ve occasionally spoken to Sales & Marketing managers for properties about social media and their thinking just staggers me. Chefhermes.com currently has in excess of 4300 followers on Twitter & with a global reach into over 85 countries; I value the traffic social media has brought me. So why on earth would you aim to only have followers within a 10miles radius of your business? Surely the whole point of using the internet to promote & market yourself, is to try & use the global reach it has, and yet some places actually strive for this 10 mile radius theory. It is hardly going to spread the word about your product.
Now you’ve chosen a username, set up your client (Hootsuite etc), so how many do you follow & who? This is a key decision, firstly there are two very distinct trains of thought. There is a general rule of thumb, that many people will follow back should you start to follow them. The classic case in point is the blogger @TheCurryGuy. He has over 36,000 followers, which is impressive. But put that into the context of the 40,000 people he’s following, I follow just over 900 people & I often think I might have missed something interesting to retweet to my followers. So how does he manage it? The simple answer is he probably uses ‘lists’ to create a selective timeline of people he really wants to follow & finds their tweets compelling reading. Personally I find this approach somewhat shallow, ultimately his reach on Twitter may appear further than mine as he has 9 times as many followers but his Klout (see glossary at the foot of the post) score is about the same at 59/60 out of 100.
And who to follow? By all means follow local papers & organisations, as you all have a vested interest in bringing in tourism to your area. But you need to think bigger than that, follow the major food critics & writers, interact with them & engage in debate no matter how serious or light hearted it is – they won’t bite. Personal favourites are: @Marinaoloughlin (The Guardian); @JayRayner1 (The Observer); @TimHayward (Fire & Knives amongst others) and@MillyMollyManda (The Caterer), & every year I do a top ten most followed list of restaurant critics for the UK, see here for 2012’s. Then there are the numerous bloggers who are always worth chatting to: @ChrisPople ; @AlexWatts ; @Nonsensepipe ; @FoodUrchin and @HRWright to name a few. As time goes by you’ll find people who you warm to & enjoy their tweeting. The key to gaining more followers is to be engaging, if somebody ‘mentions’ me in a tweet, I make the point of answering or replying to them. If you’re really struggling who to follow, see what other people are doing. Good examples are: Sue Williams @TheClivedenGM ; The GM at @CliffHouseHotel ; Gidleigh Park @GidleighHotel and Phillip Newman-Hall, GM at Le Manoir Aux Quat Saison @LeManoir.
How to use Twitter or etiquette. Now I know some of you reading this will already probably have snorted in derision at me using the ‘E’ word, as let’s face it, at times I can be known for my ‘acidic’ tone as the Evening Standard magazine put it. But there are things to remember. Unless it is your own account, you have to remember to tweet with caution & care, after all it’s your employers reputation on the line. Trolling at its worse is horrific & now punishable with a jail sentence, but you may occasionally find a person that disagrees with you, & that’s fine. Walk away, as the saying goes in social media circles:
Don’t feed the troll
I’m not saying that every person that disagrees with you is a troll, but there may be occasions where it could be unpleasant. Another thing to bear in mind is the use of the phrase ‘Check out‘. It’s for amateurs, a checkout is somewhere to pay for your groceries. Be imaginative if you want people to click your links, but always inform them what it is. So for example, this is how I tweet a new blog post:
*NEW BLOG POST | Chefhermes : 2012 in review – Highlights & a big thanks to all the readers:ow.ly/gEOgt
Over the past 12 months every man & their dog on TV and radio has been using HashTags or #. If you watch particularly Channel 4 programmes for about 7pm onwards you’ll see them quite alot. The idea is that you Tweet and include a HashTag, Twitter then lumps all of the corresponding HashTags together into a stream. For example, I’m a Liverpool FC fan, so in Hootsuite I have a column for a #LFC stream. I can see any tweets with #LFC in them from every user on Twitter, all 500million of them. Anybody can create a HashTag it isn’t limited. So for example if you’re looking for kitchen staff you could tweet:
Looking for a new Head Chef, £35k, #Cotswolds #chefs #Michelin #Hiring please RT
The use of the HashTags increases your reach, coupled with the ‘please RT’ will also help as people that are your followers will retweet to their followers. On Fridays you may see #FF, this is other users recommending to their followers a potential new user. It’s nowhere near as prevalent as it used to be, but it’s still good to get them & can help you raise your profile.
Coupled with other social media like Instagram (ironically now owned by Twitter’s main competitor Facebook), Twitter is a free & powerful tool in promoting your business. But as my Dad says about computers:
It’s only as good as the person using it.
- @ is always the prefix to any users name on Twitter. Using it ensures the other user can see that you’re either talking about them or to them (see Mentions).
- HashTag is a way of increasing your reach to new followers who may be looking for specfic tweets or themes. Ie : #Michelin #Foodporn #Chefs #Recipes etc
- Klout is a website which measures your influence on the social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google + etc) & how much people click your links & interact with you. If you use Hootsuite & click somebodies profile, it’ll show their Klout scoring.
- Mentions is where another user uses your user name, in my case @Chefhermes in a tweet. Generally speaking if the mention is at the start of the tweet they’re talking directly to you. If not, then it is usually about you.
- MT or modified tweet. This really has only just started to appear on Twitter & isn’t used very often. Generally used in a conversation where a RT may have happened, but for example there was a typo in the original tweet. This is where MT would be used.
- RT or ReTweet is to repeat to your followers who might not necessarily follow the original tweeter.
- Trolls or Trolling Wikipedia describes as such ” While the word troll and its associated verb trolling are associated with Internet discourse, media attention in recent years has made such labels subjective, with trolling describing intentionally provocative actions and harassment outside of an online context.”
- Twitter or Twitter.com to give its proper name, is a micro-blogging website where tweets are 140 characters or less. Started in March 2006, I’ve been with the site with various accounts since August that year. Now has in excess of 500million active users.