Twitter 101: Tweeting in the wedding industry

Twitter - what is it and do I need it for my business
Many people who feel comfortable with other forms of social media are a little nervous about jumping into Twitter. After all, can you really trust your wedding business’ success to a social platform that can also tell you what Ashton Kutcher is eating for breakfast?

The answer is: Absolutely.

Although the appeal of Twitter isn’t immediately evident to many people, the rewards of Twitter are well worth the time and energy it takes to learn how to make it work for your wedding business.

Unlike Pinterest, which is simply a way to present and comment on information, Twitter is all about interaction. Think of it as the inverse of Facebook. With Facebook, you make connections mostly with people that you already know, Twitter is about connecting with new people that you don’t know and want to learn more about. Because of that, it is one of the best places to find new followers and customers for your wedding business.

It only takes a few moments to set up a new account on Twitter. You’ll simply need to input your same basic information that you have on accounts like Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. You will also have an opportunity to include a short bio and picture.

You should choose your picture to match your brand’s image. After all, whatever image or logo you use will becomes your face to the world.

Changing it around a lot can confuse your potential followers (and potential customers), who may be following dozens, if not hundreds of other brands and people. Picking an interesting, representative image such as a clear logo will ensure that your updates and tweets stand out from the rest and people immediately recognize your brand.

Your bio, biography or personal statement, should be short (less than 160 characters, not words), engaging and accurately describe what you do while keeping in mind potential search keywords that customers might be looking for.

Tech tutor Randy McKown has a short, but excellent article on how your bio should look. The important thing is not to get hooked on the hashtag bandwagon in your bio. You’ll make much better use of that tool when you tweet. Here, you want to look professional and not like a spammer. Having a good bio will get your vital information (including links to your homepage) across to potential customers.

Once you have set up a profile, you are ready to tweet! A tweet is a short, 140-character phrase or link that serves to share who you are and what you do. It may not sound like a lot, because it isn’t. Still, you can build up a great, loyal customer base by sharing freely and having some personality in the Twittersphere.

Tweeting good, fresh content and minimizing your own self-promotion is the best and most effective way to get new, loyal brand followers. Although it might seem counterproductive, avoiding more than 10% self-promotion and sharing information freely allows you to establish yourself as an expert who is interested in people, not sales. It also introduces you to people who are interested in learning new things and connecting with new people.

For example, if you are a bridal florist, you may share links to images of new styles of arranging flowers. Or, you may even share links to articles about how to arrange your own flowers. Never share links to your own website and products more than about 10% of the time. Even though that might seem counterintuitive, people will start following you when they realize you are happy to share information and will be much more likely to interact with you and reshare, or Retweet (RT), your links, articles and pictures.

But, you ask, what about those little hash-sign thingies? How do I use them and what do they do?

Those little pound-sign thingies are called hashtags (#), and they can be a great way to get new followers. The Twitter network often categorizes things that are popular by the hashtag that is associated with it. On your account, you will see a list of items that are “trending.” These are things that people are talking about that are really popular at the moment, and it changes from minute to minute. By using hashtags that are popular or that a lot of people follow regularly, you can get a new audience for your wedding business.

By researching keywords and hashtags that potential and past customers have used to find you, you can get your messages in front of more people. For example, if you make wedding cakes, you might search and find out how many people are using hashtags like #wedding #weddingfood or #weddingcake.

If there is a lot of traffic on those hashtags, you might consider including them at the end of a tweet so that people following those hashtags can learn more about your product or get to know you better.

A warning about hashtags, though: You can turn people off by using too many. The general rule is not to use more than 2 for every 140-character tweet that you share. Any more than that, and people feel you care more about your bottom line than actually interacting with them.

One of the major problems for wedding businesses is getting new followers. How do you get to those thousands of people who really might be interested in your product?

Although sending out good information is the best way to get followers, it’s not the only way.

Yes, some people do pay for followers, but that’s a pointless exercise that may make you look more popular than you are but does little to help boost your business’ presence online.

A great way to get followers is by following others. If you follow people who look like they might be interested in your services, the unstated “Twitter Law of Reciprocation” goes into action. Many people automatically follow anyone that follows them, but many use it as a way to connect with businesses and people they are truly interested in learning more about.

Once you have built up a few followers, the next thing you need to do is keep talking to them. Set a goal of directly interacting with, or commenting on, at least 3 followers or potential followers every day. Answer all questions on your account within 24 hours, if possible, and respond to Direct Messages (DMs) as quickly and thoroughly as you can. If you are following people who are not communicating with you, or sharing information you can share with others, don’t be afraid to unfollow them after a few weeks. You only have so many people you can follow. Make the best connections you can!

Twitter is an amazing way to really engage with potential customers, and really smart wedding businesses are able to use it to get great ideas about what their customer base wants and how to give it to them. You can find out what is working in your marketing plan through the use of customized URLs for each of your tweets in programs like TweetDeck and schedule tweets in advance through programs like Hootsuite.

You can get feedback on your products, or run contests through your Twitter account. You can even start Twitter games by coming up with funny hashtags that other people comment on.

Getting in touch with people is the goal, and once you do, you often have brand fanatics that will share your company’s message to all of their friends and followers.

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