Well, at least we get told it's a good marketing tool. And quite frankly, it is. But only if it's used right!
The biggest mistake I see people make with Twitter is this: posting link after link after link, with all updates looking similar to each other. I know at first you can feel a little disconnected from people on Twitter (like being the new girl on the first day in a new job) but, think about it: why on earth would I follow you if all you do is post links?? And why would I click on those links?
It's spam. I get enough spam in my inbox - I'm not going to follow you for more of the stuff!
I've made a point not to follow people if all they do is post links. If you catch me on a good day, and you've got a very different handmade product that I really like, I might go all soft and follow you back. But probably not. However, if I can see you're a real person, who engages in conversation, then I'll certainly follow you back.
What I recommend on Twitter is this (and I don't always do it myself - but it's good practice and will make a difference):
- get involved in conversations. Before you tweet, see if you can reply to or retweet a couple of people.
- be nice, thoughtful and considerate, just as you would in real life.
- be funny
- tweet about your own products with links or photos only sparingly - definitely no more than about 1 in 3 tweets and probably even less than that. And try to give people a reason to click on those links.
- don't go asking celebs for retweets, especially for your business (except when they invite it, like Theo Paphitis and his #sbs Small Business Sunday tweets - look out for them on Sunday evening as being retweeted by Theo will bring you lots of followers and website hits)
- use real words and not text speak wherever possible (although I know how constrictive Twitter can be)
- to begin with, follow people you know (online or off), likeminded people with similar interests to you, small businesses and people you admire. Most will follow you back (as long as you don't just tweet links at them!). You'll eventually not need to look for followers - you'll start to gain followers on a daily basis as they find you first.
- don't automate! But if you feel you must, don't make it too obvious. Twitter is about connections not broadcasting.
- finally, don't get sucked into spending all day on Twitter!
If you've not yet caught the Twitter bug, let me tell you:
- I've bought from people on Twitter after following a link or being part of a conversation. I even had something designed especially for me after chatting on Twitter.
- People have bought from me as a direct result of seeing me on Twitter
- Customers have tweeted photos of their purchases from me, with recommendations
- Customers sometimes ask me questions on Twitter
- I've had work published in magazines after seeing a tweet from a magazine editor or journalist asking for ideas (this is possibly the only time that sprawling on the settee tweeting all day pays off)
P.S. The photos are of my chickens. I know they're not quite Twitter birds but they seemed vaguely appropriate - they tweet a bit, follow each other all the time and well, they're quite cute. Especially the last one, showing off her black beard.