To be honest quantity isn’t everything when it comes to Twitter followers … for me the quality of people is actually more important. But obviously, having 3,000 followers is better than 33 (as these will be your mum and your mates only …).
I only got started with Twitter two years ago. I wasn’t overly keen to start with, and I had a couple of big preconceptions about people tweeting about their cats and what they have for breakfast.
But actually Twitter is now The Design Trust number one marketing (and especially communications!) tool. Because of Twitter I:
- have managed to raise The Design Trust’s profile and visibility dramatically – in the UK and internationally. With creative individuals, but also with other organisations who want to commission me for workshops, talks and consultancy, including universities, cultural organisations and studio spaces.
- get far more traffic to our website (with individual tweets about our marketing opportunities and business training listings, and our business blog posts). More than 75% of our web visitors come to us through Twitter!
- get people to sign up for our newsletter, membership or webinars.
- have ‘met’ many like minded people from across the world, with whom I am now in regular contact and looking into working together.
- get very clear feedback and comments on what we do and what really interests people.
- can be in very regular contact with lots of people across the world – at no cost!
Since November 2011 I have grown our Twitter account from 0 followers to 30,947 (in July 2014).
I didn’t use any tricks, didn’t buy any twitter lists, and never run a Twitter competition!
So, how did I do it?
Action 1: Start with a good account name – time: 1 min
I strongly suggest that you use your business name as your twitter name to raise the profile of your business. We were lucky that @TheDesignTrust was still available, although there are a couple of organisations with similar names.
You might like to open more than one twitter account to keep your personal and business life separate.
You need to make sure that your twitter name is easy to spell and to remember. Keep it short if you can.
I would avoid any numbers as that makes it look fairly unprofessional at best. Anything that looks remotely untrustworthy I won’t follow. Anything that looks interesting, relevant or fun I will be more inclined to follow.
Action 2: Select a great avatar or photo (ditch that egg!) – time: 3 min
Your avatar is the little picture that will show up each time you send a tweet or what you can see on your twitter profile. You automatically get ‘a colourful Easter egg’ as your standard picture, but it looks a bit unprofessional if you keep it like that – especially if you are a visual person!
It only takes 30 sec. to download something more suitable – just go to ‘settings’ and then ‘profile’.
Many tweeps use their logo for their picture (like The Design Trust does) which is a great way to build your visibility. Many people use portraits, or a portrait of them with a celebrity, or an image of their work. Illustrators can use their illustrated characters, which works very well.
Something different and colourful that stands out in a stream of twitter messages is essential to get more followers outside of your friends and family group.
You can change these images very easily, or update them (say for Christmas or a certain campaign). However, I have never changed our avatar, as I think people recognise us quicker because of this consistent image.
Action 3: Write a short profile – time: 3 min
People will see your short profile when they click on your avatar, so make sure it explains a little bit about you.
It can be formal, practical or funny, but make sure it reflects ‘your tone of voice’. A bit of info will make sure that your potential followers can check you out a little and see if you are relevant and trustworthy to follow (again: anything that looks remotely untrustworthy I won’t follow). You can also include here the city where you are from, or your website, which is very useful as people will check that out too.
Use some important key words in your biog too as they will show up when people search on Twitter for you. Include connections you might have, galleries you work with or events you will be showing at, and your twitter name will come up when they are looking for this term.
Action 4: Start following people to get followed! – ongoing
If you follow people then they are more likely to follow you too!
This is the first step of getting some followers. Go to ‘who to follow’ and click those that you want to follow, it is that easy! You can also check per category, such as art or design. The longer you have been using Twitter the better and more relevant these suggestions become.
You can approach any of your existing contacts by clicking ‘find friends’, which then can connect with your email account.
You can also search for specific businesses, organisations, journalists, retailers, agents, trade shows, craft fairs, other designers and makers you admire, … Just click through to their twitter profile and click ‘follow’. That’s it!
You can also go to the bottom of anybody’s profile and look at ‘similar to xxx’ to give you others like that.
Or if you are really cheeky you can go to your competitor’s profile, check their time line out and follow any of their clients or contacts …
So, who would be really good for you to follow? Who or what can help you? Keep you informed?
The list will undoubtedly grow when you start using twitter!
Once you start following people you will get their tweets, and your time line will start to fill up. You can follow anybody that you like that comes into your timeline.
(Tip: I don’t follow back everybody that follows me, which is partly a safety measure as many fake and spam accounts follow you in the hope that you start following them back, so be a bit careful to follow people you don’t know.)
If you have very few people following you then I would be fairly suspicious to follow you. So get started with friends, family, colleagues first, and then start following others too.
Action 5: Start tweeting – ongoing
The more (great stuff) you tweet the more likely it is that you get followers … it is as simple as that!
Once per week on average I spend about an hour to pre-load most of our tweets by using the free Twitter management tool called Buffer. This allows me to tweet spread out throughout the day, and to reach a wider international audience.
Then during the week I probably spend around 30-60min each day on twitter. On average we send between 5 – 30 tweets per day, most of them linking back to specific webpages on our site, and responding to queries, feedback and other comments.
Twitter is a bit calmer in the weekend, but that can sometimes be a good thing as your tweet will be more visible as it is less crowded, and it is more likely to be retweeted too.
Buffer also informs you how many people click on your links or ‘like’ your tweets and you will get a weekly report. This helped us to find out that Sunday morning was one of the best times to post tweets with links to longer posts.
You are what you tweet, so make sure that you tweet about things that are interesting, funny, helpful, add to a conversation, or are good one-liners or quotes. If you create a consistently good, professional twitter feed then people will find you and share your tweets.
Twitter really is a social medium, not a selling tool!
(Find out in this popular blog post why Twitter won’t get you any clients soon, but is still my favourite marketing tool here.)
The majority of tweets I sent are selected listings from our marketing opportunities and business training listings, as well as The Design Trust blog posts. Many designers and makers find this very useful information, and these tweets promote often other people or organisations too (whose account name I try to include too).
Don’t make it all about ‘me, me, me’!
Most of our tweets have a clickable website link back to our website, which then goes to the right page straight away (with further info about the training or opportunities) and drives traffic to our site. To make a link ‘clickable’ you just need to add ‘http://’ in front of the website address.
Twitter can become one of the most important tools to drive highly relevant traffic to your website, blog or online shop!
Action 6: Start retweeting – ongoing
You can simply ‘retweet’ and the original avatar will stay the same, or you can add ‘RT’ at the front of a tweet and send out again to include your own image.
If you retweet then it is likely that the other person will notice you, as they can see that in their ‘connect’ and ‘interactions’ time line, so it is more likely that they will follow you too.
It is more effective to actually add something to the original tweet such as ‘Good point’ or ‘Highly recommended’. This will start to create more of a conversation.
Want to have a great list of people to follow on Twitter? Check out The Design Trust top 99 design & craft journalists, media and bloggers to follow on Twitter. Enjoy!
Action 7: Add some colour! Images & short films – ongoing
As the saying goes … an image says more than a 1,000 words!
I love to see designer’s work in progress, see their stand at a fair, or their latest collection. I would strongly recommend to add images (or even short films or interviews!) to your tweets, as many people retweet them. Learn here 9 tip to photograph your work.
Especially as a creative use visuals to show what you do and what you are interested in. They also give a stronger visual connection with you, and therefore better and more followers.
Images can be of your work, but also about exhibitions or events you attend, or just things that you like or observe when you are walking about. They add a bit more visual interest to all those 140 characters!
(Tip: You might want to limit too personal kind of images, or those about your pets and kids …)
If you don’t have any images or films then start tweeting interesting videos directly from YouTube or Vimeo with your own comments.
Action 8: Follow some #hash tags – ongoing
Hash tags are different from the twitter handle @ and cover more themes then specific organisations, and are not owned by anybody.
You soon will see tweeps using general hash tags such as #typography, #jewellery #extremeknitting or #illustration, and if you check that hash tag out you can find many other people who share an interest in that topic, and who you can follow.
The more ‘niche’, the most likely it is you find like minded people!
Use hash tags in your own tweets, so that they will appear when people search for that topic, and so connect you with like-minded people.
Many events (think: trade shows, craft fairs, conferences, exhibitions) have got a hash tag or twitter handle, and these are a great way to find like-minded people to follow. And when you are at an event they can be a great way to find each other and actually meet up! (It has happened more than once that I was at a big event and through twitter realised somebody I knew was at the event before I had actually seen them!)
A great example of a hashtag to check regularly is #journorequest which is used by journalists looking for people to interview or products.
Other good ones to include or check out are #mumpreneurs #startups #handmade #buylocal
Hashtags are sometimes used in a humorous way to express feelings such as #notfeelingatmybesttoday.
But some tweeps include lots of #hashtags in their #tweets, #making them a bit #unreadable at #best! LOL!
Action 9: Use Follow Friday #FF creatively – ongoing
Follow Friday happens every Friday on Twitter where you invite people to follow people you like. You just use the hash tag #FF and then add a couple of @ twitter handles to your message.
That’s how many people do it …
But actually a far more interesting, effective and creative way of doing it is by selecting one or a couple of twitter names and say why you recommend them.
And #FF is also a great tool to say publicly ‘thank you’ to some people.
Action 10: Start or follow a campaign! – ongoing
The Design Trust most retweeted tweets have all been for a campaign! So join in as the power of social media is great.
For example London jewellers Tatty Devine had been copied by a major high street retailer, and wrote about this in a blog that they tweeted about. We asked other designers to spread the message, and they did in their masses! Within a day Tatty Devine was on the BBC Breakfast News talking about this IP infringement.
I love what artist and designer @SarahHamiltonPS has done with starting #TALKT which is a promotional campaign by creatives for creatives that takes place every Tuesday to find each other on Twitter and to ‘like’ each other’s Facebook pages. Just look for #TALKT and follow other creatives on a Tuesday.
We love what @DesignMuseum does on Sunday’s with #fontsunday – the weekly font theme will be announced and people tweet pictures around that theme. It is a great way to share and inspire, and to meet other font and design addicts from across the world! Plus good ones will be retweeted by the Design Museum – giving you great exposure.
Action 11: Join a design twitter chat – ongoing
Twitter chats are Q&A sessions via twitter. Very often they happen at a specific time around a specific topic, with a facilitator and or an expert answering questions. Everybody can join in: all you need to do is use the right hash tag at the right time in your tweets. You can ask questions or respond to questions, just make sure you use the hashtag each time.
Some of the bigger twitter chats are hard to follow as there are so many conversations happening at once, and it is easy to get lost!
I love some of these smaller ones as you really get to know other people and can help others:
- #omhg is organised by Jessika Hepburn @ohmyhandmade from the US on Thursdays at 6pm (UK time) and covers a wide business and personal range of topics for makers and crafters.
- #IntDesignerChat on Tuesday evenings which is run from the US, but a really active one for interior designers and designers of interior products who want to connect with American designers or interior bloggers.
- #blogtacular takes place on Wednesdays from 9pm (UK time) for new bloggers.
Action 12: Ask a question – ongoing
A great way to get in touch with other people, to build your community and to get a quick answer is to ask a question. You might even like to use the hashtag #asktwitter.
I asked creatives about the story behind their business name for a blog post I was working on, and I got more than 50 tweets in 2 days on the topic! A great way to get answers and inspiration, to engage our audience, and to get lots of interest in the blog post before it was even started.
We very often answer questions if we know the answer, or RT for others to share.
Twitter is really great to get a quick answer, but also to reach out to others and help them. If you are a jeweller designing engagement or wedding jewellery and you search regularly for questions on twitter for that then you can answer and connect with potential clients immediately. The same is valid for other services such as web design, product photography or specific niche products.
Action 13: Add a twitter button to your website – 15 min
Make sure that you add a twitter button on your home page, but ideally also for each blog post if you are a blogger.
I got this installed by a web developer, and the ‘twitter’ and ‘like’ button now appears automatically with each blog post. That has dramatically increased the likelihood of people retweeting content, but also adds ‘social proof’ as people can see how many other people retweeted or liked the same content.
And 6 tips to lose your followers again!
You carefully build your profile and visibility on twitter, but it doesn’t take too much to seriously damage your reputation … so these are some great ways to lose your followers:
Tip 1: Tweet while drunk
Just don’t do it, you will have a double hangover the day after.
Tip 2: Buy from me now now now!
Twitter isn’t about you, it is about building links and a community with others. Yes, of course you can promote yourself, but keep it to a minimum. People don’t like to be sold to!
You will sell yourself much better by being helpful to others, by finding like minded people in the world, by letting others know what you are about by tweeting about topics that you are interested.
Think about why people should be at all bothered about visiting your website or online shop, or why they should buy from you ultimately.
Think about the potential benefits or solutions that your service or product will offer them, and then create a more interesting tweet then ‘buy my beautiful jewellery now now now’.
Tip 3: Tweet too much
People don’t like to be spammed. If you tweet too much useless info they will run for the ‘unfollow’ button quickly!
Yes, it is difficult to say what is ‘too much’.
Use a free tool such as Buffer to spread your tweets across the day and even tweet for you when you are on holiday.
Tip 4: Include too much personal info
I have seen people tweeting info that is just too personal or gives far too much info (and I cringe on their behalf).
Feel free to keep your friends posted about your life, but make sure you realise that twitter is a public conversation, not a private one!
I have seen people tweeting about trade shows that weren’t well attended, and shared very confidential info about their takings.
Or people tweet about negotiations or contracts before they are signed. Watch out! Your competitors and other trade clients can see that too …
Some tweeps moan an awful lot (in a non-funny kind of way …) or exchange far too much gossip.
Realise that anybody can actually read your tweets …
I really like a personal touch (as that makes you a human being!) but constant moaning about your husband or teenage kids, being completely in love, your breast feeding problems, or all the details of your divorce make me click the ‘unfollow’ button pretty swiftly. One tweeter even shared a picture of their children’s potty content to get feedback … mmmmm.
Stay on the safe side and be professional.
Somebody wise told me that ‘if you don’t want your grandmother to read it, that you probably shouldn’t share it on social media’.
I think that’s pretty solid advice. Which is why I don’t swear on Twitter …
Tip 5: Get angry or start a slamming match
Writing can sometimes be easily misinterpreted as it misses the vital tone of voice you get in verbal communication. Just like emails can cause major upsets, tweets can do a lot of damage through misinterpretation.
Also, if you are angry with a buyer or journalist for not responding to your emails or a trade show hasn’t gone particularly well, then don’t venture your anger on twitter! It won’t get you anywhere, they might actually see it, but also other buyers – it just isn’t professional to share it on a public platform.
Tip 6: Get upset if people unfollow you
There are special software programmes where you can find out who actually unfollows you. Sometimes I see people getting really upset as a friend has just unfollowed them.
I personally think that life is too short to keep track of things like this, and by the way it is often twitter software who is unfollowing, not the person themselves! I very often notice that I am not following somebody anymore while I am absolute sure that in the past I did.
Blame the twitter gremlins and don’t spoil your friendship because of it!
Tip 7: Become a boring twitter addict
Twitter can be a bit addictive …
You want to constantly know ‘what’s going on’ and you might get the feeling that ‘you don’t want to lose out’ if you aren’t tweeting every day.
You might get jittery if you don’t get more followers each day or lots of RT’s on your funny one liners …
You might spend many hours on twitter (I do!) and it is addictive to check out many times a day your statistics.
Your mood and confidence might even become depend on how well you do on Twitter …
And Twitter is great for procrastination too … so that you don’t have to do the ‘real’ work of running your design or craft business!
Make sure you don’t waste your time and become a boring twitter addict!
Create specific goals for twitter and marketing and general, and make sure that you communicate with your audience both online and offline! Check out Hilary Pullen’s guest post on how to stop wasting time on twitter here.
Tip 8: Take it too personal
If you stick your head out you will get feedback.
And some of this isn’t particularly nice.
I get lovely comments regularly, but sometimes there are some really harsh, personal attacks. You need to have a pretty thick skin on twitter sometimes to keep going, to stay friendly, to be helpful and reach out.
I will be honest that I have thought a couple of times to packing it all in due to severe attacks, but then I get some great info or news and just send out another tweet!
Want to learn more about social media for your creative business?
Twitter is only the start! There are so many social media tools now … Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, … If you want to learn more about how to use these social media tools effectively for your creative business, then check out the new book by social media expert Hilary Pullen: Online Marketing for Your Craft Business: How to get your handmade products discovered, shared and sold on the internet
In this book she explains what each social media is and can be used for best, how to leverage them and make them work together (in combination with your newsletter and blogs), and how to create a strategy and set goals for them so you stop wasting your time on social media.