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How to use twitter for business – By Metrodeco

One of my favourite social media tools I use is called Yoono

a, I particularly like it because I can keep it as a live stream while on the internet and integrate all my social media platforms.

b, because I don’t have to click on any of the image links if I hold my mouse over a link the picture instantly comes up on my screen rather than having to click on the link.

A couple days ago I noticed a link circulating on twitter from Metrodeco so I took a look. The following day I was at a networking event and instantly recognised Helen from the video clip. So off I went the next day to check out Metrodeco and what a wonderful surprise I had. Delicious home-made cakes and a wonderful variety of teas.

I was inspired by Metrodeco’s video clip and how they use social media to promote their business so I asked Helen to write a guest blog on her twitter tips for business.


Sometimes strangers wander into Metrodeco tea shop and smile a smile of recognition at whomever is serving. “Oh sorry,” they usually say, remembering themselves. “You don’t know me but I know you from Twitter”.

There are probably many more who come for lunch or afternoon tea because they’ve discovered us on Twitter and don’t tell us so.

In fact, we’re sure a significant number of our customers, certainly those from Brighton, are enticed by our social media engagement – here’s a good example

We are excited newbies on Foursquare as we blogged earlier this week, we’re proud of our YouTube content and we have a Facebook profile – but most of our conversations with customers and potential customers happen on Twitter (follow us here!). 

I believe that, by now, most of us understand the basics of how to grow followers and engage in meaningful conversations: tweet about your passions, be conversational, search for mentions and respond to them, don’t spam, pass on interesting tweets and blogs, be generous, don’t be too self-promoting …..etc, etc.

These are excellent general tips and many more can be found simply by searching Google.

So I want to add to this body of advice by sharing five practical applications of these tips that have worked for us and would work for any small to medium-sized business. So please feel free to improve on – or steal! – our ideas.

  1. Involve your customers in your business – the quotation competition! Bored with our pavement chalk board, which seemed to have the same old messages about our menu on it every day, we turned to our followers to help us sex it up a little. We tweeted a picture of our empty A-board and invited people to suggest content, offering a free pot of fine loose-leaf tea for the best idea. Within minutes, our challenge had been retweeted multiple times. Within an hour, a dozen suggestions had come in for tea-related slogans and quotes and we picked a winner, announcing it on Twitter with a new ‘Twitpic’ of the board (pictured above). Okay, it wasn’t an idea that turned around our business and the reward wasn’t massive but it was fun. It raised awareness of our brand and I think it put out a strong message that we were the sort of business that valued the ideas of our customers. We’ve repeated it several times, each time adding 10 or 20 new followers and, more importantly, 2 or 3 new customers.
  2. Eavesdrop! Sounds immoral doesn’t it? But it’s not. Twitter conversations are held in public because tweeters don’t mind strangers joining in. In fact, the vast majority positively encourage it. So, while the old (very limited) way was to Google your name (we’ve all done that, right?), the new (far more sophisticated) way is to search through Twitter conversations using search.twitter.com. Not only can you track conversations about your brand here but you can look for general mentions of the industry you’re in. And here’s the best bit: using the advance search tool, you can filter the results to your own area. We looked for mentions of ‘tea’ in Brighton and discovered @mippy and @liquidindian discussing whether there was anywhere in the city that served a nice cream tea – so we dropped in on the conversation and said hello. A warning: if you’re going to do this, don’t be too pushy and/or spammy – be polite and perhaps even make a light-hearted apology for eavesdropping to break the ice. But don’t be too apologetic – you’re helping.
  3. Make a good first impression with a relevant Twitter background. Don’t settle for the default background you get when you sign up; your Twitter background is as important as your shop window because it helps convey your brand and a positive first impression. You can choose from several that Twitter offer but they’re, well, really boring and they don’t give you the opportunity to display important contact info or a blurb about your business. You could be ambitious and try to design your own. This is what we’ve done but we’re not designers and, as you’ll see, we haven’t quite mastered this technique. So if you’re as unskilled as us, why not download this free tool from Brighton-based social media gurus Silicon Beach Training and get started?
  4. Post pictures. A picture can really re-enforce your brand. At Metrodeco, we’re all about quality, homemade, local food and this photo of our cakes was viewed 153 times (and counting). Another, of some seagulls by the shop has been viewed 227 times at the time of writing.
  5. Use Twitter to listen. In the rush to stand out from the crowd, the temptation with any form of business communication is to broadcast. “Look at me – aren’t I brilliant?” Yes you are brilliant but your customers are even brilliant-er (is that a word?) and it is with them that the best ideas lie. Tweets are referred to as ‘micro-blogs’ because they have almost all the characteristics of traditional blogs and blogs are most effective when used as listening tools. We used Twitter to help hone our new lunch menu and asked our followers to comment and make suggestions for improvements before we finalised it. We received helpful advice on prices, ingredients and presentation and – even better – several people suggested we serve quality iced teas for summer, an idea we hadn’t even thought of but that we’re now implementing.

I’ll leave you with a recommendation for further reading: Joel Comm’s ‘Twitter Power’ (read most of it here for free on Google Books). Apart from telling you EVERYTHING you need to know about Twitter, it really drills into the benefits for businesses, like brand-building, selling a product or driving traffic to a website.

If you found this blog useful, you might also like Metreodeco’s blog about the successful social media tactics being used by Brighton’s tea and coffee shops.



6 Responses

  1. Some really good, sound advice here – I must drop by for tea soon!

  2. Thanks Lorelei. Please do. We’re open seven days a week 🙂

  3. Hi Lorelei

    This is good stuff. Do you think Twitter is most relevant for marketing retail oulets, or can you rules by applied to, say, publishing or event organising?

    Best wishes,

  4. Hi John,

    Twitter can be used to build momentum and encourage people to coalesce around and develop any idea, not just any product.

    It is simply about putting interesting ideas out there and getting people to interact with that idea and spread it on. It will only fail if the idea itself is not interesting.

    With your example about an event, for example, you could create a Twitter account with the name of the event – then everything you do would promote the event if you do it well, starting with following people.

    You could follow this up with a drip-drip of news about, say, speakers. Use the search, as I suggested to find out who on Twitter might be interested in your event.

    Twitter is at its best when messages spread between people who trust each other’s opinion, rather than in one direction from a big corporation. So don’t be shy to ask people to tweet about your event if they’re interested in it. You could create a hashtag for the event and ask people to post tweets about it during the event, which you could broadcast on a big screen.

    There are hundreds of ideas and this is turning into a blog in itself 🙂 so I’ll leave you with some recommended reading. This http://www.raspberryfrog.co.uk/resources/articles/how-promote-event-using-social-media blog has some really useful tips and case studies on using social media generally to promote events.

    These ideas only need a little adaptation to promote other things, like publishing.


  5. Hi John,

    Helen’s given you some very sound advice I see. May I just add that Twitter is a form of “social networking” and is therefore just the online form of “real time” networking. It is about engagement, interaction, referals, making contacts. If you already have a Twitter account why not log into Twello – Twitter’s version of the Yellow Pages – where you will get more of an idea of the plethora of businesses embracing this platform to engage their potential clients.
    I wish you success in your venture and your Tweeting journey!

  6. […] time we wrote about how we’ve used Twitter to grow customers on the Brighton Twitter Social Meet-up blog managed by Wendy […]

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