A political view – Guest Blog by John Keenan

It was about a year ago that David Cameron, when asked by a DJ why he didn’t make more use of Twitter to spread his message, replied: “Too many twits might make a twat.”

Enough time has elapsed for the prime minister to reflect on his words and realise that the only one looking like a, er, twit was himself.

From Sarah Brown to Barack Obama, no politician now considers it infra dig to get their thoughts across in 140 characters or fewer. Tweeting Tories include @WilliamJHague, @EricPickles and @Jeremy_Hunt. And, yes, even, @Number10gov is in on the act. On the other side of the house, @johnprescott and  @DMiliband are two ideologues unafraid of the 21st century. Our local representatives in Brighton and Hove seem to have mixed feelings about social media: Caroline Lucas has embraced it with enthusiasm (@CarolineLucas);  Simon Kirby (@Kirby4KT) needs to update his feed more frequently; and Mike Weatherley is off the radar.

For those who still harbour scepticism over the efficacy of Tweeting, here is some compelling news. Last week the parents of a boy who was missing in Sussex put out a tweet asking people to look out for him. This was picked up and retweeted by their friends and from there it mushroomed. Someone who was involved in the effort told me that the estimated reach of the tweets was 10 million. Most of the standard reporting applications for Twitter gave up under the volume of tweet and retweets. There is a happy ending: the boy was found safe and well, due to the power of Twitter.

If this has convinced you that now is the time to dip your toes into the welcoming waters, here are five top tips to get you started:

1.   Know thyself: stick to topics that interest you and you’ll find that you are interesting

2.   Be specific: the limited character count is a boon to good writing

3.   Socialise: retweet and respond frequently. It’s called social media for a reason.

4.   Keep cool: as at any party, you might encounter the odd bore and nuisance. As you would in the real world, be polite and move on.

5.   Don’t mix business and pleasure. Work out whether you have come to play or get serious. And don’t pester people to read your blog. Even this one… oops.

@thejohnkeenan

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Guest Blog by Greg Dreyfus – How do I use Twitter?

The first time I heard of Twitter I rushed to judgment describing it as an RSS feed on speed. But it is far from. The concept of Twitter is so simplistic in nature that it can slot into existing processes or even create new ones that are more efficient by being effectively a mini-blogging platform, an RSS feed as well as an instant messaging platform all in one.

Personally, I use Twitter for various purposes. In my daily life, it is used to promote my creative outlets whether they are blogs, pictures or videos; it allows a quick broadcast of my work to the connected world. I also use Twitter as a virtual equivalent of Speakers’ Corner to voice my thoughts & opinions, except my voice is not force upon others but instead they have chosen to listen… or unfollow straight after. This is part of the beauty of this system. The organically grown network of followers you acquire on Twitter are interested in what you have to say and have the choice to stop following you.

Ever since I’ve let Twitter integrate into my life, I’ve had my finger on the pulse & found myself more connected with my local community & with what’s happening around me. I’ve made great connections with individuals & businesses that would have never happened in the tangible world.

Twitter has allowed me to easily expand the feed of information I receive in the fields I’m interested in and, depending on my followers, some I’m not which can be quite refreshing sometimes. I regularly re-tweet (to post again to non-twitter savvy) information if I think it is useful, informative and relevant to what I am about.

People are finding new uses for Twitter all the time – what will you use it for?

The links to my blogs are

as follows:-

Gregs  – Blog

Gregs Foodie – Blog

@GR3GD

The importance of time management – Lorelei Gibb

5 ESSENTIAL SOCIAL MEDIA TIME SAVING TIPS

All too often we hear that the reason a company is not engaging with social media is lack of time. Time is one of businesses most precious commodities’, and the thought of adding an online presence to an already time consuming marketing campaign can seem a minute too far!

There are enough reasons why you should be using social media as part of your marketing organic whole to fill an entire blog, but suffice to say, if you’re not part of the “conversation”, how do you know what others are saying about you and your brand?

So, if time is the reason holding you back, then here are our,

5 Time Saving Social Media Tips:


1.      Scheduled Posts:  Whilst twitter.com doesn’t give you this facility,various twitter compatible platforms allow you to schedule your posts. This enables you to either set aside a block of time once a week, daily, or what suits you best, to write all of your “tweets” which are then sentout automatically at a time that you have set.

2.   Email Update:  Having keyword alerts sent directly to your inbox enables you to keep an eye on whether your twitter account, or yourbrand has been mentioned. If you have set up all your posts to be automated this means that you can still interact and continue the conversation with fellow tweeters – this is, after all, the core of what twitter is about – engaging and interacting with people.

3.     Linking Accounts:  Instead of going into Twitter, and then Facebook, and then Linkedin etc, set your accounts up so that they are all linked; post one update and get it sent through to all the social networking sites that you are using.

4.     #in:  There are differing views as to the value and worth of posting updates on Linkedin. Some schools of thought feel you just shouldn’t, whereas some feel it’s a great idea. The benefit is that not everybody you are connected with on Linkedin may have a Twitter account, and so it’s a way of reaching out to them.

However, it is unlikely that you would want your entire Twitter stream posted on Linkedin, so once you’ve adapted your settings, Tweets which contain  “#in” will be the only one’s appearing on Linkedin.

5.       Tie It All In:  Using Twitter as a tool for pointing people to your blog see our blog on Twitter Etiquette at  is a fantastic idea! But why not tie your blog in with your newsletters, direct mail and any other marketing you’ve got going out? This way you are covering all of your current clients, and targeting people who have yet to find you.

Twitter may not have begun life as a platform for corporate marketing, but if used “correctly” it can be an extremely useful marketing tool.

Our company runs informal workshops on Twitter and other aspects of online marketing and computing, and we’re always happy to advise you further.

Wishing you happy Tweeting, @sirenf aka Lorelei Gibb, Dolphin Computer Upgrades Ltd.

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.

FIVE 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.

Helen