Twitter for the Heritage Sector?

Could your business benefit from Twitter? This article looks at the social media phenomenon Twitter and uncovers the facts, misconceptions and opportunities for businesses working in the heritage sector.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social network that connects you with millions of people & businesses worldwide. It is particularly popular in the UK, with London having more twitterers than any other city in the world.

The concept is simple: In 140-characters or less, you communicate ‘what you are doing’, which is instantly viewed by the people who ‘follow’ your updates or ‘tweets’. You can also ‘follow’ the tweets of other users you choose to follow.

Common Misconceptions

It is commonly thought that Twitter is largely used by teenagers or people following the famous, notably Barack Obama or Stephen Fry. But this is only one part of the story. Twitter attracts a wide range of media, businesses, organisations and professionals.

“I’ll be on it all day and I haven’t got time for it”. The truth is, if you posted tweets all day people would get fed up with you very quickly! Put aside some time that suits your work schedule and be consistant, if you can only afford 15 mins a day thats OK. Like with many things, the more you put in the more you get out.

Who’s on Twitter?

The answer is surprising. Looking at the sector there are many heritage organisations like English heritage and the National Trust, professional bodies such as RICS, RIBA, along with thousands of heritage and conservation professionals.

Things you can do with twitter

  • Ask questions and receive answers
  • Discover helpful links and information
  • As an expert, offer your solutions to others problems
  • Post content & weblinks to drive traffic to your website or blog
  • Connect with colleagues & share your own thoughts, views, news etc.
  • Connect and/or monitor actual or potential clients, customers & competitors
  • Monitor what people are saying about your business, organisation or product(s)
  • Keep up to date with the latest news, events and on developments in your profession and field.

Getting started

Unless you are the one using twitter, it’s essential that you choose someone trustworthy who can regularly tweet and who will has the ability and integrity to represent your business. Sit down with them and discuss how much time will be spent, content of tweets and agree any no-go areas, before anything is posted live on the web!

a)    Sign up to Twitter.com

b)    Select a user friendly platform i.e Tweetdeck or Hootsuite 

c)     Find people and follow say 10 new accounts per day

d)    Set aside time to post regularly to start building a following & learn the protocol

10 Do’s and don’ts

Engaging the twitter community is about being accepted as genuine, caring, authentic and interesting – it’s not about being overly controversial, negative, rude or blatantly selling, which is a sure fire way of alienating yourself. Here are 10 helpful do’s and don’ts:

1.     Do be honest, courteous and reply to others posts

2.     Do decide how often you will tweet and be consistent

3.     Do take an interest in what others are talking about and comment on it

4.     Do show an avatar and bio – it builds trust when people can see who they’re engaging with

5.     Do choose someone trustworthy to post tweets – they will be representing your business!

6.     Don’t blatantly try to sell

7.     Don’t advertise for followers

8.     Don’t follow more people than you have followers

9.     Don’t witter on – no-one’s interested in verbal diarrhoea

10. Don’t moan, attack, slander or bitch about people- it’s the easiest way to lose respect

Applications

Most people use a third party application, the most popular being Tweetdeck and HootSuite which have the advantage of displaying tweets in a clear and manageable format. As an example let’s look at Tweetdeck which enables you to action a range of tasks at the touch of a button.

Tweet: Simply insert your 140(or less) characters including links and hit return

ReTweet: Sends a copy of one of your follower’s tweets for all of your followers to read

Reply: Respond to a particular tweet

Direct Message: Allows you to send a tweet to a user that others can’t view

Shortening URL’s

Twitter allows you 140 characters of text which can include links to anywhere on the web.

Often these URL’s are very long, so you will find the need to shorten them to allow you to post text to accompany them. There are numerous ways of doing this including tinyurl.com, bit.ly etc.

To get started, I suggest bit.ly as it is easy to use and enables you to track/get stats on your links. You can quickly compress URL’s on the site or simply allow tweetdeck to do it for you automatically (see above)

Finding Friends/Contacts to follow

In the beginning, the easiest way of finding people, is to look at who other people you know choose to follow. You can find people on the main twitter site and tweetdeck. There is also a wide range of directories and tools available to further assist you. They all work in slightly different ways, so try a few out.

In Conclusion

Can you afford to ignore Twitter? I hope this article has gone some way towards helping you better understand how Twitter works. For experts working in the Heritage sector, engaging with the twitter community presents many opportunities, not only to promote your own products and services, but to actively participate in discussing the issues in the sector that we all care so passionately about.

Do you want to learn more about Twitter? Why not try one of our Twitter for Business courses?

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