I’m probably going to start transitioning these type of articles to a separate website (I just purchased KrisChislett.com a couple of days ago), but for now I am happy to host them here. Please note that I could have easily turned this article into a book on this subject, but (as always) I wanted to keep it short and to the point.
If you have any questions about any of the information in this article, please feel free to either send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet me at twitter.com/krischislett, or just leave a comment under this post.
For the sake of this article I am going to strongly advise you that if you are venturing into the “Twitterverse” you use Tweetdeck. There are other tools out there, and I’ve tried the main ones, but nothing compares to Tweetdeck.
Just as a heads-up, in keeping this article along the wine theme, the content is skewed toward wineries specifically, but it is very easy to translate it to be used for other businesses.
Last note before I start the article: I have to confess, I used to be one of those “why would I need to Tweet that I am at home / Starbucks / the bathroom etc…” kind-of-people. It took me quite a while to really get on board with Twitter. I think I have a lot to say, it’s just that I generally don’t just speak for the sake of speaking. If anything I’m more of a listener than a speaker, which as it turns out is EXACTLY what Twitter is supposed to be used for (at least as it relate to businesses)!
The first question you should ask yourself, is what you are hoping to gain out of being on Twitter.
Are you looking to sell wine?
Connect with your consumers?
Get word of your winery out there?
Maybe it’s a combination of multiple things, either way it’s probably best if you start with a clear understanding of what you are looking to achieve. Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself, if you are looking to sell your product that’s totally fine! You just be aware that it isn’t going to happen overnight!
I think that a large percentage of businesses simply sign up to Twitter on the sole basis that everyone else is doing it. This isn’t exactly the best reason, and I would think that a large number of these Twitter accounts also end up closing after a short-period of time.
As you take the first steps to setup your account, make your Twitter profile facilitates your objective, i.e. if you’re looking to drive traffic to your website, make sure your web address is easy to find. Or if you are looking to drive business to you physical address (tasting room), make sure your address is displayed clearly, or maybe a direct link to your websites’ contact page along with a link to a Google Map.
There is no right or wrong answer to what is the appropriate number of times a day to tweet. I recently read one article which recommended “at least a few times a week”. A few times a week is probably fine to tweet…if you’re a celebrity; but chances are you are not.
When you first start getting into the whole Twitter thing it’s very overwhelming! You are going to send out a few Tweets, nobody is going to care, and like most, your Tweets will get less frequent and you will probably quit. Right from the very start, my advice is to set some kind of goal for yourself; something along the lines of:
Every day for the next 2 months I am going to spend a minimum of 30 minutes up-to a maximum of 1 hour on Twitter (Tweetdeck). Each day I will start conversations with 10 random people, RT 3 people (we will get to what this means shortly), send out 2 Tweets and whilst all this is going on, I’ll simultaneously track mention of my brand and/or topics that are important to me.
I would say the above paragraph is a good starting-point. If you want a good shot at what you set out to achieve in point 10, the above paragraph needs to be the minimum you are doing.
However, if you’re looking at that paragraph and thinking, “Wow! I really don’t have that amount of time in day to devote to Twitter!” you should probably either quit now, or look at hiring someone else handle your Twitter account
When picking a Twitter name, just keep it simple. People are going to be searching for the name of your winery/business, not “NapaWineGod123”, or words to that effect.
Remember, your Twitter name can always be changed later if needs be, but it’s best to try and avoid this if at all possible. Saying that, I’ve done it once, and it’s not the end of the world; but it may confuse your followers a little.
When you first get setup on Twitter, your profile photo will automatically be set as an egg (see photo on left): make sure you change that as soon as possible! A lot of spam accounts seem to stick with the default egg, I’m guessing because they get quickly shut-down, and adjusting multiple profiles takes time.
As far as profile images go, there are a few different schools of thought for wineries specifically: some choose to go with a business logo, and some choose a photo of the winery.
I personally use a simple headshot, I like to think that it gives a more personal impression, and people can actually see who they are talking to.
One thing I would say, and I know this is kind of a strange point to mention, but if you’re female and thinking about using a profile image of yourself, be very conscious of how it looks. It is of course completely up to you, but my advice would be to keep it as conservative as possible.
My reasoning behind this is that a large number of spam accounts use sexy female profile images, I’m guessing to attract as many followers as possible.
To illustrate my point, here are the typical profile images of spam accounts:
Ahhh yes, the old auto-DM (Direct Message)! Oh how I hate thee.
An auto-DM is just an automated response, so that when you someone friends you, Twitter sends out a message that reads something along the lines of “Thanks for following us! Now check out our website and Facebook Page <insert link here>!”
There are a number of different third-party services in which you can set your Twitter account to auto-DM, none of which I’m going to list here, because I have one simple rule when it comes to auto-DM’s: if you send me one, I’ll delete you. No questions asked.
After my recent trip snowboarding in Utah, I got back home, logged into Twitter on my laptop and decided to follow Burton Snowboards (as that was the board I was snowboarding on). I followed them. Immediately I receive an auto-DM. Immediately I delete them.
Just because they are a huge company, doesn’t mean to say that they are immune! It sends a bad message from the start, and tells me that they are more interested in spamming me than give me relevant info.
Just so you know, I’m not in the minority on this! Any Twitter-user who knows the true value of the service as a social networking tool feels the EXACT same way. If you want to thank people for following you, personalize it, and make sure you use their name so they don’t think it’s a spammy auto-DM, for example “Thanks for following us, Steve! Have a great Tuesday!”
Your voice on Twitter is, of course, totally up to you. I would just make sure that you set the tone from the beginning.
As you look at a tweet, it appears to be just a simple 140 character sentence; but in fact you have the ability to web links, or even photos or videos. Make sure you utilize this to its full extent!
Here are a few examples:
“Beautiful weather in Sonoma this morning. <link to a photo of the sun rising over your vineyard, taken that day>”
“We just started picking our Cabernet grapes. <link to a short video of that days harvest>”
“Wine Spectator just gave our Pinot Noir 92 points! <link to Wine Spectator review page>”
“Clearly this guy loves our Merlot! <link to funny photo of the winery dog sat next to a open bottle of your wine>”
Obviously try to keep all tweets as interesting as possible, but remember that you only have 140 characters to do so! Always re-read before hitting send button to make sure it is readable and there are no spelling mistakes.
So is there anything you shouldn’t Tweet?
Of course! All the stuff I’m sure you already know! Keep religion and politics, bad words or negative feelings toward anyone off your business page. You certainly want to add some personality, but just remember that everything you say represents your brand.
If Steve tweets you with: “@XXXXXWinery: Hey, tasted your Chardonnay last night and it sucked!”
Don’t respond with, “@Steve: Maybe it’s because you have the palate of a dog? Stick to drinking toilet water!”
Unlike one-on-one personal conversations, which will vanish shortly after they have been held, Twitter conversations have a tendency to stick around for a while. You don’t want those angry Tweets coming back to haunt you!
A more appropriate response to the above Tweet would be “@XXXXX Sorry to hear that! Was it corked? Are you normally a Chard drinker? Do you want to try our Merlot? How can we help?”
However, if you are being bombarded with insults or bad language from a user, you can either: stop following them, block them, or block and report them for spam.
As a quick example of how a bad tweet can get you into trouble, check out the below example from Chrysler. This guy mistakenly posted this tweet to his business page instead of his personal page and was fired shortly after. [I personally think that firing the guy was a little harsh, and the situation could easily have been turned around.]
I had the hardest time coming to terms with hash tags when I first got into Twitter.
A hash tag looks like this: #wine
The easiest way of thinking about hash tags is to categorize content, and to make it hang out in the Twitterverse a little longer.
This is the correct way to use hash tags in a tweet: “Have you seen our new #wine label #design? Would love your thoughts! <Insert link here to photo of wine label>”
(Nice and simple, easy to read and to the point)
This is the incorrect way to use hash tags in a tweet: “Our new #Sonoma #Chardonnay is #awesome!!! Buy a bottle tonight! #wine #California"
(It looks spammy, and just an obvious attempt to get noticed by as many people as possible.)
I would personally say that two hash tags is about the max to add to a tweet. Any more than that just makes your tweet more difficult to read.