Parents know that social networking sites such as Facebook are a great way of finding out what their teenage children are up to but they can also be used by businesses to build relationships with their customers.
Twitter, the fastest growing social networking site of 2009, is to the Internet what texting is to mobile phones. By limiting users to just 140 characters per message, or ‘tweet’, Twitter provides the immediacy of a two way conversation on the Internet.
I asked Anthony Lloyd, owner of the Fallowfields Hotel in Kingston Bagpuize, to tell me how he is successfully using Twitter to market his Hotel.
“We have had tremendous success with Twitter, but not with direct responses to individual Tweets.
My style is to build up interest in getting people to follow my tweets – I have about 1600 followers to date, they are all targeted and all in the UK.
A lovely PR lady I met this morning at a BNI meeting said, ‘you express your personality on Twitter’. I think she meant this as a compliment – she booked something so I guess it was!”
Fallowfields Hotel is committed to sourcing food locally and even has its own farm.
“To develop interest, the farm gets a mention” says Anthony, “photographs of the animals; a bit of foodie stuff; other restaurants that I have been to and enjoyed; a bit of marketing and a bit of general business stuff; some charity stuff; I RT interesting bits of information, and above all use @mentions and DMs to engage with people, building the relationship to a point that it can be developed further off Twitter. If there is a secret, this is it.”
Anthony is clearly an experienced user of Twitter so I asked him if there are any “don’ts” to go with the “do’s”
“What I do not do is to use “tweet later” tools, because this repetitive form of self promotion/advertising is easily recognisable and turns people off.
Neither do I do the ‘good night tweets’ such as the ‘just had a ham sandwich, glass of Horlicks’ type of tweet.”
Perhaps the most important question to ask is how successful has Anthony’s Twitter marketing been?
“In the last 3 months I’ve had about 50 to 60 people through the restaurant, a conference for 50 booked for January and one overnight stay”
In addition to the very real business benefits, Anthony has also had
“Invitations to networking groups, some very good new friends, some great advice, some great fun, new golfing partners and there’s much, much more to come, I know it.
I’m not sure whether I have heard this benefit articulated elsewhere but I have found Twitter to be a great “accelerator of relationships”. With people I have engaged with on Twitter and then met face to face, the relationship starts from a higher level.
Twitter has the capability to be a powerful marketing tool for your business – and it is completely free – all it takes is the time to make it work.
“There is no magic to ‘selling’” says Anthony “and I was taught the formulae by the grand masters at IBM many years ago! Twittering is simply an up to date formula – the principles are identical to those learnt all those years ago.
To find out more about twitter go to http://twitter.com
Anthony Lloyd can be found on twitter at http://twitter.com/FallowfieldsUK
David Doughty, Oxfordshire Economic Partnership for Horizons and Futures Magazine, Spring 2010