In this mini-series from Laura Bodell of Bella Spur Innovative Media, we are going to look at a few of the social media platforms available, and examples of companies and not-for-profits that are using them well.
More than 140,000,000+ active users. At least 340,000,000 Tweets per day. There is no denying the popularity of Twitter. What makes it one of the must-have tools in an online arsenal? Timeliness, versatility and reach are three of the major factors.
Twitter is often the first medium where news breaks; a simple hashtag (see definition below) allows Tweets to be found easily through keyword/phrase searches. The versatility of this platform is quite unique in the online world, allowing users to tailor its functionality specifically to their needs. Whether they want to follow a specific industry, stay current on news, converse with friends, or search for information on a specific topic, they can use Twitter. The use of lists, Retweets, hashtags and geotags can expand your reach exponentially from your own followers to literally, the world.
More than any other social media platform, Twitter holds tremendous potential for the agricultural industry to connect directly with consumers. Finally, we can overcome the communication disconnect to both learn what is important to consumers in regards to their food-buying decisions, and also to help educate them about food production.
Before we get started, you may want to refer to the Twitter glossary of terms that will help you understand better what we are talking about.
Here are a few strategies to managing a successful Twitter account:
- Quality content. As we talked about in our Facebook overview, Twitter is a conversation tool. When posting informational Tweets, consider what content supports your core values and is of interest to followers.
- Post frequency. You want to Tweet often enough to get noticed, but not so often as to become annoying. Use your discretion.
- Visual branding. Though graphics are more limited on Twitter, you are able to upload a profile photo that will show to the left of your Tweets and also personalize your profile page with a background image and unique colour palette.
- Mentions. Use the “@” in front of a fellow user’s handle to either converse with them or send a shout out.
- Hashtags. Use the “#” in front of keywords or phrases to link your Tweet to a topic or conversation in order to increase your reach through searches.
- Twitter Advertising. Businesses can “promote” Tweets, trends or their account for additional exposure.
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Who is doing it well
I know, it’s not an ag business. But Westjet absolutely sets the bar in terms of using Twitter effectively for business. They are very cognizant of what information is important to their followers – flight updates, travel advice, seat sales – and use the medium to further enhance their customer service by addressing questions and concerns almost instantly.
Organization: AgChat Foundation
The AgChat Foundation was actually developed from its Twitter community. Created as a forum to connect agvocates and encourage online discussion, they host a weekly moderated chat on Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST using the hashtags #agchat and #foodchat. Agriculture enthusiasts use the AgChat-endorsed hashtags daily to share information that is of interest to the farming community.
Personal: Troy Hadrick
Troy is a fifth generation cattle rancher who was one of the first to embrace Twitter as a means to connect directly with consumers. He is a fantastic advocate for agriculture, and has become an nationally-renowned speaker for both urban and rural audiences.
My favorite book on the ins and outs of using Twitter successfully is UnMarketing by Scott Stratten (@unmarketing). He explains it all in layman’s terms and relates the information extremely well to business. Plus, he’s funny.
By Laura Bodell, Bella Spur Innovative Media Inc. [bellaspur.com]