How 2 Tweet
Isobel Smith at the Puppet Centre's workshop at BAC
'How 2 Tweet, be ‘Liked’ and chat to your audience' was another really useful and informative 'How To' workshop from the Puppet Centre, focusing on how to launch a successful Facebook or Twitter PR campaign to build interest in your company/organisation.
Katie Elston, from Battersea Arts Centre, opened the workshop. A round of 'hands-up who...' and she quickly discovered that most of us attending were happier with Facebook and required more help with Twitter. Katie spoke about creating a dialogue with your audience to generate a virtual sense of ownership/loyalty.
She recommends investing time to get to know your followers on Twitter – their likes and interests ('focus on your “pull”') and to keep posts chatty and casual.
Tweets have a limited shelf life (just 2-3 days) so it's OK to tweet regularly: BAC tweets 5-7 times a day, and Katie advises that it's good to keep up a regular presence – even just one tweet a day can build up successfully. Twitter is an informal media, great for details and extra tit-bits of information, and it's important to generate interesting content, like mini interviews filmed on mobile phone cameras posted on Facebook, which can then be tweeted about, as can work-in-progress photos, mobile phone documentaries, chats, opinions from passers-by, even info about the rehearsal room's cat can open up debate and engage your followers.
Katie stresses the importance of following up interest by regularly checking for posts, responding ASAP to enquiries (even if you don't have the answer yet), tagging people (by typing '@' before their name) and mentioning them in posts.
Twitter works best for creating a community around an event or product by being gossipy and fun. It is not a direct marketing tool.
The next workshop leader, Penny Mills, Director of Client Services from Audiences London, identified a 'small chasm' in the use of digital media, in that distribution, engagement and marketing tend not to be integrated. How do you integrate them in your plan? She points out that they are just tools and we should identify how they may help us to achieve our goals.
Penny suggests spending time to identify what we want from engagement with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and what we have to offer.
Who do you want to talk to? What are you going to say? Can you join an existing group that shares your interests and vision? 'Its a two way thing', says Penny .'Have you got the time?'
She advises that FB / Twitter probably won't:
Drive traffic to your website (people often just stay within their online community for all they need), so make sure that all useful information is clearly signposted through the social media platform.
‘Sell’ tickets, but it will inspire interest and raise awareness… which may lead to purchase.
Be representative of all the people who see your work – so find out as much as possible about who it is you’re interacting with.
Generate more activity than you can handle – develop a manageable strategy and approach.
Give you results overnight – think long-term.
Social media can add value to an event and drive sales.
The last workshop leader, Andrew Girvan, the deputy editor of Whatsonstage.com, also warns against using social media as mere digital flyering: 'If you choose just to broadcast your marketing message, spending your time talking about nothing but your product and not engaging with the audience you are trying to market to, people will take a short glance at your post, clock it as advertising and completely ignore it. You might be familiar with this happening in other parts of your marketing mix. It's a lot like flyering.'
More valuable are opt-in marketing opportunities: like people sifting through flyers on cafe tables at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, choosing which to attend that day, Twitter operates in an opt-in way and Andrew recommends talking about 'everything but the product' in tweets while making sure that websites and box office sites are an easily accessible click away.
He recommends using the hashtag '#' feature of Twitter initially, to seek out appropriate people to 'follow'. E.g. putting in #puppetslondon will introduce you to a stream of comments around that theme. You can make your own hashtag by typing '#' before any word(s) you want to explore. Retweet (i.e. resend) any tweets you like and others will do the same with yours to attract more followers. Sign your tweets with '^' then your signature, e.g. ^xisx
Great content is key, and its important to identify which parts of your process best lend themselves to social media. Often the unpolished raw material is more chat-worthy than a shiny product.
Andrew agrees that it is vital to know what you want to achieve before you start, and adds that its important to set targets and measure results (he uses bitly.com) to make sure everything is working as it should. He recommends tricks to minimise the chore of keeping up with digital networking, using apps like dlvr.it he posts a news item and it goes instantly to Facebook and Twitter.
Andrew reminds us that tweets are made by real people with a genuine interest in sharing ideas, enthusiasm and information, and that it's great to get together in real life, at 'tweet-ups', with like-minded people near you.
To finish here are Penny Mills' top tips for Twitter:
Join in the conversation, ask questions
Talk, don’t sell
Keep it short (your username as well tweets) leaving room for re-tweets (RT)
Be genuine and yourself
Be lively and topical
Follow others, comment and RT to grow your following
Make sure your profile includes keywords/interests
Target content: re-cycle, rework and update