Okay Southwood, your time is up. Please return your boat to the dock. That was the tweet that alerted me to the fact that @BridalBuyer had signed up to Twitter. “Hurrah,” I thought…

There are other forms of social networking, including Facebook, linked In, blogs, forums and even youTube. But nothing has been as great for us as Twitter. So, how does twitter work? It has raised our profile, allowed us to deliver some of the personality that you will find in the print version of the magazine, and drawn people to us. I’ll admit that our humour doesn’t appeal to everyone, but we have found many, many new industry friends, readers and clients through Twitter, and you can too. Twitter is all about connections.

How does twitter workYou need a strategy – work out which social marketing tools are best for your demographic, who you want to talk to, about what, and how much time you have to commit to it. I warn you now – social networking is highly addictive, but the very best thing about it is that it costs you no more than your time. and unless you are going to sacrifice your valuable waking hours (and possibly marriage), and spread yourself very thinly, you should decide which of the social networking channels is right for you. While we have a blog and Facebook presence, what we love about Twitter is that it is a cheap, fast and effective way to reach out to the industry.

Now to dispel the first myth about Twitter and its role in business. It is NOT a medium on which you can communicate with your brides. That’s what the phone and email are for. It’s Tweets are 140 letters of punchy goodness. Quick to think about, quick to deliver, quick to move on from. The beauty of Twitter is that you can send a tweet of simply a smiley face (or even a sad one), you can send a direct message that no-one else gets to see, you can create a tweet that says everything about you as a brand or company, or you can simply ignore it and move on with your life, like 99.9% of your followers will. No-one notices if you haven’t replied. No-one singles anyone out, and each tweet brings responses from a whole new set of tweeple. It’s a joy.

Basically, Twitter is the place to keep updated with your designers, manufacturers and your competitors, and it’s a place to meet new business-minded people local to you. In fact ‘tweet-ups’ are the latest craze – this is where local businesses on Twitter meet up to network. We’ve recently organised one in Taunton, attended by 100 local bridal businesses. It was good fun and a great way of spreading the Wedding Ideas word!

how does twitter work - rachel southwoodI recommend that you spend half your time talking about your business, and by this I don’t mean selling, more about what you and your team are doing, industry news, links to your blogs and website, your excitement about various things that are going on in life and in the industry, and what you personally are doing at that point in time. It’s like a series of Facebook status updates – a chance for you to project the personality of the company outwards. How you tweet is how your business will be perceived.

The other half should be replies or retweets of other people. you’re looking to engage and connect with other users, and by doing this you will build up your followers in no time. Target celebrities who fit with your brand or have some power in business – their tweets to you are a very strong endorsement.

We’ve had tweets from some big names in business and the celebrity world, including @duncanBannatyne – another brilliant thing about Twitter is that you can tweet whoever you want. Who knows,they might just reply… above all else, don’t be tempted to use Twitter as an advertising vehicle. more than one tweet a day trying to sell something will just annoy people. After all, you are just once click away from being unfollowed. Time your tweets to target the various audiences around at the time of day. For example, the retailers are quieter during the day and on Saturdays when they’re busy with brides, whereas bigger businesses tend not to be around at all at the weekends. To keep their profile high, they use services like Hootsuite to schedule their tweets.

To gain followers, start by searching for people you know and like, including celebrities. Include your tweet name on your business cards, email and forum signatures and on your website. and naturally, you should deliver the same customer service on Twitter as you do face to face. always supportive, always polite – it’s fine to be funny but don’t ever get involved in spats. libel laws apply to Twitter (remember ryan giggs?). don’t be cryptic, either – it doesn’t look good to wash your dirty linen in public on any medium.

Of course we’d all agree that the best form of advertising is word of mouth – and that’s what Twitter is – one giant megaphone. enjoy!


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