Twitter strategies, such as the ones we’ll discuss today, are great tools for building your brand and getting the word out about your product. If you only have time to focus on one social networking platform, make it Facebook. The numbers are there, and you are sure to find your audience, or at least part of it, there.

Twitter strategies, such as the ones we'll discuss today, are great tools for building your brand and getting the word out about your product.

If you’re ready to branch out, it might be time to try Twitter. Twitter has a much different function, and therefore it has a different audience and requires a different strategy. However, like other social networking platforms, it’s a powerful tool when used effectively.

What is Twitter

Twitter is a social media tool that allows users to submit brief (140 characters or less) messages to a network of other users. Twitter is known for communicating in a casual, conversational way and provides a platform to tell your farming operation story. It’s considered a referral site, because “tweets” sent on Twitter are viewed by users beyond your acquaintances, referring your farm information to many, many others. Facebook networks people, but Twitter networks ideas and topics. Facebook is about staying in touch with people you already know, but Twitter helps you reach people interested in the same topics as you.

People may want to follow your farm’s Twitter account to get information about how their food is grown, stay informed on agricultural issues, and generally be connected to their farmer and support the sustainable-agriculture movement.

Twitter Lingo

Twitter: the name of the site, tool, or social media approach being discussed in this post.

Tweet: a post of 140 characters or less sent via Twitter

Follower: a “follower” on Twitter is like a friend on Facebook. Instead, followers are simply those who wish to read your tweets. You then follow others of whom you’re interested in reading their tweets.

Hashtag: by marking any phrase or abbreviation with the hash or pound symbol (#), it can become its own theme or other searchable item. For example, every tweet marked #replenishOK or #lokalfood can be sorted into its own stream and searched.

RT: a “retweet.” This operates like the “share” button on Facebook, for example. Use the RT feature to simply repeat any existing tweet to your followers.

DM: a “direct message.” This operates like E-mail and are private conversations between two users who follow each other.

How To Get Started/ User Tips

The first step in signing up is to decide whether you want to start a company or personal account. A company account represents the company and can be used to inform the public about news, events, and products. A personal account is used by an employee, is more personalized, and is used to build relationships and act as a liaison for the farm.

If you choose a company account, your Twitter name should be your company name. To set up an account, go to http://twitter.com, fill in your name, email address, and password. Click the “Sign up for Twitter” button.

Next, your user name will be checked for duplication. If your ideal name is taken, choose something as similar as possible, so people can still find it. Don’t use something random, numbers, or underscores.

Next, read the Terms of Service and, if you agree to the terms, click the “Create my Account” button. Once your account is created, the software will guide you through a short tutorial explaining what “tweets” are and how they work.

Next, choose Twitter users to follow by searching interests in the search box and clicking on the “Follow” button, which will enable you to receive their messages. For example, type “local food” in the search box and several Twitter accounts

Tweet Ideas

Think of your Twitter strategies like an elevator pitch for your brand. You have 140 characters to get your point across and connect yourself to important topics. You can also do “Live Events” to promote your content to a wider audience and achieve some great social PR. The goal is to interact more than distribute information.

Whether your a farmer, farmer’s market manager, local food grocery store manager, or some other local food advocate, Twitter could have some positive influence for your business. Here are some potential tweet ideas:

  • Reply to other customers- this one is best if you don’t quite know where to start. What are your customers saying, what questions do they have? If your customers aren’t quite there on Twitter, then search for relative hashtags or topics and reply to them.
  • Questions that you have- Maybe you need a new lunch spot or are looking for a new source of beef for your store. Twitter is a great place to interact and get answers.
  • Sharing customer testimonials
  • Twitter is great for up to date information, such as sales and promotions. Maybe you got a new products in or just received a shipment of products you were out of. Twitter should be the go-to place for this information.
  • Providing tips (i.e., recipes) to customers
  • Engaging your customer and building loyalty – Twitter is all about conversations, building relationships and adding to the conversations.
  • Entering the great “food debate” – do you have something to say about agriculture today? Adding your own insight to a conversation when retweeting is a great way to engage customers.
  • If you do disperse information, make sure to add a question or your own insight. This provides ways for people to communicate back or engage with your tweets.

Twitter Strategies for Local Food Businesses

Remember, this is based on ideas – consumers want to interact with people, not a PR firm, robot, or other impersonal approach.

Fact-spewing is not engagement

  • One-way information sharing, such as sharing links, how-tos, fun facts or pictures, is not discussion nor is it engaging. Make your twitter strategies all about conversations, so ask questions or provide feedback to start off with.
  • Use URL shorteners to provide citations, links – any additional supporting information – whenever possible.

Tweet with personality

  • If you’re comfortable, share more than professional information.
  • Sharing personal likes and dislikes, what you are doing, etc., may serve as a starting point for good conversation with another user.
  • Jokes, one-liners, and even some “smartaleckiness” are acceptable, or in the case of Wendy’s you might even be celebrated.

Choose your arguments carefully

  • Realize that some negative engagements cannot be won.
  • Check the heckler’s Twitter feed and biography to get a feel for their background, motivation, affiliation, and/or stance.
  • Have a thick skin and prepare for insults and Twitter libel. This is the case of any internet interaction unfortunately. Many people might not understand your passion, and might even react negatively, if it means they’re wrong. You might not always change their mind, but you might plant a seed that grows into something down the road. Make sure you plant positive things, rather than negative.

A picture can be worth more than 140 characters

  • Have an appealing avatar and Twitter page format/background.
  • With a given message, share accompanying photos or videos if possible.
  • Share links to photo albums, YouTube, etc. (and they don’t have to be your own) to extend your message beyond 140 characters.

Being a learner is part of being an entrepreneur.

  • Post questions to a given user or to the entire Twitter platform – also a conversation starter.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, admit you don’t know, and if possible, defer it to someone who might know the answer.
  • Use Twitter as a headline summarizer to stay up-to-date on emerging farmer issues.

Keeping current and Twitter resources

  • Social media news sites, such as Mashable.com, have Twitter accounts. Follow them and receive tips and information about social media trends.
  • Pay attention to what fellow Twitter users are posting – often they will post tips. When in doubt, just post a question. It will be repeated by other users, and you will get an answer.
  • Search YouTube for various Twitter tutorials

These Twitter strategies will help you start on the right foot for successful marketing. Don’t forget to pin these for later!

These Twitter strategies will help you start on the right foot for successful marketing. Don't forget to pin these for later!

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