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When Twitter Hours Don't Work For Local Business Marketing

by Jo Shaer, on September 30, 2014

Local Twitter HoursI always encourage attendees of my Twitter training consultations to use Twitter Hours for their town or industry.

The idea of Twitter Hours is that you get a group of people together who have something in common. It might be as generic as a hobby, like Martial Arts - although be prepared for a lot of fireworks as senseis disagree over the performance of techniques and the position of little fingers - or it could be businesses and people in a particular location. Then you get them to tweet to each other and retweet updates that they think might be of value to their own followers.

In theory it is a great way to get noticed.

Unfortunately, a lot of tweeters don't actually understand Twitter Hours, particularly the business owners on location based examples.

Twitter Hours are about personal interactions not automation

TwitterWhat tends to happen is that the local aggregators join and start retweeting using automated software. So if your tweet contains the name of your town as it should if you are doing a #TownHour, all the tweets get retweeted. The aggregator has done its job but there is no personal interaction.

How business owners go wrong on Twitter Hours

Then business owners realise that an hour on Twitter is quite a commitment. They find Hootsuite or some other form of tweet scheduler and use that to put in a generic introduction tweet at the beginning like "Hello #TwitterHour, how is everyone today.", followed by a more specific tweet including a link to their latest product or whatever it is they want to plug and then a generic goodbye tweet at the end.

They can keep an eye on the feed on their mobile phone and press a button to retweet everyone else's tweets but they don't really have to physically participate at all. They don't even have to read the tweets! They just press retweet, retweet, retweet. They completely miss the point of what it is all about - building and maintaining relationships! There is no personal interaction.

Next you get the networking and coaching groups. They may follow the business owner behaviour mentioned above or they may just schedule lots of tweets where they just shout about their next meeting/training session. Again, they don't put in the legwork to build relationship with the businesses contributing to the group. There is no personal interaction.

Many tweets will be comprised of the full 140 characters which means that people just pressing retweet will lose valuable information from the end of their tweets - usually the link.

Of course, even groups that are doing the personal interaction bit well can be a bit off-putting to the casual observer waiting to dip their toe in the water. It is intimidating to try to break in to an established group in real life or on Twitter.

Don't be a retweet automaton

A great example of the retweet automaton culture happened in #SouthendHour just a few weeks ago.

answer the question on twitter hoursA new person asked 'When is #SouthendHour?'. Her tweet was retweeted ten times but nobody actually answered the question until I noticed and took pity on her! She was totally bemused by the whole experience!

So, if you're going to be part of a #TwitterHour:

  • Go in and join the conversation!
  • Ask questions about the tweets and links that are being uploaded.
  • Find out more about the people who are participating.
  • Learn things you have in common
  • Make new connections.
  • Put in place the potential for new business without actually selling outright!
  • Remember the 80:20 rule! For every ten tweets you put up, eight should be entertaining, educational or informational and just two should be a sales message.
Topics:TwitterLocal Business Marketing

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