Twitter: Back to Basics

Last month saw Twitter enter into its second decade, and for the 320 million people around the world who use it actively, Twitter is probably one of the better social networks.

However, it can be a bit of a minefield to navigate, understand and use, and the stats back this up.  Of the 1.3 billion Twitter accounts registered worldwide, only 120 million people use it monthly, nearly half of all accounts have never sent a tweet, and about 40% of active accounts haven’t tweeted in the last year.

Here in the UK, there are 13.1 million active users that businesses have the potential to connect with if they know what Titter is, how to use it and why it could be beneficial to them.

To help demystify Twitter, here are 10 Back to Basics tips for using Twitter for your business.

1. What is a Tweet

When looking at the Twitter feed, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of posts streaming in.  You may be wondering what the highlighted words preceded by a # are, or why someone’s name starts with the @ symbol. Perhaps you’re unsure of what the arrows mean below the post. Getting to grips with the way a post looks is paramount to getting started with your own tweets, so here’s our guide to the anatomy of a tweet:

Twitter Basics: Anatomy of a Tweet

 

2. What does the @ symbol mean?

The @ symbol always precedes an account name.  It’s like our own web address; it’s how people can find us on Twitter and the only way to reference (or mention) another user in your tweet (eg @tuminds). Users are notified when they are @mentioned. It’s how we can speak to one another on Twitter.

 

3. What is a hashtag?

We explored in-depth what a hashtag is in our blog post: Hashtags: What Are They?  Basically, a hashtag is a word or phrase that help us identify and pull together specific messages and topics of conversation. You can create your own hashtags, use established hashtags and you can monitor hashtags for conversation and information.

 

4. What are Trends?

Each day you’ll see that Twitter Trends change as a trend refers to a hashtag-driven topic that is most popular at that particular time. In other words, trends are the topics that a lot of people on Twitter are talking about that day.

 

5. Reply, Retweet, Like, Analytics and More

To comment on a tweet, answer a question or take part in a conversation, you use the first arrow below the tweet – the reply button. When you click on this arrow, Twitter will automatically open up a new post box with the @accountname you want to reply to.

To share a tweet with your own followers, you click on the second set of arrows – this is known as re-tweeting. This lets you share other people’s content that might be of interest to the people who follow you.

If you want to show another Twitter user that you have read and liked their tweet, you click on the ‘heart’ button. This was formerly known as the ‘favourite’ button (once a yellow star), but Twitter changed this to the heart earlier this year.

Reply, RT, Like, Analytics, More Features

 

Once you build up a certain number of followers, you can view data for each of your tweets to see how far your post has reached across Twitter (impressions), and how many people took an action on your tweet (engagement).

The ‘More’ button is where you can:

  1. Send the person who tweeted a DM (direct message) this is a private 1-2-1 message which appears in Messages.
  2. Copy the web link for the tweet, so you can share this across the web.
  3. Embed the tweet using a code that you can place on your website or in your blog.
  4. Mute, Block and Report Twitter accounts. These features allow you to control any unwanted or abusive tweeters or trolls by muting or blocking them. You won’t see their content and they won’t see yours. Reporting these Twitter account sends a report to Twitter to signal that the post or the account user is breaching community rules.

 

6. Following People

The best way to make Twitter useful and relevant to you is to find and follow useful and relevant people. When you find someone you like on Twitter, you can follow them easily with just a click of a button.

If you see someone in your newsfeed, for instance, you can hover your mouse over the @accountname and their profile will appear with a little icon of a person in the top right-hand corner with a + sign.  Click on that and you’ll start following that account.

You can also follow people by visiting their profile page and clicking ‘Follow’.

How to follow someone on twitter

7. Moments – The Lightning Bolt

Next to the tab for your home feed, you see the ‘Moments’ tab.  This feature lets you see what Twitter describes as ‘the best of what’s happening on Twitter in an instant.’ Moments is a bit like Trends, but focuses more on the content and conversations that are being shared across the network, and lets you see stories as they unfold. You can find Moments on your Twitter App by clicking on the Lightning Bolt.

Finding Moments

 

7. Twitter Lists

To help organise your Twitter feed so that it remains useful and relevant to you, you should use Twitter Lists.

When you click on your profile picture in the top right-hand corner of your screen, you’ll see a link to ‘Lists’. Click on this link and you can now start creating and organising lists to add people to.  For example, you could create a list called ‘Local Businesses’ to which you would add the Twitter accounts of businesses in your area, and when you click on this list, your feed will contain only the posts from people on this list.

You can also follow other people’s lists. Do this by finding a relevant Twitter user, visit their profile and click on ‘Lists’ next to where you can see the number of tweets they’ve sent, the number of people they follow and the number of followers they have, then the posts they have liked.  Find a useful list and click on ‘Subscribe’. You can now access this list from your own account.

Twitter Lists

8. Linking Facebook and Twitter?

It’s tempting to link your two accounts together and simply send all your Facebook messages to Twitter. But try to resist the urge.  There are two reasons for this. Firstly, people want to see Twitter messages on Twitter. If they wanted to see a Facebook post, they would be on Facebook. Don’t push them towards another social media platform every time you post.

Secondly, while you have no character limit on Facebook, you do on Twitter, so not only is it obvious that you’ve linked your accounts when the sentence is broken in half and ends with a www.fb.me link, but you aren’t actually communicating your whole message to this audience. It would be like placing an advert in a newspaper or magazine and only giving the publisher half the advert. Pointless.

Linking Facebook and Twitter

9. Are you using the app?

One of the biggest advantages to Twitter is how easy it is to use on the go. You can craft quick, real-time messages to give your followers an insight into your day or work. The App has all the same functionality as the desktop version but is less cluttered.

 

10. Can I schedule Tweets?

Yes, you can. You can’t actually do it direct from Twitter, but there are online tools to help you schedule your messages. I use Hootsuite, but there are a number of publishing and scheduling tools you can also use including TweetDeckTwittimer, and Twuffer. Have a search for the scheduling tool you find easiest to use.

Twitter Basics

Advertisements

Using Social Media to Attract Tourists

These days, people are more likely to turn to review websites and social media to search for travel inspiration for their next holiday.

As our search behaviour changes, it also highlights how our consumer behaviour has changed. Another advantage of digital technology is that we can see and interpret how people use the web and the types of content they access to build a picture of who they are and how best to attract them to our businesses.

This blog post talks about the lessons we’ve learned; looks at the recent Trends report from the Insight Department at Visit Scotland, and uses data collected by Google on tourism trends and behaviour.

The Online Traveller according to Google

At the end of last year, Google provided us with an insight into how travellers use digital technology to plan, make arrangements and engage while on holiday. These were summarised into the ‘5 Stages of Travel’ that every tourism business should tap into to be successful in the digital world.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BA-cK8xjisM/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7

Dreaming

Every holiday starts with a dream. Whether it’s a location they’ve wanted to visit for years or they’ve been inspired by other people’s travel adventures (documented on their social media), the digital traveller first resides in the dreaming stage.

It’s at this stage that people collect information, make bucket lists and seek out possible adventures. They’re inspired by friends who share photos and videos of their own holidays on their Facebook and Instagram throughout the year, and the digital tourist starts to aspire to have their own experiences.

It’s here that people start to collect articles, visuals, photography, the story of their possible travelling experience and put these into boards on Pinterest, follow new accounts on Twitter and Instagram, and watch videos on YouTube or Vimeo for travel inspiration.

Planning

This is when they turn to Google and search for travel blogs, online travel guides, transport, accommodation and activities they can do in these dream locations.

According to Google, people visit an average of 40 websites before they make any bookings, and turn to social media for recommendations from friends and family. Pin Trips is also on the rise, helping to coordinate and organise planning of the holiday.

It’s at this stage when the digital tourist has the most discussion with their social communities.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FHolidayScotland%2Fposts%2F903889366385392&width=500

Booking

The third stage is when the credit cards start to come out. People will look to TripAdvisor and other review sites to help make up their minds. The digital traveller is much more likely to make a booking (be it for accommodation, travel or activities) if a tourism business has responded to reviews, questions, and feedback on their social media; including Trip Advisor.

The digital traveller expects to be able to book online or by mobile, they don’t expect to have to pick up the phone. Again this relates to the patterns of our digital and online use, people are much more likely to be looking at making a booking in the late evenings when work is over, dinner has been had and perhaps the children have been put to bed. So it’s not always convenient to pick up the phone at 11pm to make a booking or reservation.

TA Walking Tours Inverness

Experiencing

While on holiday, the digital traveller will continue to stay connected (location and Wi-Fi permitting of course). They’ll be using their smartphones while on the move, to search for the next thing to do, to find a place to stop for a bite to eat, and to make future bookings while they are on their adventure.

It’s this behaviour that makes it crucial that your business is optimised for search engines. You might like to consider what your potential digital tourist might be searching for, while on the go so that you can be there in that moment with your website, your social media or a good piece of helpful content.

Sharing

It’s at this final stage that the digital tourist creates their Virtual Trail, documenting their adventure to share with (and inspire) their friends and family.

Here’s where all that lovely user-generated content starts happening, with picture and video shares to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, live streaming of experiences on Periscope or Facebook Live, reviews being written on Trip Advisor, Facebook and Yelp and blog posts published to WordPress and Tumblr.

And so, the journey comes full circle, as the story of your digital tourist’s holiday is shared to inspire the dream in the next digital tourist.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BF4NqYgyKIE/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7

 

Visit Scotland Trends Insights

Throughout the year Visit Scotland’s Insight Department publishes their Trends Report, as the tourism and hospitality sectors are sensitive to consumer trends and economic conditions, it’s important to be aware of how the environment is changing, what trends are remaining in place and which ones are emerging so we can all continue to develop the tourism sector in Scotland.

  1. Be Honest, Be Authentic

We all have different ideas of what authenticity is, and so will our tourists. Therefore, it’s important to have an understanding of who you are wanting to attract and what type of perspective they have of Scotland.

For some, Scotland is tartan, shortbread, and Highland vistas. But for others, it’s the contemporary shopping in Glasgow or arts festivals in the Borders or Islands. Tourists are looking for ‘authentic’ experiences and we need to meet their expectations.

  1. Millennials do travel

Aside from the over 65-year-olds, the 16 to 24-year-old Millennial will travel during the off-season. They not only stay the longest on average in the winter months, but they also have money to spend.

This group is looking for unique experiences, local or ‘glocal’ products, they are environmentally driven and seek quality for good value. It’s not about the cheapest, it’s about the best experience.

  1. Keeping the mystery alive

Tourists, consumers, people searching for travel inspiration still want to be in control of their purchasing decisions and want to seek out those unique experiences for themselves too. Offering your potential tourist other services and products they might like from business outside of your portfolio or even similar businesses, brings back an element of that control.

  1. Micro-Experiences

As tourists seek greater flexibility in their experiences, the adoption of the micro-product has driven more interest in a variety of sectors from accommodation, food and drink to textiles.

Examples of micro products include the micro-breweries (small batch local craft beer/ale), micro-hotels (short stay accommodation), micro-adventures (activities based in escapism that doesn’t require a lot of planning i.e. a walk in the local park) and micro-retail (pop-up shops and unique independent brands).

All of these products are fostering a sense of exclusivity and personalisation.

  1. Visuals, Visuals, Visuals

A picture speaks a thousand words and a video a million. The rise of visual content, created and shared by users, has been phenomenal in the last few years. A picture or video captures the ‘feeling’ and the ‘experience’ of a location, event, activity or experience, more effectively than any other medium.

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have all become places where people share their images, creating emotional connections with views that can become the motivation for travel to that place pictured, or foster the desire to take a similar photograph in that place for their own social media presence.

Businesses need to consider how they are using visuals to communicate to their market; are they taking advantage of the photogenic hotspots in their area, are they considering wildlife, the built environment, and rural locations as a way to signal to potential tourists the fantastic photographic potential of visiting your area.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFOWptnlU6h/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7

 

Sian’s Insight

Over the years of advising and training tourism and hospitality businesses in using social media to attract and retain tourists to their business, I’ve found the following 5 tips very useful:

  1. Keep it simple and commit to it

    If you’re going to use social media then pick a platform you like to use, keep it easy by planning your social media posts in advance and be consistent.

  2. Use visuals and helpful information

    If you can’t create your own, then share other people’s helpful content or inspiring pictures. It’s there to be shared.

  3. Know who you want to attract 

    A family and their dog will be looking for a very different experience than the lone traveller, for instance, so don’t be tempted to think you can use the same marketing message for both for a quick win.

  4. Experiment with social advertising 

    If you want to increase your reach or exposure, then consider spending a small amount on a well-placed and targeted social advert.

  5. Tell your story 

    If people are interested in the ‘real’ Scotland and authentic experiences, then why not start with yourself.  

The Hebrides – Things You Have to Do and See

I spent three days working in the Hebrides this week. I’ve not visited in the summer before, only the winter, and what a fantastic place Lewis and Harris are in the glorious light of the sun. After doing a couple of digital consultations with some clients, talking websites, social media, cloud storage, mobile and tablet devices and the merits of having a mac or a pc, I got to take some time to explore the North Uists for the first time. So I’ve compiled a list of the things which I reckon are not to be missed if you ever find yourself over on these sunny isles.

1. Harris Tweed

There are so many amazing designers now making the most beautiful items from Harris Tweed these days, it has become a fashion must have for sure. Although I wasn’t able to get the jacket I really fancied (it was about £500), I was able to take a good look around some of the stores in Stornoway and around Tarbert.

Harris Tweed

Harris Tweed

Recommended Harris Tweed Outlets:

2. Firstfruit Tearooms

I had the most wonderful tea and scone, lunch and afternoon hangouts at the Firstfruit tearoom in Tarbert. It’s a fantastic family run summer joint where you can chill in the croft space or bathe yourself in the sun outside in their garden. It’s a fab place to meet other tourists and chat about travels around the island. Great value for money too.

First Fruits tearoom

First Fruits tearoom

3. Callanish Standing Stones

These amazing stones were pulled and heaved into place about 4,000 years ago by the inhabitants of the Hebrides. No one is certain why they were put there and for what purpose, but I imagine they would draw people in from all over the island as a place to come together as a community, for shared experiences, and perhaps even some form of worship – in someways its not changed all that much! There is a great little visitors centre there too with an exhibition, unfortunately the weather wasn’t that great when I went and two enormous coaches of tourists arrived just as I did, but it is definitely worth the visit and for a wonder around, it’s not too far outside of Stornoway either.

Calanish Stones

Calanish Stones, JM Barries Signature from the Harris Hotel, and looking over Tarbert

4. Hebrides Art Cafe

Hebrides Art Cafe

Hebrides Art Cafe

If you like your art, or colour, then a trip to Seilebost to see the Hebrides Art Cafe is an absolutely must. Not only is it an exquisite drive down to the South end of Harris, but the cakes and paintings are to die for. I would rank this gallery as one of my favourite of all time. It was relaxed, friendly, the location was amazing, and the talent of the artists and maker’s on display was incredible. All art in the gallery has to be inspired by the Hebrides and about 50% of the exhibits are from local artists. I was overcome by the beautiful colours on display – always have been a sucker for the colours of the sea. Will be saving my pennies for a piece from there soon (managed to buy a couple of postcards as a reminder!)

Hebrides Art, Seilebost, Isle of Harris, HS3 3HP.

5. Stornoway Black Pudding

If you are going to take a trip to Harris or Lewis then you absolutely have to stop and pick up some original Stornoway Black Pudding. The butcher who made the original pudding is based in Stornoway, not far from the high st. It is perhaps the most delicious piece of blood and guts I’ve had to date, it just melts in your mouth – we’re saving the piece I brought home for some Sunday black puddin’ rolls! Yummm.

Stornoway Black Pudding

Stornoway Black Pudding