You’ll know from my participation and co-hosting of Twitter chats, ScotlandHour, ScotFood and EdinHour that I’m an enthusiast for Twitter chats. If structured so that people who follow them get value from the chat, then they can be a useful tool as part of your social media strategy. Having hosted and participated over the last 3 years, it’s a delight to be asked for help from businesses who might want to join in, but haven’t yet worked out how best to do so.
A cup of coffee at the Scottish Storytelling Centre recently was the way Beth Edberg and I chose to discuss why joining Twitter chats might work for her business. Beth is one of the co-owners of Cranachan and Crowdie in the Royal Mile, Edinburgh and she and her partner Fiona McEwan are enthusiasts for the wide range of food produced here in Scotland. We ‘met’ on Twitter several years ago when I joined with my @2edinburgh account for Craigwell Cottage talking about things of interest to Edinburgh visitors, and Beth was similarly promoting her Edinburgh Storytelling Apartment.
Over the years, our interests coincided again when Beth and Fiona launched Cranachan and Crowdie and I helped launch the Crail Food Festival.
Beth and I met to discuss how Cranachan and Crowdie could join in with the ScotFood chat.
Tips for joining ScotFood
- Put the regular dates for #ScotFood (first Monday of every Month) in your diary.
- Put a reminder in your diary a few days before to check what the questions for discussion will be.
- Prepare some material for the chat to support your answers. Photographs are particularly useful, or a blog post with your answers.
- Use a scheduling tool for Twitter to prepare your answers so that your business will participate at the right times with helpful answers. We discussed using Hootsuite which has a free option for a small number of social media profiles, or a paid option for businesses which may have a number of different profiles.
- Use the tag #ScotFood in your answers, and start your answer with A1 for the answer to Q1, A2 for Q2 and so on.
- Join in the #ScotFood chat on the day and engage with others who are there, knowing that your answers are scheduled to go out too.
- If you have lots of photographs to share, have them in an easily accessible place to attach to your Tweets during the hour – it can go very fast when lots of people join in, and you don’t want to miss your chance to show your knowledge.
Business Strategy for joining Twitter Chats
The #ScotFood chat moves hosting round Scotland, to ensure every area has a turn to host. But everyone can join in each month – some questions are general and some are more specific to the area. This gives foodies, food businesses, chefs, restaurants, cafés and potential visitors around the country a chance to find out more about what’s special in the area, as well as being able to talk about what they’re cooking, eating or drinking which is in season. For Beth at Cranachan and Crowdie, her store stocks food and drink as well as craft and gift items from around Scotland. She also regularly hosts events at her store, which others might like to know about.
Joining in a Twitter chat like ScotFood gives Beth’s business the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge (by answering the set questions); interact with others during the chat; be found by others who might want to buy from her store and possibly connect with visitors to Scotland. She doesn’t need to be directly ‘selling’ all the time the chat is happening – people will naturally take a look at her Twitter profile and find out more about her business that way.
Over the first series of ScotFood chats, we had an average of 140 people join each chat, contributing over 950 Tweets during each chat, with an average number of impressions in excess of 1,500,000 (a measure of the number of Tweets and the number of followers of each participant – the higher the number, the higher the reach of the chat).
But a Twitter chat is just one part of a strategy for a business, and Beth and I went on to discuss how creating a content calendar would be a good idea for her business, as she is already active in several social media channels, and amongst the demands of running a busy shop, it’s necessary to make time for each of them to ensure that she gets results. Although Twitter might be a starting point, creating a calendar for content for all of her channels might come from using ScotFood as a starting point. Here’s how:
Cranachan and Crowdie have a website, on which visitors can see that they also have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. As Beth knows that the ScotFood chat is on regularly, and it features different areas of Scotland each time, she could use this to inspire her content strategy for other social media sites. So, for example, knowing that Perthshire, Dundee and Angus is coming up next, she could:
- Write a blog post for her website, which has a news section, featuring a producer from Perthshire, Dundee or Angus
- Share some pictures of the area or foods which she sources from there on Facebook
- Join in the ScotFood chat on Twitter (that’s where we started, remember?), remembering to follow those who join the chat, and to interact during the chat
- Take some pictures of food in her shop from the area and share them on Instagram, using the tagging feature there to allow more people to find Cranachan and Crowdie, and for her to find more people to follow too
- Make up pin boards on Pinterest of food from different geographic areas of Scotland – like this one for Orkney and Shetland I did for Crail Food Festival
We managed to discuss most of this in an hour or so. I do hope that it will encourage more Scottish Food and Drink businesses to use social media tools to share their businesses on-line. Thanks to Beth for agreeing that I could write about Cranachan and Crowdie as a great example of sharing. If you’d like to discuss how I could help your business to get more from sharing, then get in touch.