The introduction of #hours is the new ‘Black’ and local networking using Twitter is gaining in popularity. Search for any locality and you’ll discover they have their own ‘#hour’ where local businesses can Tweet their services to potential customers – but is it really as easy as that?
Helen, from Rainbow 360 Media Ltd takes a look at the rise in popularity of local hashtag hours, outlining how to use them for business, and going right back to basics…
If you’re a business and using Twitter you should be taking part in your local ‘Hashtag Hour’. The many benefits of a Hashtag Hour include:
• Raising your company profile on Twitter especially in your locality
• Gaining more followers
• Potentially finding new business and sales leads
• Interacting with like-minded people, who are local to you, who could offer advice or help
So what is a Hashtag Hour? A Hashtag is this sign # and people use this on Twitter to be able to interact with other users about a particular subject – like a TV programme for instance, such as #GBBO (Great British Bake Off) #HIGNFY (Have I Got News for You).
A Twitter user searches for the hashtag using the search box (top right of screen) and sees all the comments about that particular subject. Obviously a TV hashtag is really just for fun, but businesses can benefit hugely by using hashtags suitable for their industry or location.
A local Hashtag Hour will have its own designated day and time, such as #Northantshour is every Thursday 8-9pm. This is the key to it all, using #northantshour just at that particular time each week will ensure you are greeted by like-minded business people all ready for some speedy networking.
How do I Find one Local to Me? Of course you can use the Twitter search box and type in #northantshour, #ketteringhour, #leicestershirehour etc – but this then requires a degree of skill and a calendar to work out when the hour actually is.
Also what if your local ‘hour’ is spelled differently? For instance if you search for #marketharboroughhour and it’s actually #marketharborohour then Twitter won’t find what you are looking for at all.
Google Northantshour, Walsallhour, Peterboroughhour (whatever your hour is) and you should easily find your own local hour. Plus on Google you should be able to find without difficulty what day and what time it is held on Twitter.
My First Hour… Once you know when your local hour is held, the advice is to just watch for your first week. Certain hours run exceptionally fast, as lots of businesses all join in and tweets come through at an alarming rate! Other hours which are relatively new are a little slower and easier to keep up with. If you watch the hour, refreshing your Twitter feed, you will see what people say and do and how they interact.
What Do I Do during the Hour? It’s not all business. In fact it should not be all about your business at all. Join the hour and introduce yourself and your business by all means, but don’t keep tweeting your sales message every minute. Use a party analogy, the # is your invite and when you get there, you introduce yourself and join in with the conversation – which can be anything from not being able to get the kids to bed, to the lovely Rioja you’ve found, to fishing, to why has Jeremy Paxman grown a beard…. Talk/Tweet as you would in a normal everyday situation.
If someone is Tweeting to someone else about a topic close to your heart, feel free to jump into the conversation and Tweet too! It’s OK. A Hashtag Hour is not the time to be shy!
What Can’t I do? Usual etiquette rules apply as they would at a party, don’t be rude to each other, no profanities, and don’t be mean or offensive. Other than that just use common sense to suss out someone’s sense of humour before Tweeting. Oh and no hard selling, it just turns people off.
Why Bother at All? People buy from people. The Hashtag Hour is all about making contact with other businesses and getting to know each other, offer recommendations for other businesses and they will do the same for you. Of course, as you Tweet other businesses in your area, if done correctly, then all their followers will see your Tweets too – casting your net wider and wider.
It doesn’t matter if the conversation is not solely about business, letting your customers get to know you, the company ethos and personality are all just as important in the world of social media.
Just to reiteration, the benefits of using the #hour are many-fold and include;
• Raising your company profile within your local area
• Gaining targeted, local followers
• Potentially finding new business and generating sales leads
• Interacting with like-minded people who could offer advice or help
Are There any Tools I Can Use to Help Me? There is a great tool called Twuffer.com which is one of the easiest tools to use to schedule tweets, however do beware of scheduling too many tweets if you are not around to respond to comments or @mentions.
Another is Hootsuite.com that also lets you schedule Tweets but also offers the ability to manage multiple networks, track brand mentions, and analyse your social media traffic. Tweetdeck.com is an app that lets users do a similar amount of actions.
There are many more apps and tool to be found online such as Twellow, TwiLert, Twithat, TwitterCounter, TweetReach and so on…
Why Networking in your Slippers? By now you should be able to see the benefits of using a Hashtag Hour for your business, but because many of them are evening based then a business owner can be in slippers and jim-jams sipping a glass of vino should they so wish! It’s a relaxing way to unwind after putting the kids to bed, network online with local business associates – and perhaps win some new business at the same time!
So join your local Hashtag Hour – the slippers are optional!
Rainbow 360 Media Ltd is a Public Relations company with a large contacts list in various sectors. They offer the full PR package for small or large businesses, with most budgets catered for. The Company also work alongside bloggers and are able to guide companies and help them utilise this relatively new way to market.
Rainbow 360 Media offer social media training and social media virtual assistant plus various support packages. Email Helen to find out how Rainbow 360 Media can help grow your business. Join her on Twitter @rainbowpr_helen, especially during #northantshour and #ketteringhour
If you maintain your local Twitter #Hour, please list your day and time below by sending us a ‘comment’