Community-Building for Biz Owners: Twitter

Posted By on Mar 17, 2014 in Creative Business

Welcome back for another post on community-building for small biz owners using social media. We’ve already covered Instagram, and now it’s time for a Twitter party!

Twitter screenshot


Let’s just assume, for a moment, that you’ve been living in a cave for a few years and you don’t know what Twitter is. Twitter is a social media site where you can post just about anything you want, as long as you do it in 140 or fewer characters. (For those of us with a tendency to wax philosophical and a background studying English Literature this is, shall we say, a challenge!)

Most often, people post on Twitter to say what they’re doing, what they’re thinking about, or to share things they’ve found around the Web. For a business owner, though, Twitter can be so much more: it can the place to host an endless party to celebrate your business and connect with your customers. (Ever wonder how they came up with Twitter? Read this!)

Twitter wordcloud

As Jess Van Den (@JessVanDen) points out, Twitter is like an endless cocktail party. While that might frighten some of you with more hermit-like tendencies, just think of it as an endless conversation you can digest in small portions and pop in and out of as you please. It’s also an ideal place to have short yet relevant conversations with your target audience and valued customers.

To help you out with building a community in 140 characters or less, let’s go through a few basic Do’s and Don’ts of Twitter, shall we?


  • Think of Twitter as a way to talk to people in a crowd. You don’t have to speak to the whole group at once. This isn’t about getting ALL of Twitter to like you, but about connecting to a select niche of people who will hang out with you in the corner and talk about the things that you actually like.
  • Use Twitter as a place to share things that your audience (and by audience, we mean the people most likely to shop at your business) cares about. Post links to interesting articles on the Web, photos of your product in action, and even invitations to events that are happening in your local area.
  • Keep it simple: you don’t have to use all the vocabulary you possess, or over-analyze those 140 characters. Twitter is supposed to be about quickly posting, not composing a dissertation.
  • Use Twitter as a way to connect with specific people; if you admire someone’s work, follow them! Feel free to tweet to them (simply write their @Username at the beginning of your post) and tell them you love their handmade jewelry or learned a lot in their latest online post. Just don’t come off like a stalker, or you may find they block you.


  • Use Twitter to broadcast your shop updates, and ONLY your shop updates. Yes, it’s okay to tell your Twitter followers that you’re updating the shop; after all, that’s probably a major reason they’re following you in the first place. But for the love of handmade, please do NOT tweet every. single. item. you list in that update and do NOT use Etsy’s built-in tweet feature without changing it first to make it more personal.
  • Ask other people to re-tweet your posts. This comes off as incredibly cheesy and spam-ish. The only reason to do this is if there’s a missing child alert or something similar; your shop updates are not reason enough to ask for a bunch of RTs (re-tweets). People will re-tweet if they want to; asking them to do it is like asking your friends to pass out your business cards on the commuter train. It’s just icky.
  • Try to keep up with all the posts. It isn’t going to happen. You could spend all day on Twitter, because if you follow enough people then someone will ALWAYS be posting something. Come in, go back out again, have a little chat and get on with your life or soon you won’t have a business to tweet about!


Tweeting Tips:

What should you tweet about? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Are you having a sale this weekend? Tweet it up! Tell your followers when, where, and how much they’ll save.
  • Did you just get a new product in stock? Take a photo and tweet it! You can even share your Instagram posts with Twitter for double the coverage in one picture.
  • Find something on @Etsy or a similar site that you swoon over? Tweet a link to it – not only are you helping out the biz of the person you’re tweeting about but you’re also showing your followers that it’s not just your own products you know how to share.
  • Post an opinion poll! Should I make this scarf in red or blue? Would you prefer these earrings with silver or gold? Get instant feedback from your customers in quick, easy-to-read responses!
  • Crowd-source. Looking for a good book to read? Not sure if that movie that just premiered last week is worth all the hype? Ask for suggestions and see what comes in. You never know who you might connect with in this manner that could become a new customer for life.
  • Retweet, but sparingly. Think of re-tweeting as recommending a product to someone in person. If you really love something, talk about it and retweet! If not, don’t just re-tweet everything you come across or you’ll lose credibility.
  • Use #hashtags for your brand and for specific events (see how we do it with our #ThinkCreateReflect posts and #MakersWednesday, or read more about it here from @EdmundSLee).

Are you hanging out on Twitter? How do you use it for your biz? We’d love to hear about it – please share it with us in the comments or tag us @PatternedApp on Twitter!

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