How to use Twitter for Small Town Tourism Businesses

by Joanne Steele on September 30, 2009

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What Are You Doing?
Creative Commons License photo credit: wharman

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Yesterday I promised you an introduction to Twitter.

I joined Twitter 18 months ago as tourism director in Siskiyou County, California, not really having a clear idea about how I would use it.

My understanding of the value of Twitter is still growing. It’s a tough medium to figure out because you’re limited to 140 characters – short bursts of information.

And, your post may or may not be read by your followers, depending on whether they’re online and following at the moment your tweet appears. If your followers are following thousands, the tweets they receive move down their page and into oblivion within minutes or seconds of being posted.

So, why bother, you might ask. You’ll have to answer that question for yourself. The point for me and I believe for you is that it’s free, easy, and hugely popular.

Realize that once you set up your Twitter page, you need to work with it to build traffic and a following.

So now, here’s how I suggest you learn the basics you’ll need to get started.

To learn the basics I’m going to send you to Mashable.

The Twitter Guidebook at Mashable is divided into 5 chapters covering everything you will need to understand this social media tool.

Follow the instructions and you’ll be tweeting in a week. Bookmarke and refer back as needed to guide you through searching for people to follow, sending direct messages and replying to followers.

Here’s a word of warning about following.

You will learn how to find people to follow.

To keep Twitter useful to you, only follow people you’re genuinely interested in hearing from. You don’t need to follow everyone who follows you.

Follow people who you can learn from. Follow people who are your customers or prospective customers. Follow others in your business sector or who are your competitors.

To get Twitter working for you plan to tweet at least once a day.

Make your tweets informative, and interesting. Send people back to a specific page on your own web site where they can get more information on the topic of your tweet. This also helps your search engine optimization (SEO)

I use a site to compress the URL of my referenced page, to save characters. Currently I use http://j.mp/.

If you use Twitter already, let us know how it has helped your business. This is the largely unanswered question for tourism businesses. Tell us how your small rural business is faring on Twitter.

Oh, and you can follow me at http://twitter.com/ruraltourism

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