Understanding Twitter (Part 2)

Hashtags & Searching

Ever wondered what this twitter hashtag thingy is? Do you see people putting things like #bizitalk #competition #charity in their tweets & wonder what they’re for? Using hashtags like #followfriday or it’s shortened version #ff help spread information on Twitter while also helping to organize it. These hashtags can help with networking, either for businesses or individuals.  The #bizitalk hashtag is used by business to meet other businesses who retweet and spread the word to other tweeters, so if I tweet about a particular item I have available in the shop at a bargain price, it would only usually be seen by my followers.  By adding this particular hashtag among others, there is a greater chance for other businesses to retweet my tweet and then, their followers will see it too.  This obviously increases a tweeter’s audience in effect increasing followers.  Individuals use #hashtags to find ‘like-minded’ tweeters.  You may wish to find others who enjoy baking so you can search for a #baking twitter community. Or perhaps you are into running? How about the #runchat tag? You can network or follow other like-minded people on virtually any subject just by using Twitter’s search facility and then join in with conversations on that particular subject using a specific hashtag.  One important thing to remember is that if you want to start a trend on twitter with like minded people using your hashtag – keep it short but different!  If you are planning a village fete or some other event & want to spread the word & get people talking about it, you first need to search for the hashtag that you are thinking of using. If you are having a book club event – Just using #bookclub may not be good enough – there may already be lots of people using this hashtag so search for it.  Try to think of something that will make your hashtag individual.  When you have chosen, then tweet about your event using that hashtag asking if anyone else would like to join & that they should add this hashtag to join in. You will be surprised at how quickly you get like minded people using the tag. Of course, don’t overdo hashtags – It is a total waste of time to just put lots of hashtags in a tweet – as no substance is there to encourage people to retweet and after all, that’s the name of the game!  You don’t need a hashtag if you want to find people in your own town, Just search the name of the town and you will get a stream showing all the tweeters in that location.  The advanced page of Twitter’s search engine has an option to search ‘Near this place’, you can also stipulate within a certain distance, using certain hashtags (there’s that word again!) Or even state what language they tweet in!

Next time: I’ll start with a list of Twitter terminology that you may see in other peoples tweets that may or may not confuse you. Twitterspeak!


Understanding Twitter (part 1)


I don’t pretend to be an expert on Twitter, far from it! I just like to tweet & have found that people seem to like what I tweet, even the business stuff.  I wanted to write a ‘How to tweet’ in layman’s terms.  Something that will help people who are totally confused and sometimes frightened by twitter.  So if you are involved in SEO, or are a Twitter expert and/or someone who has been tweeting since the year ‘dot’ – this is not for you.  In fact you’d probably be appalled at the way I plan to describe it’s uses.  But this is my blog and I will write it how I see it!

This blog is for the young mum, who has her own little business and is scared to ‘dip her toe’ in the ‘Twitter pond’ because she is overwhelmed by the timeline that is whizzing down the screen.  It’s for the ‘facebooker’ who doesn’t see what benefits there are in just tweeting what in effect is a Facebook status every so often, and with limited characters at that.  It’s for the person who has heard about this twitter thing on TV & radio and doesn’t really care what celebrities are tweeting about but is curious about it’s popularity and uses.  They want to know what use is it to me? Who would be interested in what I have to say if they don’t know me?

Twitter describes itself as, “a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”
Oh no Twitter!  It is much more than that! It is different things to different people and is also very addictive!
Individuals use Twitter for different reasons. (I’ll explain the possibilities next time)
Businesses use it to network with other businesses & to advertise their goods & services.
For me, it’s a chatroom, where I can interact & share with aquaintances, friends, family & yes, dare I say it strangers!  As a business, everyone is a potential customer, so it’s very important to me to interact & have lots of followers.  How do I do that? I try to entertain, I have competitions, I make friends, I retweet. It’s as simple as that!
So, in a nutshell,  it’s a way to link up with like-minded people – total strangers in a lot of cases.  But, unlike Facebook, they don’t have access to your life if you don’t tweet it!
In a way, it can be termed as mini Facebook status updates using a maximum of 140 characters (which can be a struggle sometimes when trying to get your point across! I tend to have to go over what I’ve typed changing ‘to’ into the number 2, deleting definite articles, using the number 4 instead of the word ‘for’ & so on.  I also get rid of spaces where I can and hardly ever use punctuation!  The final sentence usually makes no sense, particularly if I want to leave space for all the ‘hashtags’ that a business needs to include these days! (We’ll get onto the ‘importance’ of the ‘hashtag’ in the next blog.
Another use for Twitter which has caught on is the ‘Twitter Competition’ – A process whereby individuals (known affectionately as ‘compers’) retweet certain phrases which include a particular word using a (yes, you guessed it) ‘hashtag’ to be included in a prize draw run by a business.
So who benefits from these ‘Twitter Competitions’?  The winner, obviously!  The business?  Some would say no, but many think it a way to increase their Twitter presence which in turn increases their overall ‘Web’ presence & can bring more people to their website increasing sales & revenue.  So yes for business, Twitter is very much a form of advertising & getting a name or brand known.  Businesses ask people to follow them and to retweet their prize draw phrase to get a bigger audience & therefore, more followers & more retweets.  Needless to say, the ‘Twitter Competition’ is very popular.
So what is a Retweet or RT?
This allows Twitter users to share the best links, tweets, and gems they find from others using the service.  But for beginners, it’s not immediately obvious what retweets are, or what tools to use to make retweeting easier.  Under most tweets there are options available.  Using these options makes communication & actions easier & quicker – sometimes!

These are the main options available:

  • Expand or View Conversation, means you can open up the dialogue & see what was said previously in the conversation
  • Reply is pretty self-explanatory – If you would like to interact with this tweeter, you click here.
  • Retweet, the magic link that every business would like people to click, so that their tweet reaches even more people. Let me explain: An original tweet will be seen by the tweeter’s followers only.  If this is then retweeted, then it is seen by the retweeter’s followers too, if it’s then retweeted again – well, it can go on & on which means more people see that business tweet/advert & there is a bigger audience for that business.   Another way to retweet is to add the letters RT to a tweet which has been copied & pasted from another tweeter, but this must include their Twitter ID to show that it was their tweet originally.  This usually limits how much of the original tweet can be sent out, as the original tweet may have used the whole 140 characters allowed.  You may then need to readjust the original tweet to fit it in which defeats the object & can totally change the context of the original!  Much easier to use the Retweet link!
  • … More  This option can have lots attached to it’s drop-down menu or it can have very little.  It all depends on whether you are tweeting from a phone (be it an iPhone or Android), from a tablet or indeed a PC or laptop.  I’ve found that they all show tweets & tweeting options differently and there are some things you just can’t do unless you are on a PC or laptop!  Most of the options here are self-explanatory though, so I won’t dwell on them.

The main thing is that tweeting is and can be as sociable as Facebook and I believe it’s easier to meet other people who have the same interests (be it business or other) than it actually is on Facebook because of the ‘hashtag’ phenomenon.

More ‘Twitter Facts soon!


Job Satisfaction/Online Personal Shopper

A lot of people ask ‘How can you have job satisfaction when you are just selling things to people?’  But they obviously don’t understand the manner of my job.  It’s great to think that we are supplying that something different to make gift-giving special.  It’s great when we receive emails & calls from people telling us how much the person receiving the gift liked it.  Especially if the buyer has asked us to suggest something for a specific occasion or person.

This is why I have started my ‘Online Personal Shopper’ service.  I not only have access to the wonderful gifts listed The Nest @ John Richards but we have hundreds of items not yet listed that I can draw from.  There is also our eBay shop.  Many people think the John Richards eBay shop is purely for vehicle related items.  But as mentioned in our ‘introductions’ & our ‘About‘ page, we originally listed gifts together with the vehicle parts on eBay and we still do.  I also have access to my many business acquaintances & friends on Twitter who run their own businesses, lots of them creating some wonderful hand-made items, and if there is nothing appropriate in our stock for a particular gift, then I’m not opposed to pointing someone in their direction.  I believe that if we support each other in business it can only be good for small business in the UK.  And who knows, other businesses may well reciprocate and point people in my direction for that special gift!

All people have to do to take advantage of this service is to contact us by email to nimuesnest@tiscali.co.uk with information about the recipient/s such as: Sex, Age, occasion, interests, budget & date required and I will do my best to find the right gift for them.  Obviously I will need some time to do this and hopefully I wont be expected to find something by yesterday!

It frees the buyer up to get on with their lives while I do their searching for them.

I also get a lot of fun & satisfaction creating competitions for my followers both on Twitter and Facebook.  At the moment I am looking forward to giving away a major prize of a picnic hamper to one of my twitter followers once I reach 3500 followers – almost there too so not long now!  I have just had a caption competition on Facebook too in which a lady won £20.00 to spend in our shop & she chose some lovely jewellery.  It’s just my way of saying thank you to my loyal supporters and obviously they see what we have to offer & may just come back again to buy 🙂  I’ll admit I’m not totally selfless – this is a business after all!

All in all I enjoy my work, I sit at my desk & get to chat on Twitter & Facebook.

To a certain extent, I choose my own working hours (sometimes they become a bit longer than planned!)  I work with my lovely family and have made lots of great friends through the Bizitalk twitter network for businesses.

Do I have job satisfaction for ‘just’ selling things to people? Oh Yes 🙂

Lavender Bag Craft Kit

We are currently linking up (through Twitter) with a lot of craft people all over the country and thought it might be an idea to stock some of their items in our shop.  Before stocking them, we decided it might be better to try them out ourselves.  We wouldn’t want to stock something that we thought was a waste of money or poor quality – that’s not what we’re about!
Deborah Hastings is designer, tutor & supplier of Rag Rug Kits to the likes of the National Trust and they don’t buy rubbish! So we thought we’d give them a go.

The sample kit arrived with all the essentials needed to make a pretty rag rugged Lavender bag or cushion including a sweet little bag of lavender which smells divine!  Being totally useless at ll things crafty & sewing, I was interested in just how easy I would find this venture.  The explanantion & sample piece of rag rugging included was a great help and I spent about 45 minutes the first evening cutting the included pieces of clean, pressed fabric into pieces of the required size (as shown in the pack).  I was absolutely covered in little pieces of cotton thread by the end of the evening, but I certainly felt that I hadn’t completely wasted an evening in front of the box as I usually do!  So I stashed away my little pieces of cloth until the next evening thinking – OK I’ve done the easy bit, roll on tomorrow!

The next evening I knew was going to be tricky, watching my favourite TV programme & making a craft item at the same time was going to be a real challenge.  Well that’s what I thought – It was, in fact, very ….wait for it….that word is coming…….. therapeutic! I was never any good at sewing or knitting and, the nearest I’d got to making anything crafty was over 40 years ago when I tried to make a woollen rug using one of those awful hook things!  Anyway the art or Rag Rugging is apparently ‘prodding’! A pointed (but not sharp), wooden ‘prodder’ is included in the kit (nice & smooth to hold in the hand I might add & with no chance of splinters!) One prods one end of the piece of fabric through a hole in a base fabric of hessian until halfway through & then prods the other end in to form a looped ‘stitch’ (I did turn the preprepared bag inside out first so that the ends were actually on the inside of the bag (outside once turned back the right way!) I continued to prod with my first colour of cloth pieces (there are 3 colours included in the pack which compliment each other well).  Once I had placed all the 1st colour into the hessian, I added the 2nd.  I still managed to follow the TV program so knew that this could be a very pleasant way of creating something whilst watching TV.

Evening 3 and the final colour was to be placed.  I turned the bag inside out and was amazed at how well it had gone – no planning, just random placing of the different colours and yet it looked so good! Imagine how good it could look with a little planning ahead!
I placed the small bag of lavender inside – packed it out with some old, clean tights & then, very professionally (not), stitched the open side of the bag to form a small cushion.  Voila! I had created something! The decision was made to include these kits on the website for others to enjoy the experience.  They are made from totally recycled fabrics and the kits are made in the UK. What more could we ask? 

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