Monday, March 2, 2009

Making It: Got Twitter?

I'm so excited to reintroduce the second edition of Making It! The format will be slightly different from the first but I think you'll enjoy it just the same! I've invited a couple of talented sellers to become regular contributors to Heart Handmade, and every other week they'll introduce a new topic/issue that's near and dear to our hearts such as Getting Press/Putting together a press kit, Twitter and the importance of social networking, Running multiple shops from Etsy to Artfire etc.

I'm so psyched to introduce our first contributor, the lovely Cassie of Clementine...

I create handcrafted jewelry in my home studio in the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts. I love drinks in big glasses, watching the sunset as often as I can, weeding the garden (seriously, it's therapeutic), and really bad tv (Dancing with the Stars? Yep. Rock of Love? Third time's the charm! The Bachelor? Hells, yeah.)

By Cassie Gray

I’m just going to go ahead and admit it: I really didn’t want to join Twitter. I don’t know about you, but I find the number of must-join social networking sites to be overwhelming. First there was MySpace. Then StumbleUpon. Then Flickr, Facebook, Wists, StyleFeeder…Ack! Once Twitter gained popularity, I threw up my hands: Enough. I wasn’t going to do it. Of course, slowly but surely, I realized that Twitter was everywhere—some of my favorite bloggers were on Twitter—and I was going to have to join. It’s said that, used wisely and well, Twitter can drive traffic and significantly improve your business—and that’s what it’s all about, right?

>> click here to continue reading Making It: Got Twitter?

Setting up an account is pretty straightforward. Rule #1: Add a profile pic right away. It will help solidify you in the minds of all the other Twitter folk as an actual person—which is, in fact, the whole point of Twitter. I also found it really easy (actually, amazingly easy) to customize my profile page with my own photo background and custom colors. Personally, I love coming across users who’ve made their profile page their own, so I wanted to do the same. Once I felt happy with my page (don’t forget to add your URL to your profile!), I started “following” people, mostly fellow Etsy folks and my favorite bloggers. For instance, if you visit the profiles of Marichelle or myself, you’ll find a grid of all the people we “follow”—mouse over the pics for their names, click to get their profiles, and then click “follow” to start getting a feed of their tweets. You’ll probably find many names you recognize this way.

Once you’re set up and have started following others, I would recommend downloading a Twitter application that will allow you to Tweet without having to have the site open in its own window all day long. This is actually the most amazing, innovative thing about the Twitter world for me. I downloaded TwitterFox, which is a Firefox extension.

It’s a pop-up that lives down at the bottom of your browser window. It updates with the number of new tweets every 5 minutes (or whatever interval you set it to) and allows you to reply and create new tweets from the pop-up, without ever having to open a new browser page to access Twitter directly. Brilliant! There are other add-ons that do similar things: Twitterific and TweetDeck seem to be the most popular.

There are lots of other Twitter applications that I haven’t utilized yet: Tweetlater lets you fill out an automatic “direct message” to every user who adds you to their “follow” list. I think automatic direct messages are pretty controversial, so I haven’t added this, but others swear by using an auto message to greet a new twitter follower. Twellow lets you find other users in the same business or niche as you. TwitDir is a directory of Twitter users that lists categories of users, like the 100 people or the top 100 updaters. Twittercounter shows you how your followers grow daily and projects your number of followers into the future. And Karma allows you to see who you’re following and whether they’re following you in return—allowing you to delete users who are not following you once you get to the first 2000 followers (a crucial threshold in Twitterland—I think it will be a long time before I need to use this app).

So, this is all well and good, right, but what the heck are we supposed to use twitter for? I have to admit, this is the part that I’m still figuring out. Right now, I’m just doing what comes naturally: replying to others when they say something that resonates with me (whether it’s about business, or music, or the wine they’re drinking with dinner). And when I add something new to my shop, I tweet it. One idea for using Twitter to increase traffic is to hold Twitter-specific contests: trivia contests, scavenger hunts, and more. I can imagine a time when I might offer 25% off for the next five people who tweet an item from my shop, for example.

But the most compelling aspect of Twitter is that every post is confined to 140 words. That means it takes a lot less effort to update it every day than your facebook, your blog, even your Etsy shop. 140 words characters (max!) a day is all you need. And the possibilities are endless. So endless that if you go to Amazon and search “twitter” you’ll find dozens of books on how to use Twitter to your benefit. Admittedly, this makes Twitter all the more overwhelming. So I’m just taking it one step at a time, learning a tip or two as I go, and trying to stay true to myself and my voice. And if you’re interested in delving deeper, Twitter Tips is chock full of really great, really interesting articles on utilizing Twitter. So….. hopefully I’ll see you on Twitter soon—add me at

Visit Cassie:,

Next time on Making It! >>
Getting press and developing your own press kit.


Suzanne said...

This is great! I was trying to resist joining as well, but I recently caved. Still trying to get the hang of it so this info is very useful - thank you!

Marichelle said...

Thanks for this article Cassie - I think there's still lots of people out there who haven't taken the plunge and somehow I kind of envy them. I'm definitely overwhelmed with all this stuff and trying hard not to get too burned out, if that's even possible at this point...

Clementine said...

I hear you about getting burnt out. I think it helps to wait until you're sure a site or an application is going to be essential before jumping in. I've got so many abandoned profiles in different places. If you're more selective, you could have just twitter and flickr and facebook and perhaps not feel so overwhelmed (I'm just thinking of all those profiles and shops out there with my name on them, on myspace, mintd, shophandmade, stumbleupon, even dawanda to a certain extent--that I'm not using.)

Christine said...

I have a hard time Twittering... I love my blog so much more.

But I have found that Twittering a message about a new item in my Etsy shop gets tons of views in a matter of seconds. (No sales from this yet, but that's ok.)

Thanks for the tips. I love the Twitterfox add-on!

♥ xtine

noodle and lou said...

Hi Marichelle! I just discovered you through your DARLING houses on the front page of etsy! (yay!!!)

Have a great week:)

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you brought this feature back and with a great subject too! Twitter is my latest obsession. I was also very skeptical about it but now find I get more views on my Etsy page as a result.

Can't wait to read more!

Marichelle said...

hi xtine! Thanks for stopping by. I too have a love and hate relationship w/ Twitter :)
Hi Jenn!! Thanks so much!
Hi Marilyn, glad you like this column - I think it's in very safe hands this season!
Thanks again for starting us off Cassie! ps. you were already famous :)

Melissa said...

Thanks for this post. I'm on Twitter but didn't know about all of those apps. I just deleted my MySpace because I don't use it. I'm not on Facebook. I just use Twitter and Flickr. But I'm not on Flickr as much as I would like to be.

I also have an two Etsy shops and one Artfire shop. It's really hard to keep up.

Marianne said...

"But the most compelling aspect of Twitter is that every post is confined to 140 words."

Uh...what? It's 140 characters, not 140 words. Big difference.

The important thing to remember with Twitter is that pushing out marketing messages (i.e. shop listings) is not enough. You have to add value to the community. I've been madly unfollowing Etsy/Artfire people who simply use Twitter to push out shop listings. It's tiresome and doesn't respect the whole purpose of social media, which is to have conversations and build community. More here:

Clementine said...

ack, so sorry for the mistake, of course it's 140 characters.

I agree, I don't like when sellers use twitter as a place where they only announce their newest listing. I think I tried to make it clear that twitter is about making connections with others, whether it's about business or anything else.

Marichelle said...

hi Marianne, thanks for pointing that out - I've changed the article. And as for your other point, I completely agree with both you and Cassie but also appreciate the fact that most people just don't have the time to add value or as you put it "respect" the social media aspect of twitter and the likes. Personally speaking, I believe there's room for both. Sometimes I like seeing that a favorite artist/blogger has a new listing or post and that's all I really expect from their feed.

Marianne said...

On one hand, if you don't have time to put some personal attention into your Twitter feed, then maybe it's not the best channel for you. But if you're pushing out shop listings and people choose to follow you, then more power to you.

However I think that encouraging your fans/customers to follow your shop via RSS is a million times more effective, because then they see pictures of your lovely items. A Tweet like "just listed: garnet and quartz earrings" doesn't mean much to me, but photos are seductive. I guess I just think Twitter is a medium ill-suited to the task of pushing out marketing messaging. But if it works for you, then great.

Hillsy said...

Both can work.

Dell has proven that product-led marketing works via Twitter. They attribute over $1m in sales to their initiative of offering Twitter followers exclusive discounts on Dell products. Money still talks, irrespective of the medium.

On the other hand, Twitter can be an effective way of building a brand if somebody takes the time to cultivate a Twitter page that people want to follow. There has to be some kind of pay-off though.

The biggest opportunity is Twitter Search. Ultimately this will grow to be an in-direct - yet real - threat to Google. Searching Twitter conversations in real time for everything from brands, to products to people is a very powerful idea.

Ultimately though, Twitter needs to figure out how to make money - and the only way that will happen is via brands and products. Having 100 million people engaged in pleasant conversations is nice, but it doesn't pay the bills. Just ask Facebook or YouTube.