On Friday at the Community Media Lab, I had the pleasure of helping the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce set up a Twitter account. I had met with Executive Director Art Trapp and Project Coordinator Mary Alice Smith a week earlier to inquire about presenting information about the CML to the chamber’s membership at a breakfast meeting. First they needed more information, so I talked to them about my ideaLab project, the Community Media Lab, offered examples of how we have helped local business owners write press releases and set up social media accounts, and showed them a video about the lab. By the time it was all said and done, not only had I sold them on the idea that I would be an informative speaker at their breakfast meeting, but they were interested in coming to the CML in Ypsilanti to set up a Twitter account for the chamber.
Before they arrived, I had emailed a list of possible Twitter handles to pique their interest. I came up with @SACC_Michigan, @SACC_BizNews, @SalineMiBiz, @SalineMichBiz, @SACC_News, @SalineChamberMI, @SalineBizNews, @YourSACC and @MichiganSACC. Former Saline Area Chamber of Commerce Director Larry Osterling already has the @SalineChamber Twitter handle, but he has never Tweeted anything and only has five followers.
Art and Mary Alice arrived in the late afternoon and had selected the Twitter handle @SalineChamberMI. It took less than an hour to set up the account, import the chamber’s logo, start following local businesses, community leaders and stakeholders, and explain how to create lists. We also sent out the chamber’s first Tweet. As of Monday morning, they had 20 followers and were following 54. I suggested they look at those following their hometown newspaper @SalineMilanNews, as well as followers of @SalineSchools and others in Saline with Twitter handles, to build their following. Once people are notified via email that you are following them, they usually follow back, and that’s how you build an audience. Mary Alice also posted on the chamber’s Facebook page that the chamber was on Twitter and shared a link, so people on Twitter could choose to follow.
@TheSalinePost was the first Twitter follower of the chamber to Tweet back, welcoming the chamber to the Twitterverse. I then showed Mary Alice how to “favorite” that particular Tweet. I also showed her the Twitter application on my iPhone, which makes it easier to manage your Twitter account, and I showed her how to direct message someone, retweet, search using @connect and proper use of the #hashtag symbol. I suggested they may want to use #business when Tweeting business news or #SalineMich for Saline news, and always use the @ sign along with a local businesses’ Twitter handle when mentioning them or speaking to them publicly.
The process wasn’t without a few snafus, however. For some reason, even though we went through the steps, we couldn’t get the chamber’s Facebook page to link properly to Twitter, so that the message will be Tweeted out every time they post on Facebook. I told Mary Alice, it could be she just needed to close the pages and reboot, so she will try later on her own. Also, the chamber’s logo with the name is rectangular and Twitter requires a square logo. We were able to use a square image of the swirl from the original logo, and I suggested Mary Alice ask chamber member DesignHub to create a Twitter background with the chamber’s full logo.
I was glad to help the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce establish a new marketing/promotional tool and, hopefully, I was able to share enough information about Twitter that they understand the value moving forward. I suggested they could Tweet out information about chamber events, community events, and feature a business each day. They could share links to local businesses’ websites, Facebook pages and Twitter pages, as well as share photos via TweetPic, There are so many ways for a local chamber to build and connect with their audience on social media. I am excited for the chamber to embrace Twitter, start conversations on it and continue the chamber’s efforts as a cheerleader and advocate for local businesses.