Friday 4 February 2011

Tips for the Twitter-curious. 6: Bringing Twitter to your doorstep.

Hi there.

We're now on to the 6th installment of Tips for the Twitter-curious where so far, for many of you, each lesson has brought with it a trek into new, undiscovered land! But today I'll demonstrate how staying close to home on Twitter can be just as important as discovering new territory.

And when it comes to staying 'local' .... you're each your own expert:

So you've joined Twitter, and suddenly you've got access to millions of interesting people's thoughts and just as many sources of fascinating events to attend and breaking news stories from across the globe. You're now alerted the very minute it begins snowing in New York or when a train's broken down on the London to Manchester line.

All of which is certainly useful information, except ... you might not live anywhere near London let alone New York ... and all this information filling up your Timeline can begin to feel redundant.

If so, it may just be possible that, while you've been building your Twitter contacts, you've omitted a whole section of people who've been tweeting right under your nose:
  • the locals;
  • your neighbourhood;
  • your regional network.

What kinds of local information would be useful to you?

Think about the kind of practical information that you've seen people sharing on Twitter already plus the suggestions for who to Follow that I've covered in previous lessons. Things such as:

  • sources of up-to-date news;
  • newspaper headlines and articles;
  • people whose work you admire;
  • influential tweeters;
  • sources of possible assistance and promotion to your business / career;
  • Details of events related to your hobbies etc.
Now take all of those aspects and apply them to the region you live in:
  • How much more applicable does it all seem now?
  • How much more relevant is that breaking news flash?
  • How much more accessible do some of those people seem?
  • How much greater are the chances you'll be able to attend those events?


It's a bit like what I was saying about the six-degrees of separation idea in Lesson 5 - if you begin collecting together the accounts of people and businesses who are within driving / bus trip /walking distance from you ... you're so much more likely to feel the direct benefit of the Twitter network.

Types of local accounts to consider Following.

  • Begin with the individual websites of the local places and people you might already have in your Internet favourites or reader and scour their pages for a link to Twitter.
  • There are many different categories of tweets you might want to consider ... here are just a few based on my own preferences ...


Consider places such as:

  • Your favourite restaurants and clubs;
  • Local theatre, galleries and event spaces;
  • Places to visit on a day trip:

In Following these types of accounts you are in a position to hear about the latest special offers, performances; discounts; schedules etc etc as this is exactly why these places would have a Twitter account in the first place- to get you into their establishment.

If you take advantage of them reaching out to you - then everyone's happy! Win, win.

You could search for:

  • Your local MP - many politicians use Twitter to maintain a presence with their constituents;
  • Your local schools, colleges, Universities;
  • Radio stations and newspapers;
  • Local entrepreneurs and business owners;
  • Even your local bus and rail providers.

One clear example I've seen which brough together a few of these types of account was during the heavy snow we had here in the UK last year. Over that period I saw many tweets and RTs coming through containing information on:

  • Road closures and travel advice;
  • Bus and train timetable disruptions;
  • School closures;
  • Closure of my work place!
  • Links to forecasts and weather warnings.

As I've said, you can search the actual websites of each company / individual to discover their Twitter address and then begin Following them. But this will only lead you to those people/places you already know ... let me now suggest some places to find equally useful accounts which you may not have considered.

Tapping into interesting local accounts you didn't know you existed!

A great place to begin is with the profile page of your local University [I work in mine - so it began as an obvious choice for me]. This then what started me off on my quest to build a nearby network and led me to create with my Twitter list dedicated to 'Regional and Local' twitters.

  • Visit the University profile page;
  • Look at who they follow - they will no doubt be linked into lots of other local businesses, industries, community groups and leaders; venues etc etc
  • Begin following the ones who may come in useful to you at a later date;
  • Make a List to keep them all in [more details on Lists in Lesson 3].
  • Even check out who Follows them too.

Also - while were on the subject ...

  • did you go to University?
  • If you did, are you Following your Alumni Association on Twitter?

  • They're a great contact to have, especially if you have a business etc you want to promote. In my experience these associations are always looking for stories about their alumnus. Let's face it - that's one of the main reasons they exist.
  • They're highly likely to RT a relevant tweet of yours if you're a past student!

If you don't think Universities are somewhere you'll find interesting connections, then just follow the same process with any large regional business, organisation, charity, gallery etc etc It's amazing how many interesting people I've discovered using this method who I would never have known existed otherwise.

It was using this method which led me to several Twitter accounts whose sole purpose is to discuss things happening my the region:

It's definitely worth looking around for a broad regional accounts like this as they can do a lot of the 'leg-work' for you, in drawing together all the latest local points of interest.

  • Again, they're another good account to approach when you have something you want to promote;
  • They're usually happy to promote - by retweeting - the good news and enterprise etc from their region.

My Twitter success story - and how you might do the same.

Itwas seeing a retweet by an account similar to the one above which led me to getting an online class I co-hosted last year featured in my local paper:

This is how quickly things can happen through Twitter:

One morning:

  • I noticed a general call out, [retweeted by a larger local organisation I followed] fom the Family Editor of the newspaper, for Christmas crafting ideas.
  • Our class sign-up details had all just been released on our Copy + Paste blog so I sent the journalist a link to it straight away for her consideration;
  • I also began following her;

Half an hour or so later:

  • She'd begun Following me; and
  • then she sent me a direct message asking for my phone number;

By that afternoon:

  • She'd called;
  • She interviewed me over the phone, told me how much she loved the idea of our class and gave me the phone number of the picture desk.

By the end of the following week:

  • I'd had a professional photographer come to my house and take a ton of photos in a vast variety of poses! [None of which were any less embarrassing than those below!

A fotnight later:

  • Me plus a full write up of the class - and my pom poms - appeared in print!

I hope this has given you a more concrete idea of how Twitter can help you draw attention to your current ventures. By contacting the right people in your area you suddenly grow into a big fish in a little pond:

  • On Twitter, when generally tweet about my latest uploads to my etsy shop, or try to reach a wide audience with my blog posts ... those tiny tweets drop into an ocean of similar promo efforts.
  • While my co-host @KirstyNeale and I were not the first or only people advertising their online craft workshops on Twitter ... it's likely that I was the only one doing so in my area;
  • And I was certainly the only one drawing it to the attention of a journalist of my local newspaper!
  • Online classes are 10-a-penny to those within the creative network I've built up online ... they're a unique concept to most of the people in the wider community.

Focussing on 'local' can make you unique without having to change anything you already do! It just changes the pairs of eyes who view it!

I hope today has broadened your idea of how to use Twitter in a different way and the possible opportunities it may bring you. So for today why not:

  1. Seek out some local contacts and add them on Twitter;
  2. Browse through the Following / Followers of some large regional entities and see if there's anyone you find interesting;
  3. Make a List for your local tweeters;
  4. Make a note somewhere in your diary / business plan etc to remind you to approach a local journalist / paper / influential figure / regional-focussed tweeter the next time you have something to promote.

As usual, I'd love to hear your thoughts, suggestions or experiences based on today's topic.

If you want to discuss anything about 'going local' with me and your fellow 'curious' then leave them in the comments below - or hop over and tweet me.

I'll be back with another lesson on Monday - and might drop in over the weekend with something papery-based and entirely unrelated to Twitter!

See you soon.



  1. Following my local council has been very handy, I know when the bins were going to be emptied when we had all the snow, what local events are on, what roads have been closed etc. Through their RTs I know follow several people who give info on other local events that are going on which comes in very handy during the holidays.

  2. wonderful ideas and posts Julie. I have not yet really entered the world of twitter or facebook, only marginally. It does seem like a great marketing tool but for me right now it also sucks too much time I would use doing crafty things. perhaps it's an age thing? I feeling younger at 44 than I did at 27 but maybe it has something to do with my lack of grasp? anyway-excellent job!

  3. Mmmmh...very of to look at Twitter now....Excellent post! Kirsti xxx


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