Small Business Spotlight: Twitter Tips from Ian Winget of Napa Valley Bitters
Every day, Ian Winget, owner of Napa Valley Bitters, meets new people and connects with potential customers all over the world. He does it from his mobile phone, using Twitter. And it takes less time than you’d think.
“I’m probably on Twitter 10, maybe 15, minutes a day,” he said. “My overall approach is pretty straightforward: I try not to push communication, but to really use it as an interaction.”
Not only has Ian landed some major clients through his Napa Valley Bitters Twitter account, but he also thanks the social media platform for helping him get his bitters company off the ground in the first place.
Ian began using Twitter personally in 2008 when it was brand new; so new that even the early-adopter companies hadn’t discovered it as a marketing tool. “People were mostly using it for mundane personal updates like, ‘I’m at the gas station filling up my car,’” he recalls.
As the business world caught on to the advantages of using Twitter, Ian started a more professional Twitter account for his consulting company, too. Then, when he decided to launch his craft bitters company, he leveraged his existing Twitter followers to help support a Kickstarter campaign to raise seed money for the venture.
Over the years, Ian has become so familiar with the Twitter platform that he’s learned how to use it as an effective marketing tool without letting it suck up too much of his time.
Here are Ian’s top tips for using Twitter to promote a small business:
Follow people in your industry. Ian follows as many craft cocktail professionals and enthusiasts as he can. This allows him to stay on top of important industry news and trends. According to Ian, “It’s not just talking, but listening.” If he sees something especially interesting or pertinent, he’ll reTweet it.
— Fuenteseca Tequila (@Fuenteseca_) March 18, 2014
— Napa Valley Bitters (@NapaBittersCo) March 18, 2014
Comment whenever possible. Even though Ian spends a minimal amount of time on Twitter, he tries not to miss out on timely conversations. He follows people on the East Coast and in Europe, so if he notices an interesting post early in the morning or late at night, he’ll join the conversation instead of waiting for a more convenient time to comment.
Build relationships. Ian’s goal is not just to amass Twitter followers and broadcast news to them. For him, it’s more about creating a dialogue with his followers, and those he follows. By doing this, he’s formed valuable relationships that have led to increased exposure for his company, and increased sales.
Never stray off message. Ian only posts things that relate to cocktails, bitters, and the craft movement. He tries to stay away from personal ramblings…but he admits that every now and then he can’t help himself.
Use visuals. Now that Twitter offers the ability to attach photos, Ian doesn’t miss an opportunity to make his Tweets stand out from the rest. He has landed three big accounts in the United Kingdom and two in the United States as a direct result of posting pictures of his products or favorite cocktails on Twitter.
— Napa Valley Bitters (@NapaBittersCo) January 25, 2014
Pay attention to your followers. Ian takes advantage of the “Notifications” and “Mentions” features that allow you to track your account activity. If he notices that a bartender has just started following him, for instance, he’ll make an effort to reach out to that person. It could lead to a new account, or at least a new relationship.