Since some of my regular visitors and blog subscribers own, operate, or work in the antiques business, I thought I’d take a momentary diversion to address the use of Twitter in the business of antiques. This will also be of interest to you if you aren’t in the business and have been hearing about Twitter but don’t yet “get it”.
If you don’t know what Twitter is (or you do and aren’t using it) and you’re in the business of selling/auctioning antiques, you are missing the boat on a great free resource for gaining additional exposure to your customers.
Think of Twitter as a short and concise (hard-limit at 140 characters long) message that you write and broadcast to anyone who has signed up to “follow” your Twitter messages (tweets).
Imagine broadcasting when a special new item has been added to your inventory or notifying (or reminding) your followers of a particular event (e.g. sale) coming up. Sending a tweet takes about 10 seconds and even less to receive and consume. It can be initiated from any computer or even your cell phone.
If you’re thinking that it sounds like email could accomplish the same thing, there are a few key differences:
- The 140-character limit – it forces you to be quick and to the point. You won’t lose your followers’ attention span with your verbosity (you can’t be verbose in 140 characters) and the small format means you don’t need to spend hours crafting a formal newsletter or nicely-formatted email.
- By definition, “followers” are those who have “opted-in” to receiving your potentially frequent tweets. Your Twitter followers realize that this “micro-blogging” platform can mean very frequent updates – sometimes many in a single day. Contrast that to email – if you blasted multiple emails a day (or even a week) to your newsletter opt-in list, you’d get a lot of unsubscribers.
Fontaine’s has been doing a good job at leveraging Twitter already – they have 883 followers as I write this. In an industry where cutting-edge technology adoption lags a bit, 883 followers for Fontaine’s proves that the antiques biz can make good use of the latest technology trends.
Let me show you their latest tweet:
MAY 9th 2009 http://bit.ly/15nbMa Auction Reminder – A dealers dream auction, no online bidding, no phone bids, no reserves!
Not only is Fontaine’s using Twitter to reach their auction’s audience in real-time, they are using another internet trend within their tweets – url shortening. See that cryptic stuff near the beginning of their tweet (http://bit.ly/15nbMa), that is a “shortened” url. With 140 character limit in a tweet, you don’t have room for a url that looks like this:
So they have used the “bit.ly” url-shortening service. bit.ly takes any web address that you type in and shortens it to about 20 characters. Not only is Fontaine’s notifying followers of what’s happening, but they are also giving them a link to go read more. See how Fontaine’s is using Twitter here. Go see about bit.ly here.
I have a Twitter account for Rare Victorian here, which I welcome you to follow. I just haven’t used it too much to-date since I can reach you as often as I like through my blog, but you may see me ramp up usage in the future.
Hopefully this enlightens those of you who haven’t delved into the depths of Twitter yet. You can read more about Twitter mixing with the antiques world in this article at the Antique Week website.
P.S. – You want to see example of Twitter being used in another industry? What industry is better suited for short real-time updates than the mortgage lending business? If you’re a mortgage writer like Dan Green, you can tweet out the swings of the mortgage market as it is happening. Dan has almost 2,000 Twitter followers and I’m sure a good number of them are potential customers following him for when he tweets their magic mortgage rate having been hit. Dan’s Twitter page is here.