Twitter is a misunderstood medium for some, so I wanted to share with you how I use it and why.  When I arrived in Australia, I didn’t know anyone in Brisbane, so I started talking on Twitter (or tweeting to use the correct term).  Imagine you’ve arrived at a party alone and the host is busy, so http://www.flickr.com/photos/respres/3231178720/ what do you do?  You might grab a beverage, look around the room, and gravitate toward a group that sounds like they’re having an interesting conversation.  You listen to what they’re talking about and if there’s an opportune moment, you may wish to join in.  This is the essence of Twitter – a way for you to connect with people and have great conversations.  Some of them may turn into your customers in the future, but making money should not be your primary focus (more on that later).  The conversations enable you to learn from others and to share with others – news, blog posts, articles, pictures, and videos that interest you.   

It has been well documented that people buy from people they connect with and in having conversations on Twitter, people (tweeps) start to form a picture of who I am and what I do.  If they like me – my mission, my philosophy, my personality – they may buy from me in time.  However, do remember that this is a long-term marketing strategy.  Do not be tempted to broadcast from Day 1 what tea you sell and promotions you have.  It would almost be like entering the aforementioned party, and shouting “My name is May King Tsang, I am the founder of MayKing Tea, and I sell tea!”  You wouldn’t do that at a real party and I discourage you from doing that on Twitter.  I learned from that mistake early on in my business.

We may have heard that it would take three lifetimes to learn everything about tea and since I believe that this is my first life in the tea world, I still have a lot to learn.  So I turn to Twitter and I have met some amazing tea people from the U.S., Europe, most of the tea-producing nations, and Australia, including Debbie Huff, who very kindly interviewed me for her wonderful tea blog and interviews many interesting people in the tea industry.  Some of the photographs are absolutely beautiful and I have learned a great deal from her blog, including this article about social media.  Needless to say, I learn from some wonderful tea people at T Ching and I can use Twitter to share (retweet) the articles to the people who are listening to my conversations (followers). 

Twitter is predominantly about sharing and I swelled with pride as a BBC (British Born Chinese) when I found out (via Twitter) that in response to the August riots up and down the UK, #riotcleanup was http://www.flickr.com/photos/nika/3396542642/born.  Strangers came out to help businesses, homes, and communities that were damaged by rioters, some helped to raise funds to help people get back on their feet, and some even challenged the rioters on the streets.  Living in Brisbane, I felt helpless that I couldn’t join my fellow friends and neighbors with the clean-up; but with Twitter, I could contribute by retweeting where people were congregating for #riotcleanup and where people could send donations. 

A former reality TV show celebrity encouraged people on Twitter to stay in and drink tea during the riots.  Operation Cup Of Tea was born and within a few days, over 200,000 fans on Facebook endorsed his philosophy and millions of people on Twitter around the world were talking about #operationcupoftea.   This celebrity set up a website within days to sell tea, announcing that all the money raised would help those affected by the rioters.  I’m not sure how much money has been raised, but you can see how powerful Twitter can be in such a short space of time.  (More details about the charity can be found here, which I shared with my followers at the time.)

Some amazing opportunities have presented themselves to me as a direct result of my tweets with people, including being able to assist others in starting their tea businesses, helping tea businesses get started on Twitter, and even writing an article that is featured in this year’s Australian Tea Guide.

If you are still unsure about the power of Twitter, I invite you to contact me and we can have a chat about how it can help you.  The Twitter tea community is a wonderful one and I invite you to join me for a tweetersation some time!  Raising a cup of #tea to you all!  Tweet Tweet!!

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