Just over a year ago, I was sitting taking notes (handwritten) at a Four Seasons Preferred Partners meeting in Nevis. Listening to the excellent presentations, I was struck by my colleague sitting next to me. Stacy Small (@EliteTravelGal), President and Founder of Elite Travel International, who was busy tweeting away. I knew of her success and after chatting with her and watching for that day, I knew that this was something I could no longer ignore.
I had never tweeted during my years at Smithsonian Journeys or during my brief time at Connoisseur. Like many, I was waiting to hire the perfect 20 year old to handle social media and outsource this task. Nor was I convinced that social media and high end luxury travel were perfect marketing partners. I was dead wrong on all fronts.
Sitting in my hotel room in Nevis, I set up my account, @jeanewmanglock (innovative yes?) and tentatively began sending some generic tweets. I was thrilled to wake up the next morning and find out I had over 20 followers. Obviously I was good at this, but on checking further, I saw I was good with the porn and bot market. Not my targets.
So I began my year on Twitter, Facebook ( and a little Google Plus). This was not rocket science, but it was nuanced marketing like none I had ever dealt with before. Thanks again here to Stacy, who graciously followed me back and retweeted some of my tweets, giving me instant credibility with her loyal followers. I also found an old friend, Marilyn Terrell ( Marilyn_Res), Chief Researcher for National Geographic Traveler and most respected on Twitter who has also been a mentor.
Fast forward and almost 28,000 followers later, all of my 2012 travels have been documented on Twitter and Facebook. Every site visit, meeting and excursion took on additional focus as I searched for the best hotels, restaurants and exclusive experiences to share with my growing list of followers in addition to clients. I began blogging on The Huffington Post about the same topics and further increased my reach.
Sounds fun, but you are asking, have you been able to monetize this project? Yes. Both directly with new international clients who never would have found me and indirectly by generating web traffic and publicity for my company.
So what did I learn? The list below is not a professional social media textbook. It is lessons I learned, starting from nothing, over the past year. Thanks to all my followers and particularly Stacy and Marilyn.
Lessons Learned by a novice:
1. There is no such thing as an exclusively personal or business Twitter account if your name is on it and if you are in any business
2. Every executive who interfaces with the public needs a personal Twitter account where your name, face and experience can be shared. Your personality needs to shine through. Corporate speak will fail miserably.
3. Do not outsource your Twitter account to an intern. It shows and your followers appreciate your personal observations and expertise, even if that means fewer tweets.
4. Have fun. I love tweeting with @JetBlue. We often banter as I wait for flights in the airport. Funny, quick and a little on the edge of "proper." I love their team.
5. Somewhere I read (and I apologize for forgetting the attribution) that a 40/40/20 split is good for your tweets. Forty percent original content, your own or what you are reading, 40 percent retweets of content you find valuable and 20 percent personal. I had the hardest time with the last, as I couldn't believe anyone cared about my personal life, dogs or commute problems. Besides, it would surely embarrass my kids. Perhaps it has, but I know I enjoy a glimpse of the same from those I follow so my followers now know my dogs' names and that two of my children were married this year.
6. Be honest. Your credibility is the most important thing you control. Don't risk it for any reason.
7. Follow back new tweeters and those with few followers and retweet their tweets. I was there just 12 months ago and know how much I appreciated it.
8. Follow those in your business but also those areas that interest you. There will be overlap. I follow most in travel, but also in Culinary, Design, Decorative Arts and of course social media.
9. If you are in any business, join Twitter now, same for Google Plus and Facebook. You are interesting to your targeted market if you are open and honest -- even vulnerable. You will build relationships that will offer returns, both monetary ROI and others.
Thanks to all my followers, it has been a fun year.