It’s been a crazy week full of digital events in Belfast so I’m rapidly trying to blog everything to share the learning with you!
First up, I wanted to write about this morning when I was honoured to be invited as a guest speaker for Twitter chat #BelfastHour ‘s 2nd birthday Business Breakfast event - to publish in time for tonight’s chat! (Thursdays 9-10pm)
Belfast Hour is a Twitter chat like so many that have emerged around the world, enabling local businesses and like-minded people of all themes and persuasions to network online, cross-sell their wares and just generally spread goodwill across the internet.
What makes Belfast Hour one of (if not the) best is not simply it’s sheer size (13,000+ followers at time of posting) but also the fact that it was started, and is still managed, by a particularly marketing-savvy and genuinely-lovely bunch of solicitors from Edwards & Company in Belfast City Centre.
The Edwards & Co team including Sean Kelly and Dorcas Crawford who were running today’s event, have taken the Twitter initiative and given it real sustainable value to the Northern Irish business community by managing weekly “host business giveaways” and organising real-life meet-ups, like this one.
Apple Business Support Team
The Apple Store itself turned out to be the perfect venue for a business breakfast.
Big enough to allow for networking yet intimate enough to provide good acoustics.
Their dedicated business team (AppleCare Business Support) were on hand to explain how they can help local businesses - a service I didn’t know they offered until we heard about it during the planning meeting.
I’m already a fan of Apple products (a Macbook was my first investment when I started my own business) and the brand’s willingness to host an event like this was great.
So, for those who couldn’t get tickets (because they sold out within an hour!) what did we chat about?
Dorcas expertly MC’d starting with asking Wayne and I to tell our stories of who we are and how we came to be in the digital space speaking at such an event.
Wayne talked about his initial social media invention back in the noughties that amassed tens of thousands of users through to his great work with young people nowadays on eSafety and his business training from Ireland to the Middle East.
He also mentioned his guide book for Online Reputation which is very good (I reviewed it back in January 2015 before I’d ever met him, so it’s an honest review!)
A must-read for every parent and teenager.
As someone who was thrust begrudgingly into freelance life, trying to market myself on a non-existent budget, but with years of experience PR-ing big business behind me; I really enjoyed the chance to share my story and support other small business owners to succeed.
Which is, coincidently, why I wrote my own book - now on sale to celebrate Belfast Hour’s birthday. You can buy it here.
Twitter Chats For Business
We then shared examples of how we have used Belfast Hour to benefit the growth of our own businesses.
My example was twofold - using it to source recommendations for service providers when writing the book - finding my local designer and proofreading this way (two people I’ve still yet to meet in person… that’s digital business for you!)
But also my great success in being a Belfast Hour host company for the book launch week, offering the first 2 copies of the book as a prize, resulting in my trending on Twitter and the book hitting a Top 5 list on Amazon in it’s first week.
I talk more about the digital marketing strategy behind the book launch in this previous blog post.
Top Tip For Social Media Marketing
Finally, Dorcas gave us the opportunity to share our top tip for promoting a business using social media tools like Twitter chats.
Wayne’s tip was obviously one I share; to use the channel more than just the hour during Twitter chats. Be around to engage whenever you can. Scheduling will help but it’s a social network because it’s about being social, and networking, with real people, in real-time.
Likewise I know that Wayne shares my belief that the attitude you bring to the Twitter table is as important as the work you do there.
We are proponents of the “Karma Currency” principle and so I recommend coming to Twitter chats armed with useful articles, top tips, recommendations or positive shout-outs to others as a way to give back in order to receive.
Goodwill will always come back to you in the online community.
There were great questions from the room and we chatted about everything from Twitter etiquette to whether or not we think brand publishing online will spell the end of traditional media!
I’m sure that Wayne, like myself, could have chatted all day if we didn’t have jobs to get to (and customers waiting to enter the Apple Store).
All-in-all, it was a great event and I hope everyone who attended felt the same.
I’m a big believer in what you can achieve online in terms of networking, marketing and business development with nothing more than a Mac and an internet connection.
But it is lovely to meet “Twitter friends” in real-life and it’s wonderful that Edwards & Company organise such events. I hope there will be more.
And as usual for Belfast Hour, the hashtag #BelfastHourAppleMeetup trended.
In the hours since the event to this evening I have had 3 invitations to be a guest speaker, found work experience for a student, been asked to write for a business newsletter, sold some books and caught up with a new client that I’ll be doing a marketing strategy for (who I initially met on Twitter.) Oh, and I gained another 40 Twitter followers.
That is the power of #BelfastHour