There is a very good reason I put #Bizitalk and not “Bizitalk”, you might have heard of it before but if you haven’t Bizitalk is a Twitter hashtag phenomenon launched in March 2012 it was trending in just 11 days and generates 1000s tweets every day promoting small businesses in the UK. I thought Adrian would be the perfect person to ask questions about the relationship between Twitter and small businesses and how you can get your own viral hashtags trending. Between emails Adrian goes sorry Oliver I was quite #bizi, very clever Adrian!
Oliver: Could you start by telling me a bit about yourself?
Adrian: The best way for this Oliver is for you to take a look at my Linkedin profile. http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=41303330&trk=tab_pro
Oliver: So where did the idea for Bizitalk come from? Whose idea was it?
Adrian: I first started Bizitalk back in 2004 when it was launched as a speed dating platform for business. I then had to concentrate on other businesses so it remained on the back burner for some years until I thought of the idea of launching a hashtag on twitter whilst having a pint in the local pub in March 2012 and thinking of how to give small and micro businesses more support.
Oliver: Can you tell me any interesting facts/stats about #bizitalk?
Adrian: After having the idea I came home and posted the idea of using #bizitalk in tweets and we would then retweet them. See post on www.forum.bizitalk.com Bizitalk Re-Talk.
Oliver: How did you get Bizitalk going to be as big as it is now? How long did it take, what methods did you use?
Adrian: It trended 11 days after the first post and has grown steadily since that night in March. The only method used was to tweet and retweet small business on twitter, engage with them and support them.
Oliver: What advice would you give to anyone wishing to send a viral message through social media on a small or non-existing budget?
Adrian: Use twitter. It costs nothing. Tweet sensible tweets with only one or two hashtags in them. Not too much blue!. Engage with other tweeters. Rt them frequently – you make instant friends that way. You will then be RT’d and your following will grow quickly. Don’t do a hard sell on all tweets. Don’t rely on automated tweets – people don’t like them. Don’t keep asking for followers or likes on your FB page. People get fed up with it. Engage 90% of the time – sell 10% of the time – but nicely. There is a nice way of putting it – don’t over sell.
Oliver: Why should businesses be on Twitter? Is it even worth it?
Adrian: It’s the best SM out there for small business. The jury is very much out on Facebook. People are getting fed up with it and the general opinion is it is not much good for B2B and only some good in B2C.
Oliver: How does and has Bizitalk helped businesses on Twitter so far?
Adrian: Read the hundreds of testimonials on the Bizitalk – ReTalk post on the forum. Lots more followers, more good contacts, more business and a much higher profile.
Oliver: Is Twitter best for businesses to promote themselves right now? Or what about Google + and Facebook?
Adrian: Facebook see above. Google+ has it’s admirers but believe twitter is the up and coming one.
Oliver: Your “Bizitalk the next steps” intrigues me, can you tell me anything about where the website is headed?
Adrian: The website will be going in to Beta testing by the Founder Members on 4th Feb. It is a great mix of social media and business and we believe is a unique platform for small business to chat with other small businesses, pick up tips, share and learn. What is certainly unique is that every paying member of Bizitalk will also become a shareholder in Bizitalk Ltd. The website will evolve all the time and change according to member’s wishes and demands. It will work on the same democratic principle as twitter. All members can have their say and we will be listening to them.
Oliver: What have you seen since you started the Bizitalk campaign that has surprised you, or intrigued you about social media and small businesses?
Adrian: There is a huge hole out there for small business. Start up micro businesses have very little money or experience and are often left floundering. Despite all the trumpeting by Govt and other bodies there is very little practical or moral support. They can’t afford to pay lots of money for expensive web sites or SEO. How do they get on google top pages? How do they get their message out there? Many have to exist on very little turnover for a long time until they may get lucky and make it! Social media is free and can be great for them – if used correctly and if they put the time in. But many just fill their tweets or messages on FB etc with junk and dozens of links which nobody takes any notice of. Sensible, lucid, uncluttered messages are what is needed with engagement of others and some humour helps a great deal.
Oliver: Social media is truly powerful and everyone uses social media but is it that simple that you could start a business using social media to promote to any target market and do well at it with a bit of effort or is social media for business something that is completely different to the way in which the general public use it on a day to day basis?
Adrian: It is different to the usual general public traffic – what did you have for breakfast chats – but with a bit of thought it can work very well for small business. The vast majority of the population work for small business – we are all consumers – we’re all in the same boat.
Oliver: Do you feel that Twitter in its current form is sufficient for small businesses with the mix of celebrity gossip etc… does it not get all confusing? Should there not be a distinguishable place for both?
Adrian: #bizitalk has possibly already achieved that. All you have to do is just follow the #bizitalk twitter stream and you don’t see the celebrity gossip and idle chit chat. That is all cut out as almost all #bizitalk tweets are about, or relate to, business. The Bizitalk team just follows the #bizitalk stream and is not distracted by what Justin Bieber or Queen Beckham is wearing today or next week.