Earlier this week, as you will have seen in my previous post, I attended The Cake Professionals Conference, during which, I attended an intensive coaching session called ‘Be Your Own PR Agent’, led by Kate Beavis of Your Vintage Life.
During the workshop, Kate talked about the awesome networking properties available on Twitter, which regular readers will know that I have also written about at length in the past. In fact, for the longest of times, I have been a huge advocate of the power of Twitter for both professional networking and professional development opportunities and I think it would be fair to say that many of the amazing opportunities that I have had during my caking career, from appearing on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice through to opportunities to collaborate with brands and organisations, have come my way through interactions that primarily started on Twitter.
During Kate’s workshop, I actually verbalised the fact that, in my experience, many cakers do not seem to use Twitter particularly religiously, which seemed to resonate with the rest of the group. As a result, I thought it might finally be time to get started on a project that I have been thinking about for the longest of times now.
With regards to Twitter in particular, I am incredibly aware that when you first join the platform, it can seem a little bit tricky to wrap your head around so many aspects of it.
Who should I be following? How do I get people to see my tweets? How do hashtags work? How do I get people to follow me and to interact with me? How can I use this time productively to actually grow my business and develop my professional network?
With so many perceived obstacles, I can completely understand why so many people are discouraged from persevering with it.
I am incredibly lucky that I joined Twitter right in the early days of the site (thanks to my brother) and, although I initially used it purely for personal social networking, these early experiences made the transition to setting up a professional account an awful lot easier to do, particularly as I was able to bring a lot of my followers with me.
However, alongside this, in the early days of Twitter, one of the best ways that I found to expand my professional and social networks on the platform was to join in with weekly hashtag events, such as #bakershour, #cupcakehour and so on.
With that in mind, I thought it might be useful to launch a brand-new weekly networking opportunity for cake professionals (and keen amateurs too) over on Twitter, which will hopefully allow us to connect with each other, break down some of the initial barriers to getting started on the platform and hopefully let us have some fun at the same time!
To get involved, you will obviously need a Twitter account and I would suggest that you have a profile purely dedicated to your business. If you already have a personal account, set up another one. As with all aspects of PR and marketing, you want your Twitter to tell people who you are, what you do and where you do it, and a dedicated profile will do that far better. Your username should be as close to your business name as it can be (hopefully without a gazillion numbers after it) and if you can match it to your other platforms (e.g. Instagram), even better.
This is what my profile looks like and, although I am not suggesting for a moment that mine is a perfect example, you will see that it does indeed give you a very quick overview of who I am, what I do and where I do it. It also links people to my website (quite literally WHERE I do what I do) and I also have a picture of me DOING what I do. Cake pics are great and all, but personally, I like to see who I am chatting to, so I would suggest a profile picture of yourself – a headshot or similar – and then use the pictures of your fabulous cake creations as your profile header.
Once you are set up on the platform, be sure to come and find me – my username is @mrbakerscakes.
The next thing will be to come and get involved in #cakershour.
My plan is that we will meet one evening a week – on Twitter – for an hour… (hence #cakershour) giving us all a chance to get to know similar businesses in our industry and build our professional networks by connecting with them. In fact, it is important to note that all of my discussions here are about building your professional network. I don’t advocate Twitter as a tool for finding customers – save that for Facebook and Instagram.
The structure of the #cakershour will be fairly loose to begin with, to let us get to know each other and allow you guys to get used to the Twitter platform, but my plan is that each week will have a theme (which I hope you guys will begin to suggest as we move forward) and I will share some discussion points in advance, in the form of questions, to allow us to structure our sessions effectively.
These will allow you guys to share your own knowledge and experiences within the industry and hear advice from others too. It’ll be important to interact with each other – don’t just talk about your own experiences, but comment on others as well – ask questions, share your thoughts and opinions on situations and hopefully make some new friends and form some new professional networks in the process. You will be able to follow as many or as few of those taking part as you want to, building relationships, which will hopefully encourage you to continue using the platform in between our weekly #cakershour sessions too.
Where possible, I will try and encourage other organisations which may be able to provide useful perspectives and insights on key topics (such as marketing, working with the press/media, legal issues, etc.) to come and join in, but I am keen to not be too prescriptive about what each weekly session will look like, as, like all of the best social media content, I want it to be something that grows and develops organically, responding to the needs of the group as a whole.
That is pretty much my vision for #cakershour. What do you think? Does it sound like something that you would find useful to help you grow your business? I do hope so! To get started, we will first need to agree a suitable day of the week and a time that we think this would work for as many of us as possible.
My initial thought was to hold #cakershour at 9:00pm, every Wednesday evening as this will mean that most of us will (hopefully) have stopped work for the night, the children will be in bed and it will be a chance to wind down and just have a good chat before retiring ourselves… what do people think?
If that doesn’t work for the majority, then let me know ASAP, as once we have the date and time locked down, I will be able to announce the details of our first session (including a quick video introduction to Twitter for any of you who would like a bit more guidance on how to get started on the platform).
I do hope that #cakershour is something that can really take off and really capture the same spirit of connection and collaboration that we were able to see at The Cake Professionals Conference earlier this week, because, as Henry Ford said:
If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.
So yes, get in touch, let me know if Wednesdays at 9:00pm works for you and hopefully I will see you there…
Until next time, happy caking!