BTA lays claim to Bermuda Twitter handle
Bermuda Tourism Authority has snagged the prestigious Twitter handle @Bermuda.
The move is a clear sign of how important it can be for businesses and organisations to secure a Twitter account with a short and easy to remember name.
Previously the BTA's Twitter handle was the less obvious and more wordy @GoToBermuda.
In making the change it joins a growing list of Bermuda-linked organisations that have upgraded or streamlined their presence on the social media network.
For some it has been due to a change in circumstances for their business. When Catlin Group and XL Group merged in May they waved goodbye to their individual Twitter handles and now exist in the twitterverse as @XLCatlin.
In May, the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club switched its Twitter handle, dropping Fairmont from its name.
It is important for businesses and organisations to have relatively short, catchy and relevant Twitter account names, according to social media observers Coral Wells and Don Burgess.
“I would recommend a handle that is short and relevant to your company,” said Ms Wells, who works in the information technology field and is managing director of W&W Solutions Ltd.
While Mr Burgess, who has a strong interest in social media and is a former deputy editor of the Bermuda Sun, said: “You want to choose a name that represents what your business is. If your business has a longer name it is better to shorten it for Twitter.”
He explained that a long Twitter name gobbles up valuable characters in the network's 140-character restricted “tweet” messages.
While Ms Wells recommended that a new business setting up should research popular social media sites including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to see if its company name is available, and if not then to consider a new name for the business.
She added that having the same name across all social media platforms makes it easier for customers to find and follow you.
That is what the BTA is doing. The organisation's chief sales and marketing officer, Victoria Isley, said it wanted to “simplify and consolidate” its social media handles.
There are an estimated 500 million Twitter accounts worldwide, however around 200 million of those are classified as inactive.
The BTA identified the @Bermuda handle as an inactive account and managed to obtain it after contacting Twitter.
“Twitter and Facebook are cleaning up inactive accounts,” Ms Isley explained.
The switch has been in the works for a number of months. Ms Isley said the new moniker was “simpler and shorter”.
As for the value of Twitter in the BTA's overall marketing strategy for the Island, she said: “It's an important tool in the toolbox. It allows us to engage in conversations and to reward people for posting content and help them to plan a vacation.”
The organisation has kept the hashtag #GoToBermuda.
When asked why Twitter can be good for a business or organisation, Mr Burgess, whose personal account @DonBermuda has 27,000 followers, said: “Tweets and retweets are a good way to get marketing out there, and at some point in the future you will be able to buy directly from a tweet. That's something that is available in countries like the US.
“It's a good marketing tool and it's inexpensive.”
Meanwhile, Ms Wells recommends businesses keep their Twitter posts conversational and chatty, and not a constant sales pitch platform.
“You should keep active on your account and be chatty. You want to make sure that you are not always trying to sell your product,” she said.
“People want to have a conversation. You can't constantly sell, sell, sell. People want information about why they should follow you. You should also think about directing them to other sites, not always your own, where they can get further information.”
Doing it right can boost a business's brand and reputation, she said.
“It's all about engaging with your customers. And from an advertising perspective you can attract new customers.
“These days not everyone is reading the newspaper, but people are always on social media.
“Keep your messages sweet and short, and try to use images because that is going to attract people.”
She added: “To push people to engage with your company you want to include your website in some tweets and have it on your Twitter home page.”
Looking to the future, Mr Burgess acknowledged that many people have tried Twitter and then decided it was not for them, or they have been overwhelmed by the constant stream of messaging, something that is indicated by the many millions of inactive accounts. However, he pointed out there are tools to help people to better manage how they follow streams of tweets.
And while Twitter can be an effective marketing tool for business, he said some companies might do better on other social media platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest.
“It depends on the demographic you are trying to reach. A lot of people are using Instagram, where you post pictures, as an effective marketing tool,” he said.
Almost ten years old, social media platform Twitter now has 500 million users, of which 300 million are active users.
The service allows users to send and receive short text messages, known as tweets, of up to 140 characters, which can include hyperlinks and images. Twitter can be accessed through smartphones and other mobile devices, and also on desktop computers.
Users build a list of followers who will receive their messages, and this reach is increased if followers retweet the message to their list of followers.
As of June, the most popular Twitter account belonged to singer Kate Perry, with 71.4 million followers. Barack Obama is the third most popular with 60 million followers.
Hashtags are used to group posts together by topic or type, such as #bermuda, which can be picked up by users following a general ad hoc list of topics and themes.