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Many businesses tend to overlook Twitter. The reason is that this social media platform has a bit of a reputation for focussing on the trivialities of everyday life as well as it being a bit of a celebrity hang out.

But delve a little deeper and you’ll find a highly effective business communications tool. Twitter allows any food and drink enterprise in the north of Scotland to reach out and develop more effective business to business (B2B) relationships.

Here at Williamson Foodservice we sell around 3,000 product lines that represent dozens of suppliers and manufacturers on a product list that ranges from tasty fruit and vegetables, premium soft drinks and handbaked cakes to artisan cheese, craft beers and fine wines. We’re constantly tweeting about these.

On the other side of the B2B continuum, we serve hundreds of customers from hotels, restaurants and cafés to caterers and retailers right across the north of Scotland. We therefore find Twitter is an essential component in the relationships we have with both suppliers and customers.

Sharing customer success

We estimate about 25 per cent of our customers occupy the Twitter space and we regularly monitor their accounts. This helps us celebrate and share their successes from awards won, media recognition, positive reviews from customers or bloggers/critics etc to their involvement in wider campaigns like the North Coast 500. Dishes they are proud of or business growth or expansion projects like new kitchens, extensions or plans for growth also offer great opportunities to shout about it on Twitter and for their businesses to gain from this increased exposure.

The growth in food and drink enthusiasts has also mushroomed in recent years and many of these ‘influencers’ have incredibly large numbers of people following them, usually on platforms like Twitter. They are constantly looking for new businesses like yours to tweet about, visit and/or review.

Suppliers to Williamson’s on the other hand launch new products, update existing ones, provide customer support like recipes or new ideas for using their products as well as promoting their own successes. We in turn help share that news to customers through our own Twitter posts. We know that many of our suppliers follow our Twitter account and we know that they like to see how their products are being used by customers too.

Top food and drink information 24/7

Twitter is the mechanism that can bring customer and supplier communications together in a common space that could only otherwise have happened at a trade show or some other similar personal gathering. Whilst many of us may be able to devote a couple of visits a year to such activities (and these are in fact enormously valuable to both sides when they take place as is evidenced by our popular Walkabout events), Twitter allows this free flow of information at whatever time you want it!

Williamson Foodservice also employ techniques that bring the best food and drink news to us and we share this through Twitter too. So, if you are a north chef who is looking for ingredient inspiration or new ideas for menus, then we’re usually tweeting about something you’ll be interested in. Twitter is in fact a great place for chefs to showcase their skills and we regularly communicate and promote their creations – although this is usually late at night when they eventually get out of their kitchens!

Don’t worry too much about terminology

Yes, there’s a bit of getting used to terminology like retweets and hashtags etc and there’s a bit of a learning curve on how you can post to the masses but also speak personally and privately to individuals, but it’s a powerful beast when you get the hang of the basics.

Above all, it gives you an extra and cost effective business tool to complement your other promotional activities and come onto the radar of others you couldn’t have ever imagined being possible.

At Williamson Foodservice, we’ve had new potential suppliers contact us through Twitter and recently a journalist has been in touch with a view to bringing our story to a national audience. It’s another channel for us to add support to the brands we sell and it improves our relationships enormously with both suppliers and customers.

We’d recommend you give it a try! Most people establish an account and start following people just to get a feel for what it’s all about – you don’t have to worry too much about engaging with tweets of your own straight away. Give us a follow and we’ll follow you back – and that’s you off and tweeting!

Let us know in the comments below how you get on or send us a personal message on Twitter! Good luck!