Posts tagged social media
Dorset foodie uses social media to spice up her business

IIlana Smith of Hari Hari is an inspiration to anyone who wants to set up a small business based around food. She’s combined her passion for cooking with her Sri Lankan roots to create a brand that’s getting noticed, and, of course, she’s using social media to get the word out. I recently spoke with Illana to learn more about the origins of Hari Hari and the part that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have played in her story so far.

Dorset foodie
Dorset foodie

The seeds of a spice shop

Illana’s professional background is HR and training in bigger companies. Like so many of us, she wanted to work for herself, which meant looking at the resources and opportunities available.

Being half-Sri Lankan, and having lived there for many years, she had a deep appreciation for Sri Lankan curries, which she loves to cook. The difference in taste means she prefers to use spices shipped directly from Sri Lanka, rather than those bought in the UK.

Turning these spices into meal-ready packages seemed to be a great way for Illana to combine her curry passion with her business ambitions.

She spent a year planning the business. Advice she received early on was to set a high standard of presentation from the start, making it important that her branding and packaging was right from day one.

Dorset foodie cooking
Dorset foodie cooking

Growing a business through networking

Hari Hari began in 2014 with a website and a Facebook Page. Illana then discovered and joined The Anonymous Travelling Market, which promotes local food and craft in the South West. That led her to Dorset Food & Drink, where she made the most of every networking opportunity on offer, picking up loads of advice from fellow producers at every event.

One of the most useful revelations was the power of Twitter to connect small businesses. Through Twitter, Illana has made lots of useful new contacts with other small producers and local retailers.

Because retailers have seen Hari Hari being talked about on Twitter, they’re more open to putting the spice packages on their shelves. Whereas some shops were initially wary, some are now approaching Illana in order to stock her products.

Another revelation to Illana was supper clubs, where foodies gather around a table to share a meal and get to know one another better. She has gone on to develop a supper club in conjunction with Comins Tea House in Sturminster Newton.

Hari Hari food
Hari Hari food

How people and social media have helped Hari Hari

Illana effectively launched her business at the school gate, supported by a website and Facebook Page. Today that Page has well over 400 likes. She also has over 800 followers on Twitter and over 1,100 followers on Instagram.

As a sole trader, Illana struggles to give more time to social media. She’s also very happy with the follower numbers because, while they’re not high, they deliver results.

Illana’s approach to Facebook and Instagram is to share the journey that she’s on, while Twitter is more about connecting with other businesses. She usually posts at least one Instagram picture per day, and posts on Facebook two or three times a week. Because they’re important channels, she keeps up with them during the day.

If you’re thinking of setting up a business, or already run one, here are some tips from Illana:

  • Give social media time - it takes one or two years to really start getting results.
  • Be patient about sales - it took around a year for her website sales to go from zero to frequent.
  • Have a way to measure success - for Illana this is repeat customers. A very high percentage of those who buy from her come back for more.

Dorset is well known for its specialist, artisan food producers. Hari Hari is a part of that vibrant community, both online and offline. It’s a great example of how someone is making a success of their business ambitions by connecting with their passion and harnessing the power of social media.

Hari Hari is a 2016 Taste of the West gold award winner.

Click here to learn more about Hari Hari spices.

Hari Hari packs
Hari Hari packs
How to use Twitter lists

Is your Twitter timeline so busy that it’s sometimes hard to spot the tweets from the people you really want to hear from? Do you wish there was an easy way to find and follow particular types of Twitter user, such as those offering a similar service, or are based in the same area?

Twitter lists can solve both of these problems for you, and more besides. Lists are an underappreciated feature of Twitter. They’re simple to use yet can be extremely powerful. Let’s explore what lists are and how to use them...

What is a Twitter list?

A Twitter list is nothing more than a list of Twitter users. These lists can be surprisingly useful.

Let’s say you’re planning a wedding and you want to keep track of various wedding suppliers on Twitter. You create a list called ‘Wedding Suppliers’ and then add each tweeter to it. Now you’ve made it really easy to find all those wedding-oriented Twitter accounts.

When you create a list, you can choose whether to make it private or public. A private list can only be viewed by you, while a public list is accessible by anyone. When you visit someone’s Twitter profile, you can choose to view their public lists.


A Twitter list is a filter

You have three options when viewing a list. You can choose to view:

  • Twitter accounts on the list (List Members)
  • Tweets from accounts on the list
  • Accounts that have subscribed to your list, if it’s public

The second of these three, tweets from accounts on the list, is where the list acts as a filter.

Are there people whose tweets you don’t want to miss? Put them in a list called ‘My top tweeters’ or something like that, and then choose to view just the tweets from people in that list. You’ve effectively got a timeline containing just the tweets from those people, excluding everyone else you follow.

When you’re following thousands of Twitter accounts, using lists helps you to find the tweets you don’t want to miss. I know some Twitter users who do follow thousands and they never look at their main timeline - they use their lists to control the number of tweets they see.



Subscribing to a Twitter list

People can subscribe to a public list created by someone else, meaning they can also use that list as a filter. Subscribing to someone else’s list also lets you create what’s effectively a list of lists.

You can see who else has subscribed to a list, either one of yours or a list set up by someone else.

How to add someone to a Twitter list


It’s really easy. When you’re looking at their Twitter profile page, use the menu option or user action and choose ‘Add to List’. Then select which list you want to add them to.

You can’t add someone to a list set up by another Twitter user.

When you add someone to a public list, they receive a notification.

Removing someone from a list is also really easy when you’re using Twitter in a browser, such as from a laptop or desktop.

Have you been added to any Twitter lists? There is no way of knowing whether you’re on a private list, but in the lists area of your Twitter profile you can see which lists you’ve been made a member of (added to).

No follow required

Want to keep an eye on your competitors’ tweets without actually following them? That’s simple - just create a private list and add them to it. They’ll never know, and in the same way, you don’t know whose private lists you are on!

You can add people to lists without following them, and you can subscribe to lists set up by people you don’t follow.

The only way to stop someone adding you to a list is to block them.

What you can’t do with a Twitter list

You can’t send a tweet to just to people on a Twitter list. Lists are not a way to facilitate group discussions, whether private or public. Nor can you add yourself to a list set up by someone else - except by asking them.

The only way to remove yourself from someone’s list is by blocking them, or again, by asking.

You can take advantage of the Twitter list function

Here are some of the ways that you can use Twitter lists to your advantage:

  • Filter out all the background noise and focus on just the tweets you want to read.
  • Keep an eye on tweets from your competitors or others in your industry.
  • Create lists that are useful for others and promote them.
  • Get people’s attention by adding them to a list.

Twitter lists can be a useful way to find other Twitter users to follow. Let’s say you want to follow Twitter accounts in Dorset that provide services associated with weddings - click through here and you’ll see that I’ve already made a list for you. Lists made by other Twitter users may be equally useful. Unfortunately, there is no way of searching for lists within Twitter.


Ideas for Twitter lists you might want to set up:

  • Current suppliers
  • Potential future suppliers and freelancers
  • People who often retweet you
  • Important sources of information for your industry
  • Organisations you’re targeting as potential customers
  • Your employees

Used well, Twitter lists can be hugely powerful, giving you much more control over your Twitter experience. They can also reinforce your position as an influencer in your particular sector.

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Stop selling and start telling

You put people off by shouting about your wares Old fashioned advertising (that is, pre-social media) was easy. You created an ad that said ‘Buy this from me’ and put it into a newspaper, a magazine or online.

Whether you were selling scuba gear, holiday accommodation or bookkeeping services, the process was more or less the same.

So what happened when social media came along? You opened an account for your business and started doing the same thing as you’d always done: ‘Buy this from me, buy this from me.’

Except it doesn’t work. Why?

Because when people use social media, it’s not like reading a magazine or brochure. They don’t just want information coming at them, they want to exchange information. And they want to talk about things that interest them.

So stop selling

Here are some of the selling actions that annoy people on social media:

  • Promoting your product and service in every post you put out.
  • Hijacking hashtags and Twitter chats simply to promote yourself.
  • Sending people Direct Messages on Twitter, saying ‘Thank for following us, now come and buy our stuff’ (or words to that effect).

Take a look at the Dorset firms that use a lot of social media, like Goldhill Organics or Dorset Cereals. Are all their posts pushing their products? No, they're not. They often share posts from others and while they often mention their own products, there are no pleas for you to buy from them.

And start telling

What’s the difference between selling and telling?

Selling is: ‘Buy from me.’ Telling is: ‘This is what we do and why we do it.’ Telling is often about stories.

A great example of telling not selling
A great example of telling not selling

Ways that you can ‘tell’ on social media include:

  • Sharing about the background to your products, such as where you source from and why.
  • Talking about the people in your business: staff, suppliers, customers.
  • Post pictures of the wonderful area we live and work in. Dorset is so photogenic!
  • Encouraging discussion about subjects that could interest your followers and have nothing to do with your business.

People are increasingly making choices about who they buy from based on how much a business cares about the environment, its staff and its customers.

By ‘telling’ you can encourage people to feel positive about your business, increasing the chances of them buying from you.

The bad news is that ‘telling’ takes time.


The good news is that social media makes it really easy to follow businesses that are interesting and ignore those that just sell.

So be sure to be interesting!

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