Rachel Gaffney's Letter from Texas

Rachel Gaffney

The famous foodie who’s flying the tricolour for us in Texas shares a Twitter success story, of converting social media interaction into business

There are many social media sceptics among us, and who can blame them for being that way. We hear the horror stories relating to cyber bullying and of people’s identities being hacked. Perhaps the worst and most baffling of all these social media horror stories is the modern form of narcissism, known as the ‘selfie’. Yes, this constant need to take a photo of oneself in front of a mirror and then share with the world. I think I will leave this puzzling phenomenon to the professionals to figure out!

Does someone’s reply to another on Twitter make a difference or really matter when you are trying to grow your business or promote your business? I think it does. In 1971 Professor Lorenz at MIT presented his paper “Predictability, does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”, which came to be known as the ‘Butterfly Effect’

I am here , in Dallas, Texas, approximately four and half thousand miles away (7k km) from Ireland. I am connected to my homeland as most of my family live there, I have numerous subscriptions to publications and frequently listen to Irish radio in my home.

Indeed I am a frequent traveller there, but it is actually social media and the daily communication via Twitter that provides me with the information that I seek when planning my clients trips. It is here that I get to know who I want to do business with.

On April 20th 2015, my first group will meet me in Dublin. We will be going on a culinary adventure around Ireland. Most of the people in this group will arrive earlier and depart later but all of us will be together for a week.

They have asked me for suggestions on where to visit and where to stay when in Ireland. I would like hoteliers, producers, tour guides, small businesses, authors, museums, craft beer companies and anyone else with a product or service to know, that Twitter works. When you post, we or at least I am listening, watching, observing and taking note. You see, your brand has a voice. Your voice is indeed your brand.

You may find it a little creepy or even think that it smacks of a little voyeurism! Perhaps, but it is the truth. I find it interesting to watch and listen as people chat to each other and engage. I get a ‘feel’ for the person, product or service. I am forming an opinion of your brand.

When you reply, retweet, engage, when you are kind to others, when you help others or share in their success stories, I am more likely to continue following and engaging with you. Conversely, when you are critical and even sarcastic, I am more likely to unfollow you. This is a global platform and although you may intend for only your followers to read what you post, others may retweet to their followers. Therefore the power of amplification is crucial.

Let me give you an example of what I consider to be the ‘Butterfly Effect’. How did I choose or book the various places and activities for April? It is indeed important to have certain standards, hotel gradings etc but that is not how I choose for my clients.

At the risk of sounding perfectly ‘corny’ simple customer service and courtesy wins every time. 4 years ago, I came across Dr Prannie Rhatigan, author of the ‘Irish Seaweed Kitchen’. Yes, she is indeed well known in Sligo, in Ireland and globally for her infinite knowledge about seaweed. However, I did not know her.

I was researching this subject, recalling a one week course I attended 21 years ago, in Knockadoon, Co Cork. 5 days learning about the lower, middle and upper zones, wading in wellies, ambling over rocks, popping mounds of bladderwrack.

LetterI typed in #seaweed into ‘Tweetdeck’ to see what would I could find. I found companies in Canada, Australia and England. Talks about it being the superfood to watch and places to bathe in it.

Then I spotted ‘The Irish Seaweed Kitchen’. Prannie’s interaction with others caught my attention. I clicked on the avatar and followed the link to the website and began to read and read and read ! I was compelled to send an email. I wanted to purchase this book. Prannie and I exchanged a few emails and before long we were chatting on the phone. I recalled my days scrambling around the rugged cove between Youghal and Ballycotton for seaweed as a teenager. Weeks following our conversation, my book arrived and this was written inside

I hope this brings back lots of wonderful memories of childhood on the seashore. Enjoy the book and hopefully, we will meet soon
Kind Regards

I was, needless to say, touched by this.

Twitter ChatWhen I began planning this culinary adventure for April, I reached out to Prannie in 2014, quite simply by sending her a direct message via Twitter. She promptly replied while visiting Australia. Through this interaction with social media, we now have a group visiting Sligo to forage for seaweed with Dr Prannie Rhatigan.

Another group is planned for September and, through Prannie, I met Senator Susan O’Keeffe on Twitter. I knew my great grandparents came from Sligo but only had the name of a small holding. For years we had searched for this place on the map but could not find it. I thought I had nothing to lose by asking Senator O’Keeffe if she had heard of this place. She did. It turns out that it is located just minutes from Cromleach Lodge and Spa. A spa that I was looking at for future clients. A spa that carries my favourite seaweed products from Sligo ‘Voya’

“Lorenz realized that small differences in a dynamic system such as the atmosphere - or a model of the atmosphere -could trigger vast and often unsuspected results.” says MIT News April 16, 2008 Perhaps each tweet you answer mimics that of each flap of the butterfly wing.


Rachel Gaffney's Real Ireland


: Rachel Gaffneys Real Ireland
Follow me on Twitter: @Rachelgaffney

Email: Rachel@Rachelgaffneys.com

Watch 'The Irish Kitchen' now on HULU


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