Twitter. We use it to know what’s happening in the world as it’s happening, to gain insight in industry news, and (let’s all be honest with ourselves) to see what Kim Kardashian is having for dinner.
But Twitter is also a powerful tool to develop a personal brand, and it’s hard to know if we’re even doing it right. Here are a few tips.
Fill out your profile completely and strategically
This is your brand. Nobody wants to talk to a picture of an egg. Consider using your LinkedIn profile picture as your Twitter profile picture. It will create consistency around your brand and will keep your Twitter account looking professional.
Your bio should be keyword rich. For example, I’m a social media professional so I should include “social media” somewhere in my bio. This doesn’t mean to fill your bio with keywords only. You want your bio to show off a little personality, while also strategically placing keywords and hashtags to help your searchability.
Consider linking to your LinkedIn profile. Twitter lets you have one website link, so why not link it to professional information about yourself? Again, brand consistency.
Choose your Twitter handle thoughtfully. I have it easy. I’m pretty sure I’m the only Ashley Manweiler in the world (or at least on social media), so I can always use my name as my handle. This gets trickier if your name is “Jen Smith.” Still, take time to think of a creative way to display who you are in your handle. @JustinBiebersGirlfriend probably isn’t what you want to go with (even if that is a goal for some of us).
When picking a cover photo, consider using a simple one. No employer cares that you’re “like a storm, not one you run away from, but one you chase.” Keep it professional. If you want to use a quote as your cover photo, find an inspirational quote related to your industry. Look at what other professionals in your industry are using on Twitter for more inspiration.
Be active every day
I know, easier said than done. Life is busy. But it’s important to be active in one way or another on Twitter regularly to let your followers know your account is active and to build relationships. It will help get you noticed.
This doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. It can be an original tweet, a retweet, a like, a reply, anything. Just stick with it and it will pay off. Retweeting compliments the person who created the retweet, which is helpful in building relationships on Twitter. If you see a great tweet, reply with a simple “Great advice!” or “Neat article.” Compliments go a long way. Don’t be a stalker who retweets and replies to every tweet a person puts out. Retweet only what you think reflects positively on your personal brand. Don’t just compliment the tweeter 100 percent of the time, engage in conversation with them.
When you first create a Twitter profile, you will definitely want to start following quite a few people. Refrain from hopping on the follow train and immediately follow 500 people in one day. You will look like you don’t know what you’re doing, or like you’re trying to get people to follow you, and your Twitter newsfeed will be cluttered with thousands of tweets you don’t care about. (Trust me, I made this mistake when I first joined Twitter.)
Start by following brands you trust (news organizations, companies in your industry) and people you know. If you’ve heard of professionals within your industry who are great at Twitter, follow them, too. It will take time to follow people, and that’s okay. “Future you” will thank you.
When building a personal brand, it can be hard to know or find who to follow. First, look at who the professionals you follow are following, and then look at who those people are following. That’s a great place to start.
Here are different types of people and brands you might consider following:
– Industry thought leaders
– Friends and family
– Top-level executives at your target companies
– News organizations
– A few of your favorite brands and people, like the Denver Broncos or a great comedian
This is a good starting list. Who you follow will change as you find your niche within Twitter and your industry.
Planning and organizing
Consider using Tweetdeck to take off the pressure of tweeting daily and to organize conversations happening on Twitter.
Tweetdeck is an incredibly helpful tool that we use for our personal Twitter accounts and the university. This is a tool developed by Twitter, so the two platforms work well together.
You can schedule tweets and create custom newsfeeds based on topics or people you follow. Your custom newsfeeds are displayed in columns, and let you see only what you want to see. It’s a big timesaver. For example, I have one newsfeed dedicated to #HESM (higher ed social media). When I look at that newsfeed, I only see tweets from people talking about social media in higher ed. I have another newsfeed dedicated to family and friends so I can always stay up-to-date on what’s happening in their lives. (Click on image to the right.)
Basically, Tweetdeck will be your BFF.
What to tweet
You can setup your profile perfectly and follow all the right people, but when you have to actually come up with something to tweet about, it can be intimidating.
I don’t have the answers to what you should be tweeting, but I do have a couple suggestions.
1. Talk about current events and join trending conversations. Twitter shows you what is trending, or what a large amount of people are talking about. You can tailor this to see what’s trending in your state, country or the world. Jumping in on some of these trends can help build your brand. For example, a journalist might jump in on the #NationalHugANewsPersonDay with a picture of themselves being hugged by their child. I will say, be careful about what trends you join. Really make sure the trends reflect the brand you’re trying to build.
2. Use industry hashtags. As I mentioned earlier, I follow #HESM. This keeps me in the loop about social, and I am also able to position myself as an expert within the conversation. It will also help get your tweets in front of the right people so you can build relationships with them. Finding what hashtags are in your industry can be tricky. My best advice is to keep an eye out for what other professional you follow are using.
3. Industry or interesting news: Become a thought leader within your industry by sharing news about your industry, or asking your followers thoughtful questions. Position yourself as an expert.
4. Show off your personality. At the end of the day, you’re a person. You want to be real on Twitter. You don’t have to tweet about what you’re having for breakfast or your political stance on gun rights, but you also don’t have to be all business al the time. I was heartbroken when Big Brother (#BB18) ended this season, knowing I would have to wait another year to watch it again. So I tweeted a humorous tweet about it. Have fun. Be you.
5. Questions to ask yourself before you tweet: I read this somewhere online once. Three questions to ask yourself before you tweet: Is this relevant to my followers? Does this promote my values or business ideals? Does this help my followers get to know me better in a positive way?