Before we jump into my Top 10 Tips for Twitter, let’s take a few moments to talk about the value of Twitter and engaging on social media. Social media has become a widespread phenomenon today. And of the various social media channels, my personal favorite is Twitter. And why is that?
“Twitter is a extraordinary tool for intentional listening, tracking key people, organizations, and ideas, while strategically making valuable connections for yourself and others.” ─Nannette Stangle-Castor, April 2014
So now you are excited and ready to engage on Twitter, right? Below are my Top 10 Twitter Tips for your Brand. If you can execute these, you will find that your return on investment to be worth it. You will build your professional and personal brand in an authentic manner that will serve you well.
#10: Get Your Account in Order. Your Twitter account, just like your LinkedIn profile, your resume, etc. will leave a first impression with people. Is the impression it leaves─what you want them to think, and know about you? The key parts to update are the Profile Picture, Bio, Header Image, and Pinned Tweet.
#9: Use Lists for Listening and Competitive Intelligence. Clear your email inbox of those “To read” items and create Twitter Lists to track all the information your used to get in emails from journals, newspapers, blogs, and more. Lists can be public or private and can provide you with a customized research and listening tool.
#8: Use a Social Media Management Tool. I would not use Twitter if I did not also use a management tool. I prefer HootSuite, although there are many others out there as well. A social media management tool provides for personalized packaging of the
information that you want─to access the tweets from those on lists, and from tweets containing defined words (e.g., hashtags), etc. Using HootSuite allows you to hear the signal through the noise of all the data that is out there. It helps you to focus on what matters and allows you to take in that information when you want. In addition, when it comes to posting, HootSuite provides the ability to schedule posts on multiple channels (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)─a “must have” for those serious about engaging on social media.
#7: Listen Before you Tweet. As with any scenario, you need to gauge the room before you engage. That rule applies on Twitter. Take the pulse of the community before you jump in. What is being talked about? How are people positioning themselves? Is the information you are interested in being discussed? Listening─initially and on an ongoing basis─will enable you to more effectively engage with the community.
#6: Strive for Quality and Consistency. “Be” what you look for in others (e.g., what drives you to the major publications, like NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.). If your signal is intermittent, then it will be lost. Ask yourself, how are you contributing to the conversation? Think before you tweet: are you adding to the noise or are you helping to define the signal and direction of the conversation?
#5: Know the Rules. This is an area that many people struggle with and that keeps people from engaging on Twitter. Learn the syntax (see my Anatomy of a Tweet and Quick Tips Reference sheet). As you begin, think of this as a foreign language–give yourself a break─it will take time to master. Although there is no written etiquette guide to Twitter, I tell people to treat people online, like you would in person or print. In other words, credit sources, use thank yous, and you’ll be all set. And within all of that─BE AUTHENTIC─develop your voice
#4: Use Hashtags. Think of hashtags as a searchable keyword. They are a great tool for connecting the dots for people. Hashtags also get you “found” by others that are monitoring tweets with that particular hashtag. As with all things, moderation is good─use strategically, but do not overuse. Hashtags are also a key tool for events, but that is a topic for a whole separate post. If you are trying to wrap your head around hashtags, I have to say, that watching the Hashtags video clip by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake is a great way to learn: check it out here.
#3: Focus on Relationships, Not Just Sales. Twitter, and in reality all social media is about building relationships and trust for future sales. If you are not following Ted Rubin, you should be. He started the hashtag #RonR, which means Return on Relationship! Sales that happen will be as a result of building a trusting, value-added relationship. Engage your audience with valuable content and they will think of you when making purchasing decisions later on.
#2: Commit Time for Set Up. There is no instant gratification here. If you want to use Twitter (or other social media channels) to build your brand, then it takes some upfront time to set things up. In working with the hundreds of people that I have coached on social media, what often trips them up is being aware of their own brand. In order to make Twitter lists, to build your bio, etc., you have to first ask yourself some questions. Who am I? What do I care about? What do I stand for? What areas do I want to influence? These are heavy questions that many people have not answered. Because this self-reflection is needed to really engage authentically on social media, I love it! By helping people, often women, to engage on social media, I am helping them to be introspective and identify who they are and who they want to become. That is priceless. This upfront time commitment is needed to help you gain focus, which is essential in the world of social media with many, many distractions. This previous post gives some insight into being WISE when you are engaging and can help with this initial work.
#1: Be Intentional. This is my mantra in my work and life! If you are going to engage on Twitter, be intentional! It’s all about the outcome. What do you want to happen? If you don’t know, then how will you ever get there? If you are wanting to be noticed by a specific organization, then look them up, use hashtags they use, reference them in tweets, etc. Please don’t treat Twitter like another thing on your checklist. Use it intentionally and it will be well worth your while!
I hope that you take the plunge into the world of Twitter. It has been an immensely valuable experience for me and I hope that you can have the same experience as well, by following my Top 10 Twitter Tips!