Becoming proficient in the Twitterverse
And the personal branding saga continues with something very near and dear to my heart, Twitter. Twitter is one of those technologies that many people just don’t understand. But once understood it has tremendous branding and communication power. There are tons of articles and posts about how to use Twitter and since you’re smart people I’m sure you can find them or figure it out; this is just my personal experience about how I tripled my follower count in five months.
Starting with your Twitter profile, make sure that you have a picture (remember that headshot?) to go with your handle (handle is Twitter-speak for the @yourname that you got earlier with your full name or pen name). It decreases your credibility (and your personal brand) if you have that egg with a colored background. Also, make sure in your profile/bio to have a link to your website, your general location, and a few key points (certifications, company name possibly, your Agile specialty) about why someone should follow you. Here is mine for example:
The next part is a bit harder, tweeting. Just like Jesse Fewell states about blogging, to get more followers you need to tweet more. Similarly, you will eventually get a voice on twitter, but you need to practice. It’s hard getting what you want to say into 140 characters so being concise is a must. The goal of a tweet should be to get retweets (or RT: where someone basically reposts what you say to their followers – spreading your message and potentially getting you more followers). There is some science to when to tweet (The Science of Retweets eBook) but the thing to remember is not to be afraid to tweet. Even if you tweet something stupid you can delete it and once more people tweet after you (but hopefully not RT) it will move down in followers’ feeds likely not to be seen again. Grammar is almost another blog post, but on Twitter punctuation isn’t top priority because of the character limit – save the punctuation for your blog posts.
Another couple of key tips: tweets with links get retweeted more often, positive tweets are better, and hashtags are your friend. A #hashtag allows the Twitterverse to self index the content to make it searchable, to allow topics to “trend”, or people to converse in one spot at an event like #Agile2013. One other thing to note about hash tags, Twitter-haters sometimes scope out hashtags (e.g. #Agile, #Scrum, #SAFe) to cause controversy and get their views heard. If one starts replying to your tweets, I find it best to respond only once or twice but not get into a huge Twitter argument – it’s counter productive. Use links to your blog posts with associated hash tags in your tweets with a catchy tagline to get people to click.
When using Twitter to lead people to your blog, make sure you have it embedded in your blog. There are many plug-ins to add buttons to allow people to tweet your content directly from your blog. Also, Twitter has a great widget that is fairly easy to customize to embed in your blog. You can use it for your feed or specific hash tags (but again, beware of the hashtag – you can’t control all that content).
Finally, the other way besides tweeting to get more followers is to follow more people. I used to think it mattered to have more followers than people I was following, now I realize it doesn’t. I follow a lot of people, especially if they follow me. As I see what they post I may go back and unfollow if the content isn’t relevant or they spam my Twitter feed but in general it’s a great two-way relationship. As you see and like what others post, retweet it to your followers and people will start doing the same for your tweets. Or if you have additional comments, reply to the tweeter. This can start some great conversations but beware of becoming a Twitter-hater and being super controversial, unless that’s the reputation you want to have.
There is much more I could write about Twitter, but it’s mostly things I have learned other places and it is very searchable. Oh and don’t forget to put your Twitter handle on your business card and in your email signature! Coming up next week is a guest post with Jake Calabrese with his takes on LinkedIn and Google+ for personal branding.