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Twitter: Your Ultimate Guide

by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17

Twitter’s executives say that their site isn’t a social media network; it’s an information network. Journalists love Twitter because they can get wind of something the moment it happens, and then provide a timely breaking news report on it. You should consider using Twitter if you don’t already because it’s a place to establish yourself as a thought leader. Plus, many recruiters use Twitter to find their next hires.

Before we jump into the ins and outs of Twitter, last week I wrote about LinkedIn. Both articles are part of a blog series about Lindsey Pollak’s career book, Becoming the Boss. To brush up on your LinkedIn etiquette and what makes a great profile, check out last week’s post.

Key #1: Set Up a Professional Account

If you’re already using Twitter for personal reasons, and wouldn’t want an employer to see what you’ve been posting, you might want to start a new account for professional use only. (And consider deleting your unprofessional one, since anything that’s been on the web stays there, no matter how tight your privacy settings are.)

You’ll want to use your real name, or as close to it as you can come based on availability. Include a professional head shot as your profile picture, and feel free to use the same one as on your LinkedIn. Consistency is a good thing. For the background image, use a logo for your business (if you have one) or a photo that places you in a professional context. My Twitter background at the time of this writing is of flowers, which works for me because I spent my summer interning with a botanical garden. You can always keep the background black if you can’t think of anything to use.

Finally, you’ll want to write a killer bio. Characters are limited, so be choosy. Pollak recommends stating your professional title/leadership roles as well as a few fun facts, such as your coffee addiction or your love for cats. Use your best judgment on whether a fact is appropriate or not.

Key #2: Follow

If you’re already using Twitter, you’re (hopefully) already following a diverse professional crowd of people. Pollak recommends following these types of people:

  • Prominent leaders in your community and industry.
  • If you have a business or work for a company, it’s a good idea to follow clients and potential clients. This gives you the opportunity to engage with your target audience by saying congrats or good luck on appropriate tweets. It generally also helps to know what your audience is talking about.
  • Follow your competition, whatever that might mean for you.
  • Follow reporters who write about your industry. If they follow you back and like what you tweet, you could become a potential source for stories in the future.
  • Follow the tweeters that people from the above four bullets follows. If you love an author, see who they follow and get inspiration from. If a professional in your industry is following a few notable thought leaders, you should be too.

Remember that Twitter isn’t different froom Facebook or LinkedIn because, unless someone has their privacy settings adjusted, you don’t have to be accepted as a follower. It’s usually as simple as hitting the follow button. Don’t be discouraged if people don’t hit the follow button in return; it’s not personal. You just have to continue working to establish yourself as a thought leader.

Key #3: Tweet

The first two keys involved listening, taking note of how others use Twitter. This is an important first step before you dive in with your own tweeting. Seeing how others use Twitter can give you a better idea of how you can and should use yours.

When you are ready tweet, Pollak recommends starting off with one a day, working your way up to three a day.  This is especially true if you want to be a thought leader. A key component of leadership is visibility.

What should you tweet about? Articles that you’ve read, especially if they are focused on your industry, is a great place to start. Add a few words about what you thought of the article in your tweet to make it more personal. This will increase your visibility and make you appear knowledgeable in your field (which you obviously are). You might want to avoid tweets about your breakfast or other such topics; your goal is to add value, not fill space.

Additionally, feel free to post humorous witticisms, memes, or articles from time to time. Twitter is a lot more casual than LinkedIn for example, where you really shouldn’t be posting anything meant for entertainment. Just be sure that you’re not sharing or saying anything offensive, and try to stay on the light, safe side of humor. Where is that line?

Blockquote: “My advice for trying to find that line is to look at people three or four years more experienced in your same space to see what they are doing. If they post something that makes you feel uncomfortable – like posting a picture of their abs after a workout – then don’t do that! Or, if you find people who are creating a persona you admire, then follow the guidelines or etiquette that person seems to follow. Basically, judge how you react to other people on social media.” – Jimmy Lepore Hagan, director of digital media for fashion brand Nannette Lepore

Key #4: Extras

Reacting to other people’s tweets is key to engaging and building a community. It’s especially important to build relationships through these reactions with clients, leaders in your industry, and colleagues. Twitter is focused on conversations, remember that. Don’t post about yourself, but about things others can respond to and engage with.

Think before your tweet. If you are cranky or mad or upset, stay away from Twitter until you’ve calmed down. You don’t want to tweet passive aggressive tweets about your boss because you will regret it.

If you find that keeping up with a Twitter schedule is hard to remember or just doesn’t work for you, consider using Hootsuite or Buffer. These websites let you schedule your tweets for whenever you want, and they also provide useful analytics. To manage Career Collaborative’s Twitter, I personally use Buffer. Keep in mind for Buffer at least, you can only schedule up to 10 tweets at a time without paying a monthly fee.

Look out for part eight of this blog series, which will talk about skills for effective communication.

Sources: Becoming the Boss by Lindsey Pollak; find more information about Pollak here.