Twitter can be an incredibly powerful personal branding tool if you take advantage of all the opportunities it presents. Many people are self-taught and sometimes it's a case of "you don't know what you don't know", so in this post I share what I have learned about what you SHOULD be doing to promote "Brand you" on Twitter.
Of course, there are risks of rubbing people up the wrong way, which you should avoid at all costs. I've already written a post about this.
Here are my 10 essential personal branding tips for Twitter:
- Your avatar (profile photo)
Don't underestimate the importance of your avatar. If you're serious about personal branding, you should have a photo of yourself, close up, so that people know who they are talking to and that you're real. If I see another kitten or animated avatar, I will– well, let's just leave it at that. Many people use logos, but if you can avoid it, use a picture of yourself and have another Twitter account for your company tweets if necessary.
- Your Twitter bio
It surprises me how many people don't realise how powerful a Twitter bio is. Yes, you only have 160 characters, so don't use all of them trying to be funny. Make sure you clearly describe your expertise. Use relevant, keyword-rich words that people might use to search. If you optimise your bio, people will find you via Twitter searches. Also include hashtags for the important keywords.
- Your location
I am often contacted via Twitter by jobseekers asking me to put them in touch with the right talent agent at Firebrand. Surprisingly, many of these people don't have a location in their Twitter profile, so it's hard to know which office to put them in touch with. There's a specific field in your Twitter profile where you can add your location. People often search for someone in a specific location, so including one is essential.
The lack of URLs in many Twitter profiles surprises me the most. If you're looking to promote your personal brand or find a job, you need to include a URL — either your website, your blog, your public LinkedIn page, your portfolio website, etc. If you don't have one, plan to create one. If you have more than one URL, consider including one of them in your bio as well. If it's a live link, it is clickable too. I've included Firebrand's blog URL as well as Firebrand's Twitter handle in my bio.
There are two other places where you can brand yourself on Twitter. The first is your background image. Getting the size right is a little tricky, but it's a great opportunity to include your logo, colours, and more info about you and/or your brand.
The second opportunity is your Twitter cover image which, if you use it, will appear underneath your Twitter bio. I've chosen not to include one for Firebrand because I haven't yet come up with a solution that looks aesthetically pleasing (I'm an ex-designer), and works well under white bio text.
- Following people
Following other people on Twitter is the key to being followed back. To quote social media guru Jeff Bullas: "Most newbies don't understand that when you follow people, a certain percentage will follow you back. Now that percentage may be only 20% or it may be 50%, but once you have them following you on Twitter, your updates will now appear in their Twitter stream."
Have at least one screen's worth of quality, informative tweets before you start following other people. There are tools such as TweetAdder, FollowerWonk, ManageFlitter, WeFollow and Twellow which are great for "bulk following" people based on certain criteria. These tools will save you a lot of time, but I'd recommend not following more than 100 per day, or Twitter will ban you.
Once people are following you on Twitter, you should be tweeting regularly. Not once a day or once a week; you need to be tweeting a minimum of three to five times a day, at different intervals. I tweet about 10-20 times a day. Firebrand tweets about 30 times a day. Remember, keep it polite. Think of Twitter like a cocktail party. Leave the loud-mouthed, crass or drunken updates for Facebook – if you have to share them.
I'd say the number one rule on Twitter is to be generous. Share other people's content – a lot. Always thank people for sharing your tweets. Trust me, they will remember you and they will reciprocate. They will also recommend you to others.
- Crediting your source
This is a bit of a bugbear of mine and some people will beg to differ. Don't be selfish or lazy: credit your source in your tweets. If you don't, it looks like you're claiming the content as your own. It's also a great way to keep top of mind with those who wrote the content and they will be grateful that you're sharing.
- Engaging with people
Listening is important, but make an effort to engage with others on Twitter as well. Put yourself out there. Join conversations and connect people. Use a "Twitter client" such as TweetDeck, Hootsuite,SocialBro or SproutSocial, so that you can set up columns which monitor keywords that you're interested in and feel confident talking about.
Did this advice on personal branding for Twitter help you? Have I missed any really great tips? If so, please add a comment below.
Carolyn Hyams is the global marketing director for Firebrand Talent Search, responsible for Firebrand's brand strategy and execution in the UK, Europe and Asia-Pacific.