Don’t build your brand on borrowed land.
That was the critical takeaway I gave a group of University of Central Oklahoma students I spoke to earlier this week. Yes, I recognize the irony of telling this to a class I’m speaking to about using Twitter, but it’s true.
Social media is an excellent tool for networking and sharing, but it’s best used to direct people back to your website and blog — things you own and control.
You don’t own social media. You don’t control who sees what or even whether the medium exists tomorrow. Or, as I told the class, you can’t control how Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are going to screw it up.
What you can control is what happens with your website and blog.
Tips for Using Twitter Effectively
Don’t worry! I didn’t just tell the students how they should focus on their blogs, websites, or portfolio sites. I also gave them advice on using Twitter effectively. I’m not a Twitter hater AT ALL! In fact, it’s my favorite social medium. You can find me there pretty much all day, every day.
Twitter is, in my opinion, the best medium for networking and community building. When you’re building community on Twitter, you’re no longer limited to just the people who are local (although you should engage with them too). All you have to do is show up, engage, share, and treat others kindly.
I’ve benefitted a ton through my years (13 of them) on Twitter. I have an expansive network all over the world. I also have gained speaking, writing, and editing opportunities because of Twitter. And I used it to get great response on the research survey for my dissertation.
Write a Great Bio
People are on Twitter to connect with others, but they want to make sure you’re a real person and that the connection makes sense. If you’ve met them in person, be sure to say so and put that meeting in context. If not, explain why you want to connect. Your bio also helps them determine if they want to connect with you, so make sure you have a great Twitter bio.
Build Your Personal Brand
We all have a personal brand, whether we want to or not. Your personal brand is what people say about you or think about you when you’re not around. It’s what people associate with you. Twitter is a fabulous place to build your personal brand. Just remember that everything you tweet IS associated with you. Retweets are endorsements. By retweeting, you’re helping to spread that information. Also, don’t air your dirty laundry on Twitter. If it gives you pause, it’s probably best to write it in your journal instead of sharing it with the world.
Develop a Following Strategy
You aren’t obligated to follow back everyone who follows you on Twitter. But you should think strategically about what type of Twitter feed you want to build. What types of information do you hope to get from and share on Twitter? That determines who you should follow. I also encourage you to organize your followers in lists right from the beginning. The lists will help you stay organized and participate in certain types of conversations as your network grows. If an account follows you that’s spam, go ahead and block them. You’re not there just to get follower numbers. Follower numbers don’t matter. Engagement does.
Don’t Feed Trolls
There are assholes everywhere in this world, even on Twitter. You don’t owe anyone on Twitter anything. If someone starts being rude to you or someone you’re connected with on Twitter, don’t engage. Block them and move on with your life. You have better things to do.
You have to show up consistently if you want to build a strong network on Twitter. Most people don’t share and engage enough. They’re too passive. Share, retweet, like, etc. about 10 to 15 times a day to actively engage on Twitter.
I didn’t understand the point of Twitter when I joined the platform. My account sat for maybe a year before I did anything with it. But once I figured it out, there was no going back. I’ve seen the positive and negative sides of Twitter, and I totally think the benefits for me outweigh any negativity I’ve encountered. You just have to remember to keep first things first.
If you’d like to see my presentation slides, they’re below.