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How the Tweet do I get started?

The start of a new year is an opportunity for change for many people. Whether it is a change in their job/career, personal life or simply something new they wish to explore, this is the time when many people ‘resolve’ to do just that. Several close friends and colleagues of mine are in the midst of changes of their own. Whether it is embarking on a new career choice or simply deciding to expand their network reach by trying new things, they are going in a different direction. What this comes down to is ensuring that you are always managing your personal brand. Now, since most of them were smart and started on LinkedIn some time ago, they had already begun building their personal brand and expanding their networks. They are now looking to further elevate their personal brand in the social media world and want to get started on Twitter but weren’t sure how to go about doing so, where to start, what to Tweet, etc.

Knowing that I had gone through a similar personal branding exercise over a year ago, they have reached out to me for some advice which I have been gladly sharing. To that end, I figured if they found it useful, maybe others would too. So here is my advice on how to kick start your presence on Twitter in terms of what to do and what to expect:

3581392721_0ae9c456f1_o1. Just get going – that is, don’t overthink your profile description too much in the beginning (or your Twitter handle). Once you decide if you are using Twitter for personal or professional use (the advice being given here is based on professional use) that should help drive how you describe yourself in your profile. Piece together a profile that more or less lines up with how you present yourself on LinkedIn. Then, upload a professional photo of yourself (as professional as possible). No one wants to “follow” an egg! Remember, you can always amend your profile description but you should start with a Twitter handle that you won’t want to change.

2. Get following – Twitter allows you to conduct searches so it is best to identify key words, topics and hash tags that are relevant to you and the industry you are looking to play in. If you are in Human Resources, search Twitter for terms like recruiting, talent management, human resources, etc. You will be amazed at what your searches will come up with. Once you see some interesting Twitter people (Tweeps or Tweeple) just start following them! If you know the names of some “stars” in your industry, search by name and follow them! The power of Twitter is that once you start to follow people, they often will follow you back and then their followers will often follow you……do you follow me?

3. Get Tweeting – ok, so now you are following people (and you should be regularly adding people that you follow) you need to provide value/content to your followers and to anyone else who may be trolling around on Twitter for information. Provide tweets that contain links to articles in your industry, provide original helpful hints, suggestions, ideas etc. that your followers would find of value. I don’t recommend that you tweet about what you had for breakfast or how much you paid for your latest business suit. The other powerful tool at your disposal is the re-tweet (RT). If you come across a tweet on Twitter from someone else that you found useful, than re-tweet it. It is the greatest complement you can give someone on Twitter and it is a great way to gain additional followers and expand your network. You also need to tweet on a regular basis. Sending out one tweet on a Monday, another Tweet on Thursday and maybe one more on Saturday is not going to get you noticed and help you build up a following. You need to be regularly tweeting several times a day, most days of the week and at different times. Space your tweets out throughout the day so you aren’t clogging up your followers Tweet list but make sure that people know you are out there and have something to say…I mean Tweet about!

4. Favourites – this is another great way to provide Twitter complements. By “favouriting” a Tweet, it saves that particular Tweet in your Twitter files for easy, future reference. It is another way (much like the re-tweet) of saying to the person that supplied the Tweet, “I think this was really useful/valuable/memorable, etc.” “I am going to save/use this again!”

5. Lists – once the number of Tweeps or Tweeple that you follow becomes unmanageable, you probably need to start creating lists to make it easier to see the Tweets of those that you find the most interesting. For example, I have created my own list called, “HR & Social Media – Key Talent.” This way, I can hone in on the key folks in the HR and Social Media realms that I follow anytime I want to. (You can create other lists for other people in different categories – i.e. “Business Leaders“, etc.) When I add someone to a list, they also become aware (in their @connect section) that someone has added them to a list and what the name of the list is. Again, much like re-tweets and favourites, it is another way of complementing someone and helps to expand your network. Remember, people on Twitter are more likely to follow others that share their content (re-tweet), favourite them and add them to lists.
So there you have it – five simple ways to get kick started on Twitter. There is a lot more you can do on this fabulous tool – which happens to be one of my favourite social media outlets after LinkedIn. I ensure you that after doing these five things, you will be well on your way to leveraging Twitter while enhancing your personal brand. I would love to know how you make out with Twitter and using these tips. Don’t hesitate to let me know how you made out by adding a comment on my blog or by dropping me a line on Twitter at @HR_ScottBoulton.

Image courtesy of Slava Baranskyi/Flickr.com

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