As part of my social media consulting practice, I train CEOs, senior executives and practice professionals about developing their personal brand online. And I almost always start with Twitter.
From the outside, Twitter may look like a lot of people talking about frivolous things like what they ate for lunch or the local weather. Even if you find compelling content, it seems like it could become a huge distraction, draining precious time and attention out of your work day. And how meaningful can any exchange be when it’s limited to 140 characters?
True, there’s lots of noise on Twitter and it can most certainly make time evaporate.
If you’re in the business of giving advice and influencing people, then Twitter is where you want to be. Twitter is a tool for building credibility and thought leadership, for meeting and networking with people of like mind and learning from those with thoughtful differences of opinion. In short, Twitter is where online influence is born.
If you want to get the most out of Twitter, consider the following:
1. Be smart. Twitter is not just another “marketing channel” for pushing out corporate messages. You have to use it intelligently and strategically.
2. Follow and listen to the people that influence you – your favourite publications, columnists, analysts and observers. Pay close attention to what they share and what you find most interesting about that content.
3. Share content that influences you – the stuff that makes you think, makes you smile, scares the crap out of you. That’s how you share your personality and that’s what makes you interesting to your followers.
4. Retweeting – sharing content – is how you show favour on Twitter. It’s a compliment to retweet someone’s content, so focus on sharing the content of those people who you think are really contributing positively to the online discussion and get on their radar. (See Margie Clayman’s The Art of Retweeting.)
5. Create compelling, honest content. You’ve accumulated wisdom and insight throughout your professional life, so share it. Share the stories, share the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Show people the values that inform who you are.
6. Curate more than you create. Creating your own content is important, but you don’t need to compose everything you share. Work towards becoming a value-added filter for other people’s great content in the eyes of your followers. (See Evolution of my use of Twitter tools for content curation.)
7. Engage with the people who follow you. When someone replies to one of your tweets, respond in a timely fashion. When someone retweets you, be gracious and thank them. Use these brief touch points to deepen your connections with people.
8. Track your progress. Klout, PeerIndex and TwitterGrader are part of a new crop of tools for measuring online influence. Pay attention to them, but don’t obsess. Instead, tie your social media activities to the key performance indicators of your business.
9. Realize that social media is not only about reaching out your audience, your customers and your market – but enabling them to reach out to you. Be prepared to be transformed by your social media experience.