Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tweeting Into A Career

Someone on LinkedIn asked me: if I tweet links to articles and blogs, to whom will I tweet? How do I get people to follow me on Twitter?

That's a great question. Most of us are not celebrities and creating a Twitter account does not instantly gain us a following. If you haven't used Twitter yet, you may not know where to start. Or if you're familiar with the platform, you may be unsure how to get people to pay attention to what you're saying.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social network wherein people "tweet" messages, quotes, and links, all in 180 characters or less. It is useful if you are attempting to increase awareness of your "brand" - i.e., your professional reputation - in hopes of connecting to customers, clients, or a new job. It can also be fun.

When you sign up, you create a profile that includes a username, picture, an autobiographical blurb, and your location. You can make your account public, so that anyone can see what you write, or private, so that only people you approve can read your tweets. If you're using Twitter to promote yourself, I recommend being public.

How Do I Get Followers?

First, go follow other users. Search Twitter for friends, family, politicians, celebrities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Once you find the person/entity for whom you're searching, "follow" them. Then, look through that users' "followers" (Twitter users who are following the user in question) and "following" (list of Twitter users that the user in question is following). Follow some of them. There are automated ways to do find users to follow - for instance, my Android phone finds the Twitter accounts of my Google contacts, Facebook friends, and LinkedIn connections for me - but the point is to follow lots of people.

Most Twitter users will receive a notification when they get a new follower (this is a feature you can turn on or off). They will then come look at your Twitter profile and they might follow you. Make sure that you provide a link to your Twitter profile to your other social networks and blog readers.

From that point on, getting followers is all about your tweets.

On your Twitter homepage, the tweets of those you follow line up for your attention in real time. If you see something you like, "retweet" it. If you see something you want to comment on, "reply" to it with your own tweet of 180 characters or less. Along the right column, Twitter provides you with a list of "trends" - you can click on one to participate in the conversation. You can also add a "hashtag" (e.g. #ILoveKittens) onto the end of your tweets to signify the subject matter of the tweet, and thus the "trending topic" to which you're adding. Recommend other Twitter users, especially on "Follow Friday", when people often tweet the usernames of several Twitter users they recommend followed by the hashtag #FollowFriday or #FF.Any of this activity may gain you new followers.

I try to make sure that my tweets aren't always selfish: I retweet lots of other people's content and share links to new articles and blogs that my followers might find interesting. If I have a new blog entry of my own, I'll tweet a link to it once. If I am promoting an event, I will tweet a link to the information once a day or if information on the event changes.

I have seen other Twitter users send a direct tweet to someone with lots of followers with the request "please retweet" or "please RT", which the popular user sometimes does. Make sure if you do this that you ask a user who will have a genuine interest in your content and who will want his/her followers to see it. If you abuse this, then it will lose its effectiveness.

This is where my advice on Twitter must end because, as much as I enjoy it, I'm still learning how to promote my brand and my content on Twitter. Do you have any other ideas on how to use Twitter to promote yourself effectively?

Next time, I'll go more in depth on how to use LinkedIn for your job search, beyond just branding.

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