In today’s very digital world, giving out your card during networking events isn’t enough. Creating a social media following is the ultimate branding tool.To get you started, I wanted to give you a starter pack to personal branding on Twitter.
So, without further ado, here are the first five steps to start your Twitter empire:
1. Choose Your Twitter Handle Carefully
You may be a great chef and a fun comic book fanatic, but handles like @Cooking4Life or @GimmeComics123 won’t fly.
However, if you started a cooking blog and you want your brand to revolve around that, something like @JeffTheChef is both straightforward and memorable. It’s ok to play around with something funky, but it’s not okay to create a cryptic handle of a middle schooler.
This is a great solution for bloggers. For inspiration, here are two bloggers that took their URL and made it their handle:
Now, if you’re not a blogger, or an advocate for your business (or place of work) like someone like Ann Handley, you can simply use your name. It’s the easiest way for people to find and recognize you!
One last thing to remember about Twitter handles is that although you can change them as you please, it’s better not to change it up too often. Once people start to recognize your handle, it won’t be easy to let every follow know that it’s changed. A strong personal brand needs to be consistent and recognizable, and that includes your usernames.
2. Choose Your Brand’s Imaging
Your profile is like an online business card of sorts. People need to see who you are (not what coat your cat has) and what you’re all about. Use your profile picture and header photo accordingly.
You can have a fancy business-professional picture, a simple selfie (but make it tasteful, you’re not Miley Cyrus), or a funny photoshoot-style picture (Chris Goward nailed this one.) But, as far as covers go, there are a few different approaches:
This one is for those who are more advanced in building your personal brand, since you need to have something to promote. You could also promote your blog or the company you work for.
If you have a book coming out, are speaking at an event, or have any other kind of ‘gig’ coming up, make sure that you let your followers know via your cover photo. Not everyone will see your tweet (remember that they have a very short lifespan on Twitter) but more will check your profile or hover on your handle to see your info.
Take a look at Marsha Wright’s cover photo:
Do “Your Thing”
Do you have a catchphrase, a signature color (Joe Pulizzi sure does), or a specific place/event that relates to you?
If you’re just starting out, think of something that you’d like people to associate with you. Every influencer has their own “it” thing. Whatever you choose, put it to work on Twitter! One of my favorite examples is Andrew Davis and his famous “You’ve been Drewed!” phrase:
Sometimes less is more. Branding doesn’t necessarily mean promoting yourself in every aspect of the word. Whether you’re just starting out or are more established on Twitter – a simple photo will do.
The main rule for this strategy is to post something relevant, but not overly splashy. Kittens or ponies may not necessarily work, unless that’s you and your brand (Seth Godin’s Twitter profile is pretty catchy.)
All in all, give it a vibe that portrays your professional environment. Learn from Guy Kawasaki:
3. Find Your Brand’s Voice
Don’t make a professional branding tool all about what you ate for lunch. There are a couple of questions that you need to answer before you click that tweet button:
- Is this relevant to my followers?
- Does this piece of content promote your values or business ideals?
- Does this help your followers get to know you better?
It’s okay to post a panda video here and there, but keep it occasional.
For most of us, just one profile will do. However, I’ve noticed a trend of influencers with two profiles. One just to post content, and another profile that’s professional but still engages people and showcases their personality (influencers are people too!).
I’ve already mentioned Ann Handley, but take a look how she’s created two profiles:
Her second, more personal, profile shows how great of a communicator Ann is – which brings me to my next point.
4. Start Building Connections and Influence
The point of building a personal brand is to become someone who has the answer. You want to be the guy that marketers, social media mavens, and CEOs look to for inspiration? Then you need to roll up your sleeves and find the time to get involved.
From observation, and personal experience, there are a couple things you can do to stay engaged:
Chats are an extraordinary way to meet new people, attract new followers, and gain more information about what’s going on your field. Most Twitter chats take place weekly on the same day, at the same time.
My personal favorite is CMI’s Twitter chat. The people I’ve tweeted with during these chats ended up being the people I got coffee with during conferences, later on leading to professional relationships and co-op projects.
Respond to Mentions and Shares
This one seems obvious, but a lot of people forget about it. After a couple of years on Twitter, I’ve noticed that nothing strengthens professional relationships and loyalty like a little love here and there.
I could once again throw in an Ann Handley example (can you tell I’m a big fan?) but I won’t. Instead, I’ll encourage you to check out her profile and take a look at how engaged Rick Short was during CMWorld 2015:
I really liked Rick’s session, so I tweeted a quote (remembering to give credit by tagging) and I got a response from the author himself. Be like Rick – respond and converse to create loyalty.
Share, Tag, Talk
If the author of an article you’re sharing is on Twitter, tag them in your tweet. Ask other people what they think. Don’t be afraid to start conversations by mentioning someone. It’s good to ask and engage.
5. Become a Master Tweeter
Now that you know what you need to build your personal brand, it’s time to share some tools to help you tweet better.
Save Time With Scheduling
Yes, the tool no one wants to admit to but everyone uses. There are dozens of great scheduling tools – like Klout and Hootsuite – that will help you choose the date and time of each tweet. Although Hootsuite offers more scheduling options, Klout has better optimization tools (time zone, best time of day, etc.).
Find Conversations to Join
Monitor and listen to what’s happening on and around your account. Tools like Mention are a great way to find conversations happening around (and about) you. You can react and reply within the app.
Hand Out Your Handle
Having social media buttons (in this case, Twitter) in your email signature, on your business cards, and in all your bios are important. People are more likely to log on and follow you if you plant the idea in their head first.
The reality is that if you know how Twitter works, what your goals are, and who you want to reach – you’ll be able to build a brand.
Jump in the deep end and start connecting, engaging, and sharing your opinions. With some time and consistency, you’ll find what works best for your personal brand and what falls flat.
Stay true to who you are, but just like with any branding, you need to think about what your audience wants.
Once you have the hang of things, try creating a campaign around influencer outreach. Working with like-minded colleagues will help you establish your position and set a seal on your Twitter personal brand.