Sunday, January 31, 2010

20 Tips for Building Your Personal Brand on Twitter

Since I started using Twitter last year, I've learned a few things (ok, a lot of things). I am grateful for the positive example set by so many professionals I've met through Twitter.

Whether you are promoting your business or your credentials as a job seeker, here are 20 Tips for Building Your Brand on Twitter:

1. Don't Sell A Thing

This one is important. Using Twitter is about paying it forward not paying it backward to yourself. Don't get me wrong. I applaud every business owner out there that offers products and services of value, and makes a living doing so. You deserve to make money. You need to make money to support your family, create jobs, and contribute to your community.

Just don't use Twitter to insert a sales pitch every 8th tweet. Your intentions become quite transparent. Instead, use Twitter with the simple mindset of offering content of value, promoting (and connecting) other people, and showing gratitude.

In networking situations offline, the most appreciated and effective participants are those that serve as matchmakers at an event (even if they just met each person!). Use the same approach on Twitter.

A consistent approach of paying it forward will do more for your business than you can imagine.

2. Be Your Own Voice

Social media is about creating a personal connection with your colleagues, customers, and fans. People want the authentic you, not a hired intern to tweet for you. If you (or your CEO) do not have time to tweet, that’s fine. Just don’t pretend it’s you.

President Obama dropped a social media bombshell recently in China when he indicated he has never used Twitter (in spite of the fact that tweets from @barackobama were a key component of a very successful social media campaign leading up to the election). I think it’s ok to give the President a waiver on this one. For the rest of us, it's important to be your own voice on Twitter.

3. Use a Real Picture

Just like on LinkedIn, it’s hard to make a personal connection with a logo or someone's pet:

Profiles done right:

4. Don’t Be a Social Media Expert

Mashable recently reported that over 15,000 profiles are marked as social media experts. Based on current growth, there will be 30 million social media experts on Twitter by this time 2012. In other words, everyone is an expert at social media. There are indeed social media experts out there and their credentials are reinforced by their books, blogs, and businesses. Unless social media is your business, my recomendation is profile your niche (e.g. project management, career development) and demonstrate social media proficiency.

5. Produce Your Own Content

Starting your own blog is critical (and super easy) for any professional. Taking the time to research and write your own articles will do more for your personal brand and credentials than probably anything else. It takes work, but once you get into a weekly rhythm, it is a lot of fun.

My best advice for content: Make it quick to read and actionable.

6. Add the Retweet Button to Your Blog Post

You’ve seen the Retweet Button at the top of most blog posts:

The key is to embed the code for this button in your blog post that retweets your Twitter handle, not the generic @tweetmeme handle. It is the third option noted on this link.

7. Make Your Latest Article Your Profile Link

If you make your latest blog post your Twitter website link, new followers will immediately discover the value of your content. It also increases the probability of your most recent article getting re-tweeted by new followers.

8. Help Others

Search Twitter for questions people are asking, and if you are in a position to help, please do so. Don’t just look for questions in your field. I always remember (and recommend) good people who simply respond to questions I may have about movies, the start time of a game, or where to eat in a new city.

(Oh, and still waiting to see Avatar. Up In The Air was very good though.)

9. Ask Questions

Asking questions is a great way to engage new people every day. When someone responds professionally, do not forget to acknowledge the person publically with another tweet.

10. Tweet Often But Not With Rapid Fire

Nobody appreciates someone who floods their twitter feed with a new tweet every 30 seconds. You may be a very interesting person, but nobody likes the person either who walks into a party and does not let anyone get in a word edgewise.

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