I’ve labeled 2013 as the year of consolidation where people and organizations will be decreasing the number of social media platforms they use to focus on the ones that have the most impact. This trend will combine with the personalization trend. Andrew Davis best describes this trend in his book Brandscaping:
It’s not possible to have a social interaction with a brand. It’s incredibly inauthentic. No matter how much I love a brand, the notion that I can have a meaningful “interpersonal relationship” with a brand is idiotic. But I can have a relationship—a deep, meaningful relationship—leveraging today’s social media, with a person from a brand.
In 2013, companies will begin tapping the talent and social media abilities of their employees. As part of this shift, it will be important for each person to have their own strategy for each platform. This blog will cover how to develop a personal Twitter strategy.
There are two main sides to Twitter. There is the content that you take in (intake) and the content that you push out (output). Within these two sides, there are multiple connection points that can occur between different users. But the main question to start with is this:
What am I trying to accomplish with Twitter?
Some people use Twitter as a feed to view a specific set of news, others use it to connect to industry/thought leaders, and others use it as a connection tool.
On the intake side, what do you hope to learn? Who are the thought leaders, journalists, authors, bloggers, etc. writing about your field? Begin by connecting to these people on Twitter.
My personal goal is to connect to online marketing thought leaders on Twitter. Every time I read a good article about online marketing, I follow that journalist. Any time I read a great book about this topic, I follow that author and tell the author what I thought of the book using Twitter. Same goes for podcasters, bloggers, and thought leaders.
By choosing the content I intake, I begin to learn about the important books, magazines, conferences, podcasts, topics, challenges, and opportunities in my field. In a way, I am joining a very specific world with a very specific goal of learning as much as I can about the topic.
For those of you who have had a Twitter account for a long time, you may need to decrease the number of people you are following so that you can better capture the specific content you hope to intake. As an alternative, you can set up Twitter Lists to better curate your content.
How do you find the right people to follow? Start with a Google search. There are many “top 10” lists out there for top executives, bloggers, industry leaders, etc. who are on Twitter. You can also search within Twitter’s search feature based upon keywords. Begin following those who have the main keywords in their bio. The best way to find the right people to follow is to look up a competitor or a thought leader that you already know and begin following the people that person follows. Twitter “following” lists are public so utilize that as a tool. Finally, any time you meet someone at a networking event, hear an expert speak, read an article by a specific author, listen to a podcast – as long as these people are relevant to the goal of the content you hope to intake, begin following them on Twitter.
Once you have a solid list of people you are following, start listening. Begin accessing your Twitter wall and see how these people write on Twitter. What are they sharing? What #hashtags are they using? Who else are they referencing (follow those people as well).
I liken this to attending a networking or business meeting. Say you show up 15 minutes late to an event and you see two people already deep in conversation. Do you walk up to them, hand them a newspaper article, and walk away? That’s what most people do on Twitter. No, you walk up to those two people, you politely listen to what they are currently talking about, and then you join in when you have something of value to add to the conversation.
The conversation is already happening on Twitter. Your role is to find the conversation, join it, and add value to the conversation. It’s ok if that process takes time.
One side of Twitter is intake and the other is output. The important question to ask for output (what you “Tweet” on Twitter) is who are you trying to reach? The group you are connecting to as part of your intake should be similar if not the same to the group you are targeting with your Tweets. There may be slight differences (perhaps you want to only reach journalists but want to intake content specific to your industry), but on the whole, these audiences should overlap to some degree.
Once you have decided on who you would like to reach, make sure every Tweet is aimed at that group.
How to start
Once you have your intake and output goals set, your goal is to focus your Twitter account completely on that mission. The best place to start is by having a clear bio on your Twitter page. You have 160 characters to write out your bio. My suggestion is that you break this bio down into two sentences that answer the following two questions:
- What you do and where you do it? (Vice President @braves)
- Why I should follow you? (Follow me for exclusive news about the Atlanta Braves from the field each game day)
This should be set up before you begin following people because they will receive an email stating that you would like to follow them and here is a little information about that person. You should also include your location and a URL link to your website in your profile. Again, if you are following specific people, you want to give them a reason to follow you back.
Additionally, that second statement should be your mission statement for your Twitter strategy. Always refer back to that to make sure you are staying on topic on Twitter. The more focused you are, the better connections you will make using the platform.
From there, be sure to select images unique to your goal for both the background image and the header image.
There are three general rules you should follow on Twitter:
- Grandmother Rule – if you would be embarrassed if your grandmother saw what you were about to post, don’t post it.
- Political Rule – Stay away from overt politics or religion. You are not going to change anyone’s mind on Twitter. I’ve tried.
- Whole Foods Rule – In the past, the founder of Whole Foods used to go on forums extolling the virtues of Whole Foods and painting a bad picture of the competition. The problem was, he did this under a pseudonym. Don’t do that. Be who you are and don’t bash the competition or other people for that matter.
Your tweets are public. What you tweet can bring shame, get you fired, or break up a marriage. Be wise when using this platform.
Tweet me your Twitter questions @ErikRostad
The content above is from a presentation given at the Metro Atlanta Chamber on Monday, January 28, 2013 by @ErikRostad