Some think Twitter is for the birds. No doubt, it is not always easy to find value in the monotony of tweeting and retweeting. Engagement is difficult. Conversations are short. Connections are fleeting. So, why bother?
Top Ten Digital Do's & Don'ts: Twitter for PB&J.
10. Don't get all cutesy and clever with your Twitter Username.
Use your real name. @ILoveDucks or @HoorayForMe may say something about you to career stakeholders. However, the brand is you. Your name is yours. So, for personal branding you should use your real name as your Twitter Username. The whole point of personal branding is to define, build, and reinforce your personal reputation.
Ideally, your name and Twitter Username should match the name as used on your resume/vita and across other social media. Consistency is important for personal branding and personal SEO (i.e., what others find when they Google your name).
If your name is taken as a Twitter Username, then use the closest variation possible by including a middle name or initial, or by adding a period between your first and last, or by reversing last then first. At a minimum, make sure the name that shows with your Twitter Username is the name others would use to find you in a search.
9. Do define yourself with a professional and career focused profile.
The idea behind personal branding is that your name is associated with an image. Whether as intended or not, this image is how others that know you would describe you. Or, as said by the founder of Amazon.com:
"Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room." ~ Jeff Bezos
Today, your "personal brand image" also includes what others say or find about you in a Google search. Fortunately, you can take digital control of your personal brand with use of social media.
How you want others to see you is your "personal brand identity." For you to build an online personal brand identity requires that you give considerable thought to how you want others to see you when they review your Twitter profile: (1) Who are you? (2) How do you want others to see you in the social media? (3) Why should others follow or connect with you (career focus topics or content marketing strategy? (4) And, what is your point of difference (what makes you unique)?
8. Don't use Twitter as you do Facebook.
"As personal branding goes, Facebook and Twitter should only have one thing in common: the letter "e".
Facebook connections are for family and friends and the sharing of more daily, personally relevant, and private content.
Twitter connections are for personal learning, personal branding, job and career stakeholders, and the sharing of professional, career relevant, and public content.
While it is great to show some personality and personal interests with your profile and social sharing on Twitter, keep it minimal and controlled. Remember, the public is watching, along with current and potential employers, bosses, professors, professionals, clients, and other job and career stakeholders.
7. Don't junk up or muddy the Twitter streams.
There are two Twitter streams of most importance for personal branding and the job search.
One is the default stream seen when someone visits your Twitter profile. This Tweets stream shows your tweets, retweets, and any @replies prefaced with a space or character. These social shares are also what a follower would see in their Home stream.
The second, if chosen by a profile visitor, is the Tweets and replies stream. It shows all your activity including your @reply conversations, thank yous, and comments directed to others.
The Tweets stream is important because it can be used to confirm to a potential follower or employer your career focus/interests and how you have defined your personal brand identity in your Twitter profile and resume. When someone considers a connection with you on Twitter, the more professionally focused will review your profile and your social shares to see if there are common interests and if they can gain from the follow.
The Tweets with replies stream is important because it can show others that you are engaged and not just using Twitter for link dropping. This stream may be reviewed by potential followers to determine your social value or worth.
On first impression, if your social shares on Twitter are quickly seen as too personal, one-sided conversations, unprofessional, and/or irrelevant, then that potential connection may be lost, forever.
6. Do give others a reason to follow and follow-back.
Since there are plenty of reputable newspapers and other sources with large numbers of followers that social share links to real-time news, it is best for personal branding that you tweet as a magazine and not as a newspaper.
In other words, your social sharing on Twitter should be how-to or helpful, recent, and career-focused. It is important for your tweets to confirm to others and potential employers who you are and what you are reading and learning to advance in your career.
If you are a soon-to-be or recent college graduate, a potential employer can learn a lot about the timeliness, focus, and seriousness of your career interests by reviewing your Tweets stream. If this stream is about anything and everything or riddled with the personal and irrelevant, then that sends quite a different message to career stakeholders.
Always find good things to share and always share the best of the good. Use AllTop.com to find the best blogs on your career focus, and subscribe to the RSS feeds using Feedly.com to organize the sharable content on your career focus topics and subtopics.
Always find good like-minded people to follow and always retweet the best that they share. Use Followerwonk.com and Twitter.com/search-advanced to find the best people sharing topics in your career focus, and use Unfollowers.me to identify and unfollow those that try to trick you into following back and then unfollow you.
5. Do tweet with professionalism, proper format, and source attribution/mention.
While the encouragement is to tweet what is on your mind, the majority of your tweets should add value to the Tweets stream. The most professional way to add value is to share good content that reinforces your personal brand identity and identifies the source. This type of tweet has an expected format, include: (1) the title of blog post, (2) source attribution/mention that will show in their Notifications stream (Twitter Username of author and/or source), (3) the shortened link, and (4) a relevant hashtag to make it easier for others to find your tweet.
For example: "6 Ways to Get Your Tweets Noticed by @AskAaronLee via @SMExaminer http://bit.ly/1qpY3s7 #Twitter."
While there are many ways to tweet, most important is to make it easy for a follower to quickly judge the potential value of the content and for the source to know of your social share.
4. Do make a list and check it twice, daily.
As your number of Twitter followers and following grows, so grows the anxiety of potentially missing something in your stream. Your Twitter Home stream can quickly become chaotic and unfocused. To regain control and minimize time while maximizing effectiveness, the solution is in the use of Twitter Lists.
You can organize your own Twitter List(s) or follow another's Twitter List. The first priority for personal branding and job search is to create lists that showcase your career focus and interests.
For example, when I discover someone that shares good content about social media, I follow them (or follow-back) and add them to my social media Twitter List.
And so it goes for topics that include: personal branding, inbound marketing, marketing professors, social media marketing professors, and job search/career. These are my go-to career focused and personal learning networks of Twitter Lists that also reinforce my career interests and personal brand identity.
Also, a Twitter List of your hobby or special interest is an excellent way to show career stakeholders a bit of your personality. If desired, with a Twitter List you can follow the tweets without following the Twitter person.
3. Don't overlook the opportunity for job search research.
Yes, while most job/promotion seekers know of the importance of doing background research on a company prior to a job or promotion interview. It is important to confirm to a job interviewer of your true interests in a company for job and career advancement. However, few realize the strategic opportunity to use Twitter for doing background research on the people in a targeted company.
When beginning a job search, you should identify the key decision makers in your targeted company for potential employment and add them to a Twitter List (public or private; follow or not follow). By regularly scanning this Twitter List for each of your targeted companies, you will hopefully get a feel for what the company decision makers are reading, thinking, and sharing. You may also add to your list those in your targeted department and anyone you have met or will potentially interview in your job search.
2. Don't just lurk to learn, engage.
My favorite use of Twitter is as a personal learning network (PLN). If all I did was lurk and learn through use of Twitter Lists, then that is reason enough for me to use Twitter. However, Twitter can be so much more if you make attempts at social engagement (or interaction with others).
With efforts to social engage, you can increase your professional connections (get more follows and follow-backs), amplify your personal learning and thinking through conversations and chats, and better interest job and career stakeholders in visiting your other social profiles. As a job searcher, it is particularly important to direct them to: (1) LinkedIn where the personal brand you and your resume qualifications are on showcase, and (2) to your blog where your creativity, communication, and thinking skills are on demonstration.
The primary rule of thumb for Twitter social engagement is:
"To get social engagement, you must give social engagement."
If you: (1) retweet, (2) favorite, (3) ask career relevant questions, (4) add someone to a list, (5) thank them, or (6) share their blog posts with their Twitter Username in the tweet (Mentions), you and your tweets will get noticed and provide you with opportunities for social engagement in Twitter and across to other social media.
1. Do remember, Twitter is all about the balance.
The successful use of Twitter is about the balance.
First, you must balance your time. Consistency of use is important to project an image of professional use for personal branding. It does little good to quickly tweet out 10 good content finds in the late evening when your target market is not around. Learn to schedule your tweets using the Buffer App or HootSuite Hootlet.
It is also of little value to only visit Twitter once a week. Daily use is recommended, even if only to learn, review results, follow, follow-back, and engage.
Second, you must balance your tweets. While there are many rules of thumbs and opinions on this, first and foremost, share less of your ego and more of what you are learning in your career focus. Keep your one-sided @replies in your Tweets with replies stream and let your personality shine but not dominate your social shares.
You are what you learn and social share, and your Twitter profile and social shares define your desired personal brand identity.
So, you should regularly review your own Tweet stream and ask yourself: "Would you want to follow, promote, or hire this person?"
Twitter is versatile and is used by many in many ways.
Friends connect with friends and use Twitter as they do Facebook, though with less privacy.
Brands connect with customers and use Twitter for communication, though with more self-promotion.
However, if Twitter is used for personal branding and job search, its use requires a more controlled career focus on personal learning, profile definition, and social sharing.
What are your suggestions when using Twitter for personal branding and job search? Please comment.
Image credit: by Denny McCorkle