Twitter is one of the top Social Media sites and one of the fastest growing. Twitter, and other Social Networking sites, are:
- an essential tool in business for learning, communicating, collaborating, networking, and sharing information and ideas
- a shift in business and education culture on how information is shared, how work gets done, and how learning takes place in an open and transparent way
- breaking down traditional organizational hierarchy and business silos
- changing how organizations communicate and engage with their customers, employees, and other stakeholders and publics
Here are just a few ways Twitter is being used by business professionals, their companies, and brands:
- monitor, sell, support, engage, and prospect with current and new customers
- communicate with employees and management in the organization
- monitor the competition and what people are saying about your company or brand
- recruit for jobs and new positions
- keep up on the latest industry news and current trends
- further discussion and learning at conferences as a live back channel
- network with thought leaders and colleagues to share resources, best practices, case studies, and great ideas for business
- live group chats
Twitter lets you communicate in short (140-character) posts or updates known as "tweets." Twitter is similar to blogging, but it is a shorter format. It, and other services like it, are known as microblogs.
The power of Twitter is the easy ability to find and subscribe, or “follow,” other Twitter users directly. The tweets from people that you follow are aggregated into a stream of updates. You can access Twitter from many services on your computer or mobile phone and it is easy to update.
How do I get started using Twitter in a professional way?
Getting started on Twitter is really easy. There are four main steps:
- Set up an account
- Enter your profile information so people know who you are
- Find people to follow
- Get Tweeting
Step 1: Set up an account
- Go to http://twitter.com and click the big yellow “Sign Up” button.
- On the resulting screen, enter you first and last name, the username you want, your desired password, and your email address. Note - Username should be your first and last name if possible. Your username is your personal brand and should represent you in a professional and consistent way across all your networks. Avoid nicknames and silly handles unless it essential to your personal brand or professional organization.
- Check both boxes to let others find you by email and to receive the inside scoop email updates. Note - Your email will not be publicly displayed.
- Click on Create My Account Note - We will skip to completing your profile information before finding people to follow so that you have a complete profile that looks professional.
Setp 2: Enter your profile information so people know who you are
Twitter is a social network. If you want people to want to connect to you, you’ll need to tell them a little bit about you. Nothing scary; nothing that will compromise yourself; just a little bit so people know who you are.
Log into Twitter, and click on the ‘Settings’ link at the top of your Twitter homepage on the right.
- Time Zone should be set at GMT Eastern Time (US & Canada)
- Select Add a location to your Tweets Note - This is so you can learn about geo-location tagging for marketing purposes in the class - more about that later.
- Tweet Privacy - Do not check this box. Do not protect your tweets. This will limit the number of people who will try to follow you, which can limit the conversations you have – thus reducing Twitter’s potential. Note - There are other easy ways on Twitter to block SPAMMERS or followers that you do not want so you can feel safe and protect your privacy.
- Upload a professional looking picture of yourself. This should be a headshot. Again, think of your personal brand. You want to represent yourself in a way that will make employers want to hire you and business people to take you seriously and be interested in following you. Note - Do not upload an image of an Unicorn, a picture of yourself at a Halloween party or wearing a silly hat, or a picture of you with a family member or spouse or your best friend or boyfriend/girlfriend.
- Enter your real name so people you know can recognize you and potential employers can find you.
- Web - Enter your homepage or blog if you have one (as long as it is professional). If not, enter the website of your area of study at your college or university, or a student organization that you are a member of that demonstrates your professional interests.
- Bio - This is 160 Characters that explains who you are. Note - Be sure to include information that demonstrate your professional interests.
Step 3: Find People / Accounts and Follow Them
When you "follow" someone, each time they tweet, you'll see their tweets on your Twitter Home page. They are notified that you are following them, and will be displayed on your public profile under following. Note - You can follow or unfollow sources anytime. You can also block people that make you uncomfortable or are using Twitter to SPAM.
There are a few simple ways to find people to follow on Twitter:
From the Homepage click on the 'Find People' tab at the top of the screen. You'll see 5 Tabs with ways to find people on Twitter.
- Find on Twitter - You can find people, organizations, or companies you know that already have a Twitter account by searching for a username, first or last name, business or brand.
- Browse Interests - Select the topics you are interested in. Find a few people you want to hear from, then follow them.
- Suggestions for You - Based on your profile and interests Twitter will suggest people to follow. Note - Do not follow automatically. Check their profile and decide if you want to follow them based on their information and updates.
- Find Your Friends - Scan your email address book or contacts to discover which of your friends are already using Twitter. Note - Be careful to not automatically follow your friends. You will not be using Twitter like Facebook but will be using it in a professional way to help you get a job and learn professionally.
- Invite by email - You can invite folks by sending them an email.
- You can use Twitter Search & Twitter Advanced Search to find out what people are saying right now and to find people to follow.
Quick Tip - Deciding who to follow (Look for quality & credibility):
- Check their profile.
- Make sure they have a profile picture, a web link to a credible source, and a bio that matches your interests.
- Check to see how many 'tweets' / updates they have.
- Check their updates to see what they they are posting. Make sure it is interesting.
- See how many people they are following and how many people are following them.
- Click to see who they are following to get ideas for following other people / sources.
- Are they included on other peoples lists as recommended to follow
- Do they have lists of people to get ideas for following other people / sources.
- Converse with them
- Thank them
Quick Tip - You are building a professional network. Twitter is only as good or useful as the network you build.
Following trashy celebrities, gossip, and porn on Twitter will not impress your potential employers and will limit your chances for being hired.
4. Get posting!
You’re all set! There are just a few more things to know before you can get tweeting.
One of the great things about Twitter is the variety of ways you can interact with it. You can use the Twitter website, or you can use many other websites, mobile or desktop applications. We will discuss these other options for Tweeting in class.
First – how to interact with others.
- Reply to that person (publicly) - Type “@” followed by their username, then the message. So, if you wanted to say hi to me, you'd type “@dr4ward hi there!” These are known as “replies.”
- Direct-message or DM that person (not public) - Note - You can only send direct messages to people who you follow, and who follow you.
- Re-tweet (re-post the message that person posted) Often indicated with a "RT" before the post
Quick Tip - What should I Tweet?:
- Not what you had for breakfast
- Not your latest stomach ailment or complaint
- Not updates on your partying or drinking
- A book/article/video/blog/website you are reading related to your professional interests
- Industry News / Events
- Research you are doing
- A conference you are going to
- A class project you are working on
- A question to professionals in your field of study
- Retweet interesting things that you would like to share with your followers
- Thanking people for sharing things you find useful
Quick Tip - Shortening Links:
Because you only have 140 characters you do not want to use long links in your 'tweets' when sharing websites, blogs, articles, videos, etc. There are several ways to shorten these links. You can even add widgets to your toolbar to make it even easier. Here are two of the more popular ways to make long links short, to share and track them:
Once you have shortened your links you can cut and paste them into your Tweet post. This will save valuable character space for your Tweet.
There is much more to learn but this should be enough to get you started using Twitter professionally.
I look 4Ward to your feedback.