I follow major publications I’d like to write for sometimes. Great sources. Really successful writers. But otherwise, if you follow everyone, when you scan your tweetstream it’s just not useful in delivering interesting information I want to read.
Amazon Employees Need Writing Skills: Should MBA Programs Require Writing Courses?
Incredibly, Amazon, the business that hires more MBAs each year than any other employer around the world—about double the number hired by runner-up McKinsey & Company—forbids presentations. What’s more, that Seattle firm even precludes the use of its neighbor Microsoft’s charts-and-graphs software, PowerPoint, during meetings as well.
Amazon is home to the chief executive that the Yale School of Management’s Dean Jeffrey Sonnenfeld selected as his “CEO of the Decade,” Jeff Bezos. But America’s biggest retailer isn’t the only mega-company with such a policy. Both billion-dollar firms run by beloved Silicon Valley figure Jack Dorsey—Twitter and Stripe—also focus most meetings on discussions of memos.
Twitter for Writers: Your 15-Step Crash Course
1. Get a useful handle.
If your name is already taken (this reader’s problem), maybe you have a cool branding thing you could do, like my tweep Stefanie Flaxman @RevisionFairy, or my franchise-consultant friend Joel Libava @FranchiseKing. Or you could put an underline in your name like @Carol_Tice. Takeaway: You can put key words about what you do right into your handle.
2. Fill out your profile completely.
Really, it takes maybe five minutes. And it’s so, so important. Why? People search on words they’re interested in on Twitter, and if you have them in your profile, you will appear in their search results. Stuff it with key words about what you do, up to the limit of what it will accept. Mine includes: freelance writer, copywriter, journalist, Top 10 Blogs for Writers winner, writing, helping writers earn, business. If you want to connect with people in your town, include your location.
3. Provide a link to your website.
If you do not have a writer website yet, link to your LinkedIn profile or your Facebook page. Something — anything! Profiles with no links people can follow to learn more are ignored. There really is no excuse for not having a writer website these days, when you can have a WordPress site for $99 from the National Association of Independent Writers & Editors (NAIWE) up and running in about the next 10 minutes. But whatever you do, get your clips organized somewhere and post a link to that site on Twitter.
4. Add a profile photo.
Preferably, a good little photo of you. Or maybe a fun cartoon gravatar of you. But kill off that egg — spammers all have those (I actually just blocked three of them this evening), so you’re giving your profile a very bad connotation sticking with the egg.
5. Don’t use robots to get followers.
If you search on “get Twitter followers,” you will find lots of offers of products that promise to automatically get you hundreds of followers overnight. Don’t use them. Why? These followers are useless — they don’t really want to follow you, and won’t retweet your links.
6. Search for influential people in your niche, and follow them.
There are thousands of people this reader could be following on Twitter. You’ve never followed “all you could.” Many of the top people automatically follow you back if you follow them. Identify the key people and start building a list.
7. Stop constantly marketing yourself.
Twitter isn’t a channel to constantly blare about what you’re doing — it’s just considered bad form. You’ll need to mix links to your own blog posts in with other useful information from other sources in your niche. Once you’re following thought leaders in your topic, you can just scan down your Tweetstream and quickly find things to retweet. Or use SmartBriefs to find interesting articles, or Google Alerts. Presto! You are interesting enough to get followers now. But stop making it all about you, because that’s why no one is interested.
8. Watch your follower/following ratio.
Once you start to accumulate a few hundred followers, it’s time to cut back your list of who you’re following. That’s because just like the ratio of good to bad cholesterol, your ratio of followers to people you’re following is important. When you have substantially more followers than you do people you follow, it tells people you’re interesting. You don’t have to follow people to get them to follow you. That attracts more followers.
9. Promote other people.
10. Use hashtags.
Know how to help your content get found by using hashtags. For instance, if you’d like other writers to see your link, you might post it on #WW (Writer Wednesday), or if you’d like to flatter someone else by promoting them you could mention them on #FF (Follow Friday). People search on these hashtags for content they might be interested in, such as #writer, #writercommunity, #business, #blog.
11. Use lists.
One great way to stay connected to people without having to follow them is by adding them to your lists. For instance, I have probably 800 writers on lists, and 150 thought leaders that might be good future story sources in a “gurus” list. Many people are flattered by getting into lists, so this is another weapon you have besides following.
12. Get a nice background.
People who really operate on Twitter take the time to at least grab a free, unique Twitter background to spice up their site. The really together people have pictures of their products, website logos, and other cool stuff.
13. Understand how other forms of social media work.
When I read “I linked Facebook too I believe,” it leads me to suspect that you don’t understand how other social-media channels work, either. Since coordinating your work in several social-media channels can save you time and help accelerate the level of help you get, you’ll want to learn how Facebook works, too.
If you already excel at all nine of these social media skills, congratulations—you still have work to do. Social is a career path of lifelong learning, and continuing to hone these skills will benefit you at every stage of your career.
I look at skill development as a way to buy yourself time for other things. For example, if you’re already highly organized and efficient, you can spend more time developing one of your weaker skills, building your personal brand through speaking engagements or preparing to move into people management. Additionally, mastery in one area might open the door to your next career move—for example, if you’re phenomenal at data analysis, perhaps you’d make a great social strategist! Or if connection is your jam, you might be an incredible community manager.
Rachael is the Manager of Social Media at Sprout Social and was a mega Sprout fan and user prior to joining the team. Her main focus is to strategize and maintain our own social presence. Outside of work, Rachael is an avid squirrel enthusiast and massive meme-aholic!