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Twitter has many uses when one is establishing an online personal brand. One of the biggest mistakes I see happen is people using it without a Twitter plan. Best-case scenario you waste your time, worst-case you cause damage to your brand. This post will explain:

  1. Why it’s important to have a Twitter plan for your personal brand.
  2. What you need to create your Twitter plan.

Why it’s important to have a Twitter plan for your personal brand

For me using Twitter without a plan is like going to Trader Joe’s in NYC without a grocery list and hungry. Tweet this. If you haven’t been to Trader Joe’s in NYC then you might not see why it’s a big deal. Let me paint a picture. New York is a busy place; there are a lot of people. In the words of Meet Joe Black, “multiply that by infinity, take it to the depths of the earth, and you will still only have a glimpse of what I am talking about.” There are literally times when both lines wrap around the entire store and continue out the door. Yes, people are waiting in line to be admitted to a grocery store. What does this have to do with a Twitter plan?

Line of people standing outside Trader Joe's

Picture from: Wired New York

Bear with me, and I think you’ll find it makes perfect sense. You show up on Sunday evening without a list thinking you’ll do your shopping for the week. Bad move, your timing sucks. You’re not the only person with that idea, and the place is crazy crowded. Next, you didn’t make a list so after two plus hours of shopping you’re almost to the checkout, and you realize you forgot an important ingredient. Remember what I said about the lines? Well, you just wasted hours of your time. After checking out, you realize you have too much food, side effect from being hungry. You have the choice of paying for delivery or paying for a taxi. Either way it just cost you more money. You finally get home, unpack your food, and you realize half of what you bought is junk food, another side effect of being hungry. This is counter productive to all the time and money you spend at a gym to improve your health. This was more or less my first Trader Joe’s experience.

What does this have to do with a Twitter plan? Let me ask you a few questions.

  • What happens if you tweet when your audience isn’t around to see it? Your timing sucks and no one sees it.
  • As with any job or task what happens if you fly by the seat of your pants? You usually waste hours, days, or weeks of your time.
  • If you’re working on something, and you find out late in the process that it doesn’t work, what does it cost to make it right? It costs you more money or more time. If you realize what you’re posting on Twitter isn’t creating the personal brand you desire, it will be costly to change that impression.
  • How would you feel if you found out that what you posted on Twitter sabotaged all that time and effort you spent on LinkedIn, applying for jobs, and sending resumes? I’ll answer this with a question: How would you feel if you found out what you posted on Twitter landed you an interview for that position you applied to? Create a Twitter plan using the instructions below, follow it, and find out.

If you’re one of those people who is thinking this sounds good, but you’re not sure what Twitter is, or how to use it then this would be a good time to check out Twitter for Beginners.

What you need to create your Twitter plan

You might be thinking, “Okay, so I need a Twitter plan, but what exactly does a “plan” entail?” Now, when I go to Trader Joe’s, I avoid busy times. I go with another person when possible so one can stand in line while the other shops. I’ll have a snack beforehand and a list to keep me on track. It literally takes me 20% of the time, I never have to pay for a cab, and my diet supports my overall health goals. Here are the steps that will help you create a Twitter plan that saves time and improves your personal brand. Tweet this out to others who might want help with their Twitter brand.

Your personal Twitter plan will consist of two parts. I call the first part story marketing. This handles what you say to the world. The second part is called audience engagement. This is your plan for how you engage your target audience. Pretty straightforward.

Story Marketing

Branding Keywords

This is critical. Without this you will most likely fall into the category of “going to Trader Joe’s without a list and hungry.” You end up tweeting things that don’t support your intended brand. Need help figuring out what your branding keywords are? Follow the steps in Personal Brands, A Shakespearean View.  The idea here is to create a list of keywords that help define your brand. Then you’ll want to post on topics that align with those keywords.

Style

Your style is the “how” in your Twitter plan. It should be composed of your values, personality traits, and anything that makes you, YOU. Practically, this would include examples of how you might share an event, an announcement, a blog post, or any type of post you might delegate to someone else or a product like Hootsuite.

Rules

Frankly, your online brand can hurt you just as much as it can help you. Establish your rules early on so that you don’t run the risk of sabotaging your brand image. What does a rule for a Twitter plan look like? They can come from your company’s social media policy. If you’re hot headed, you could create a rule that you don’t respond to confrontational tweets until the next day. It might be to thank your followers via direct message. Don’t tweet between midnight and 6:00 AM. You get the concept.

News Posts

Create alerts for new material that supports your brand. If you want to be seen as an expert on “how to shop at Trader Joe’s” then you better be up on the latest TJ trends. Check out these tutorials to learn how to use Google Alerts or Yahoo Pipes to save you time while staying at the top of your game.

You Posts

Unless you’re a celebrity, people probably don’t want to hear about all your daily activities. That doesn’t mean people don’t want to get to know you. Schedule about 10-15% of your tweets to talk about you, your company, your latest project, updates, events you’re attending, speaking engagements, thoughts, quotes, etc. Refer to your Twitter plan and use your keywords where appropriate.

Profile Integration

Integrate your Twitter account with other online profiles. This could include your website, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. That will save you time, and help ensure a consistent story across your online presence. Note: You may have read the LinkedIn and Twitter had a breakup. You can still post to Twitter from your LinkedIn activities, not the other way around.

Tweet Schedule

You don’t want to show up at Trader Joe’s to find out the line goes out the door, and you don’t want to tweet when no one’s watching. Having a schedule in your Twitter plan will keep you tweeting during high potential times, help you spread out your tweets so you’re not annoying, tweet important messages more than once throughout the day or week, and most importantly it will remind you to keep consistent. The “Science of ReTweets” suggests that between 2:00 and 3:00 PM EST are when the most RT’s occur, something to keep in mind.

Audience Engagement

Key Connections

List 2-3 people you want to engage in the next 30 days. Include their Twitter handle and the subject you expect to discuss. By writing these key people down in your Twitter plan you’re committing to finding opportunities to interact with them. Who are these key people? They could be a connection at the company you are applying to, an expert in a field you want to know more about, a possible mentor, or anyone who you feel will significantly impact your life.

Bio-Based Following

You can use Google Alerts to notify you when new people arrive on Twitter with a certain keyword in their bio. You can search them manually via Twitter Search. There are tools like TweetAdder who will do it automatically. Who is your target audience? Experts in a particular field (SEO, nanotechnology, etc.), people who work for a company, or people who live in New York. It depends on your branding goals. Introduce yourself to them; follow them, engage them where opportunities become present.

Subject-Based Engagement

This is really the same as Bio-Based Following. The only difference is you’re looking for people who are talking about a subject. For most people this probably ties in closely with your personal branding keywords. Say you’re an SEO expert and you’re looking for opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge. You might search for SEO ? –filter:links lang:en. This would return tweets talking about SEO that are most likely questions, not sales pitches because you removed links, and in English. Create your searches, and monitor them for openings to show off your expertise.

Reconcile Followers

Schedule time in your Twitter plan to reconcile your followers. Many say it is bad to follow three times the number of people who follow you. The bottom line is to follow people you find interesting. If they become inactive, boring, unenjoyable, uninspiring, etc. then remove them. Create space for those who do inspire you.

Credibility

Schedule 2-4 credibility enhancement activities for the next 30 days. This could be anything from writing a blog post on your expertise to requesting a recommendation from someone you’ve worked with. I’m sure you can see the benefits to having tangible references that support your personal brand. 

It’s official, you have a plan, you’re providing great material, and you’re open to engagement. Now you need to let people know you’re on Twitter. Add it to your LinkedIn profile, email signatures, business cards, presentations, blog, website, org charts, Wikipedia, etc. Want to run your Twitter plan by an online branding expert? Sign up for a free initial consultation. Happy Tweeting!

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