What’s the Point of Twitter?

By | May 31, 2011


Last Friday night over cards with friends I was asked, “What’s the point of Twitter?” Before I could respond, a guy waded into the conversation by saying, “There is no point. Who cares what I had for breakfast?”

I realize so many people feel the same way, and they totally are missing the point and the value of social media.

Talk with anyone who owns their own business, or is a solo practitioner, or is looking for a job. They will tell you the two most important tools they have are their network and their reputation. Both of these are built today with social media. Without question, Twitter contributes to building your personal brand.

How you use social media, what you say, and the pictures you post will all become part of your permanent record. Not participating will also speak volumes about your brand.

“I have a good job, so I have no need to build a personal brand, right?”

There is no such thing as job security in the digital age; therefore, everyone, regardless of current position, should be building their personal brands because your business worth is becoming more and more predicated on your “Google juice” (getting a high representation in a search for you.)

When was the last time you Googled yourself? That’s right, put your name in the search box and see what comes up. How many times did you appear on the front page of the listings? Did you even appear on the front page of the listings? How many pages deep did you have to search before anything about you appeared?

If I can’t find you in a Google search looking for you, you are brand-less to the world. Who you are and what your skills, talents and capabilities are matter in today’s business environment. Companies are shifting to a more talent-focused approach to hiring and promotion than the old school experience-based hiring approach. Why the shift? Because everything is changing so dramatically that experience is becoming of lesser value compared to skills and talents that apply to current job demands. So what if you have 15 years of experience working with outdated technology? It just doesn’t matter anymore.

So how do you make yourself relevant? By building your personal brand.

Building a personal brand is tough. There are over 845 people in the United States named Russell White (and I think every one of them must have a Facebook account.)  One Russell White was a Heisman Trophy candidate out of California. Another is a gospel singer. Yet another is wanted for armed robbery. So how do I jump above this crowded space to grab some Google Juice and make my brand heard?

Start with creating distinction. I use my middle initial (Russell J White) in most everything I do. That gives me traction on Google with Russell White AND I dominate the first two pages of search results when people search “Russell J White.”  Personal branding takes time, consistent effort and participation in a number of social media outlets. In this article I don’t have time to go into all of the most obvious social media opportunities to build your brand such as with LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and the importance of blogging. I’ll save those for future articles, but I do want to answer my card-playing friend’s question about Twitter.

Twitter

How do I use Twitter to build my personal brand, reputation and network? I simply treat it like a conference hospitality suite. Talk a little business, talk a little fun, and share information. Unlike a hospitality suite conversation, people can find everything you tweet, so keep it clean and friendly — use it to develop your reputation, not harm it.

Think before you tweet.

Many employers check the public record of Twitter streams of employees as the proverbial fly on the wall. It gives a great insight to the thoughts of the individual, how they approach life, and what is important to them. It will also reveal how they view work and relationships and how they communicate. Many celebrities and professional athletes forget the permanence of a tweet and how fast they can be shared. It’s hard to believe how 140 characters can ruin a reputation and cost someone an endorsement deal.

So what do I tweet?

Information you think your followers will find interesting. Monday at 9:04 am, I tweeted that Jim Tressel had resigned and included a link to the Columbus Dispatch article. On Memorial Day, thank those who serve us in the military. I have commented on the storms we are having, that I will be attending the next tweetup, and that I will be going to an upcoming concert if anyone wants to join me.

I will let people know where to find this blog article with title and link. The last blog article I posted someone retweeted it (copied the link and sent it to all of their network, thus building my exposure!) Like I said, a little business, a little fun and sharing information.

Respect the power of Twitter and use the medium to your advantage.

My Twitter account name, @BizWizTV, has over 6,000 followers and is growing. I use that account to specifically refer to my BizWizTV.com television channel where I post weekly three-minute videos. Google still sees my name tied to that account as it is registered in my name, so I still get good juice. Your Twitter name should speak directly to either who you are or what you are talented doing or, in my case, a specific destination that is about me.
Solely because of Twitter I have made many local connections with business owners, and I am offered a number of free networking events, lunches and meetings known as tweetups that have helped my business, my knowledge and my network.

As Twitter is maturing, it is far less about “what I had for breakfast” and more about breaking news stories, making meaningful business connections, and gathering meaningful information that speaks directly to my interests. Twitter is a great tool to build your business reputation, build your network, and build your brand. That is why I think it is the most underused tool in the traditional business person’s toolbox.

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