Plenty of prominent CEOs maintain high-profile Twitter accounts, such as Richard Branson, Eric Schmidt, Jack Welch and Marisa Mayer. If you aren’t already up and running on Twitter, you’re missing out on a tried-and-true method for connecting with existing and prospective customers – and why pass up an opportunity like that?
Here are six tips for setting up a Twitter account and creating content that resonates with both your target audience and potentially thousands of other followers as well:
1) Choose a good photograph or get one taken. Twitter followers gravitate toward a face and name, not the empty “egg” profile Twitter sets as a default for a user’s account. Choose a head-shot (or have one taken) that communicates warmth and accessibility. Don’t use a photo from your college graduation ceremony or something that aims for “ironic” or “amusing.” People want to know what you look like now.
2) Fill out your personal profile. Twitter makes it easy to complete your bio and profile information. Select a user name that aptly describes you and your personality (incorporating your brand name if it feels right.) Consult your marketing team to ensure that the information you provide is aligned with the company’s overall brand message. Be sure to include a link back to your company’s website.
3) Tweet content of value, both personal and professional. As with most CEOs who are new to Twitter, you’ll quickly find there’s a wealth of content to offer your growing base of followers. Start with what’s happening in your business – new products, updates, high-level executive hires, etc. Just remember that Twitter is not the place to be blatantly promotional and it is a real turn-off for followers.
If your company blog offers “how-to” tips revolving around your product or service, share links to those posts with your followers. A good rule of thumb is, focus on content that can improve the lives of your customers (and people in general).
How personal should your tweets get? The short answer is — not too much. Your followers want to know something about your personal life (hobbies, travel, sports, favorite foods, etc.), but only in moderation and carefully interspersed among tweets relating to your business. If you can find a way to connect your personal interests to your business, all the better.
One key rule of thumb to keep in mind: Stay away from politics. Unless there’s a direct correlation to your product or service, you run the risk of alienating followers if you get into the political realm.
4) Be yourself. People know “authentic” when they see it, so any attempt to fabricate a flashy Twitter persona will likely fail. Keep your tweets free of industry jargon and express yourself as you normally do.
“Don’t overdo the personal tweets and social media messages, but remember that you’re posting as a human being, and that most people prefer to do business with other human beings, not faceless corporations,” says Nathalie Lussier, creator of the Website Checkup Tool.
5) Respond to comments in a timely manner. Twitter is all about conversations and engaging people in discussions about all manner of topics. When someone comments on one of your tweets, respond in a direct message with a polite “Thank you”; or whatever else may be appropriate for the initial tweet comment received. The same holds true for anyone who shares one of your tweets with their own followers.
In that same spirit, when you read a tweet of value and relevance to your industry, re-tweet it to your followers and keep the conversation going.
Be sure to give the original tweeter credit by either either re-tweeting them directly (as shown in the example above), or simply adding your own commentary before the re-tweet (as shown in the example below).
In general, focus on engaging with others in your field, rather than simply accumulating followers — an approach that offers significantly greater ROI.
6) Find a social media managing tool to help you schedule your posts. To save time and make your efforts more efficient, find a social media management tool that helps you track conversations, measure results and schedule your daily posts. Hootsuite is the most popular social media management tool, but there are many others out there that offer similar services.
“Lead by example,” says Reid Carr, President of Red Door Interactive. “If you are asking your staff to tweet, it’s important that you practice what you preach.”