Start Using Twitter To Develop Thought Leadership

Twitter is often a misunderstood social media platform – especially in business.  However, Twitter has unbelievable power and reachthat can build credibility and thought leadership for your firm in your targeted niches, industries and specialty services.  My partner Jennifer Wilson shared five of the important Twitter benefits in her blog post To Tweet or Not to Tweet: What is the Question?

In this blog, I’ll share some simple steps and tips to help you get the most out of this amazing social media outlet:

  • Create a Twitter Account - Open an account and establish a Twitter “handle.”  Mine is @TameraLoerzel (so please follow me and I’ll follow you back!). All Twitter handles have the “@” sign in front of them and some firms choose to have multiple handles for general firm purposes, careers/recruiting, and interacting with the press, for example.  Each firm leader – especially a practice or niche leader or specialty service leader – should have their own personal handle, too, so you can start to be positioned as a “thought leader” in your area.  Be sure that your handle is easy to remember and reflective of what you’re representing.  Keep it as short as you can, too, or it will take up too many characters for others to feature in their Twitter posts, called “tweets.”  A couple best practices to keep in mind are not to “protect” your tweets so they remain available publicly.  Also, be sure to set up a strong password that includes a combination of numbers, alpha-characters and symbols to prevent you from being hacked. 
  • Decide what your objective is – My objective is to promote myself and ConvergenceCoaching in the leadership, accounting, marketing and social media communities with an interest in health and fitness, too.  When you decide what your objective is, your posts, follows and followers would then relate to your objective. Write a 160-character introduction of yourself and/or your entity, which reflects your objective.  This introduction is the first thing that potential followers read and search engines will key off of, so carefully consider yours. 
  • Make it personal – Don’t skip this step (because so many people do)!  Upload a picture (or logo if it’s an organization’s account) and choose one of several standardized backgrounds offered. Or, if you want to be more creative and you’re adventurous, you can customize your background with images, pictures, or other graphical elements. Whatever background you choose, be sure it isn’t too distracting and allows others to easily read your posts. 
  • Follow others - start by following your firm and colleagues.  This will typically cause them to “follow back” which starts to build your following.  Then, find all of your favorite trade publications like the @AICPA_JofA and begin following them to get the latest industry news within the CPA profession and within the segments you serve.  Under #Discover on your main Twitter menu, you can then find people in your areas of interest, service line, industry niches, etc. by searching on construction, dental, not for profit or other special interests in your geography. 
  • Begin tweeting - Post or “tweet” your first message and be sure that it is something of value keeping your objective for the platform in mind – a great quote, important news, or an interesting tidbit).  Avoid saying “this is my first message” because everyone does that! Then, retweet interesting content (which is essentially “forwarding” others’ tweets to your followers), share firm news, interesting statistics or survey results, promote events, or share product/service ideas (sparingly). Remember, if you don’t tweet or if your tweets are not deemed of value, people will not follow you (or they won’t for long.) If your goal is to tweet a few times a week, set days and times so you can be sure to keep your commitment and consider using a scheduler like HooteSuite and TweetDeck to write posts at night and send them at certain times during the day. 
  • Increase visibility - One way to increase the odds that your posts will be seen is to use a “hashtag.” A hashtag is a “code” that someone establishes for a specific topic or community and it is preceded by a “#” sign. For example:
    • If posting a quote, you can use #quote
    • If posting about accounting, you could use #CPA
    • If posting something about accounting marketing, you can post to the AAM hashtag of #AAMKT
    • If posting something specific to the construction industry, you’d use the hashtag of #construction or #notforprofit for not for profit
    • Many conferences have hashtags, too, so you can post to them and follow the conversation while you’re at the conference (by putting that hashtag in the search box to find and follow it) or if you can’t make it and want to keep up on the buzz. 
  • Manage the volume of your Twitter feed - Establish lists to categorize those you’re following.  Under you name, select Lists and then create a list for your industry, accounting or other areas of interest, and then when you follow someone, add them to the appropriate list. You can choose to make your list public or private. You’ll increase your visibility when you share your list but some may be more “personal” so you may choose not to. You will know that your content is of value to others when you begin to be listed, too.
  • Acknowledge the content value of others – Interact with others and really practice the “social” aspect of Twitter by participating in these Twitter best practices:
    • retweet (“RT”) someone’s content which forwards it to your followers
    • Give someone a shout out via a custom called the “Friday Follow” (hashtag is #FF) where you list various Twitter handles of those whose content you recommend to your followers
    • Mention people in your Tweets (using their Twitter handle, but don’t forget the “@” sign)
    • Always thank or acknowledge those who give you RT, FF or mentions in a Tweet thereafter (if you begin to get many, you can group your thanks together in one or two tweets).

Start taking advantage of contacts and connections available to you at your fingertips (that you might not have access to otherwise!) by setting up your Twitter account, following others, tweeting and positioning your firm’s thought leadership.  You’ll be surprised – and delighted – at the results!  What step will you take next?