Top business magazines like Forbes and Entrepreneur encourage businesses to use Twitter for brand promotion. But what if you’re still trying to define your brand in the first place?
Twitter can throw people. You get exactly 140 characters to “speak,” so whatever you say has to be succinct. And if you want to get noticed, it needs to be creative.
That’s a tall order in such a small space.
But the constraints also force savvy users to get bare bones about who they are and what their brand is about.
Which takes us right back to where we started: brand. What does that term even mean?
One of the best definitions I’ve seen comes from Forbes writer, Jerry MacLaughlin. He says: “It’s what your prospect thinks of when he hears your brand name.”
So what does this all have to do with how you can use Twitter to help define your brand identity?
Element #1: The profile icon
Let’s start with the image you upload to represent your business.
For business-oriented social media platforms like LinkedIn, company logos make great profile icons. A clear image that shows you, the person behind the business, smiling and looking squarely at your audience, also works.
Both tell your audience that you’re a professional. And that you enjoy your work and take pride in it.
But because the Twitter platform encourages a kind of no-holds barred self-expression you won’t see on LinkedIn, you can afford to let your hair down.
Fun images — like the one of you wearing your favorite mirror shades, or the one of that amazing burrito your Mexican eatery clients just love — work as well as (or even better than) more traditional ones.
They’ll tell your audience that you’re a professional who’s not afraid of being yourself. Better still, they offer your audience a more intimate glimpse into who you are and what you (and your business) value.
We both value playfulness and humor…and want our respective audiences to know that.
Whatever you do, ditch the egg profile image placeholder that comes with every new Twitter account. And do it post-haste.
Otherwise your audience will assume that you’re not serious. Or that you just don’t care.
Element #2: The bio
Unlike the Twitter tweet space, the Twitter bio space has 160-character limit. But don’t go spending those extra 20 characters all at once.
Entrepreneur Neil Patel offers excellent advice for how to generate a great Twitter bio. He suggests you use one word — I say up to two or three — to describe your:
- profession – “entrepreneur,” “psychologist,” “vegan caterer”
- target niche(s) – “online marketing,” “mental health,” “food”
- favorite pastime – “globetrotting,” “wine-drinking”
- best accomplishment to date – “NYT bestselling author”
In addition, you should also find a few words that:
- say something intriguing about you – “tree-hugger,” “argyle sock-collector”
- show you are connected (via the @ sign) to another social profile – “@HuffPost contributor”
- are unusual/memorable in and of themselves – “paleontology freakasaurus”
Twitter offers a separate space where you can upload URL information for your professional website. Use it. Your website address should repeat either your Twitter name or your @handle.
If you have a second website, don’t waste bio space on it. I made that mistake, only to realize later on that it was TMI — too much information.
Shoot for brand unity, not information overload. And don’t feel compelled to use all 160 character spaces the Twitter bio allots. The pithier you are, the better.
Truthfulness is also important. Too Many fakes live on Twitter: estimates put the number at between 5 and 10%. You don’t want to be taken for one of them.
Element #3: The tweet
This is where a many people — and especially Twitter newbies — stumble. Trending hashtags and the never-ending tweets coming from your connections can distract and make it easy to forget why you’re even on Twitter to begin with.
Suddenly you find yourself tweeting about politics. Or playing hashtag word games. Or uploading pictures of the cute thing your dog did with his squeaky toy this morning.
These kinds of tweets are OK…so long as they’re not stealing the spotlight from your business. Show you’re a real person, but be balanced. And strategic.
You need to foreground your business first. Use your 140 characters to:
- call attention to new company blog posts
- share useful links to content about your indusry
- mention noteworthy company news
- advertise specials/promotions/webinars/podcasts
- talk about Twitter connections important to you/your company
- solicit opinions about some aspect of your business that you want to improve
Mix it up. Intersperse word-based tweets with imaged-based ones. Most people use Google images or smartphone shots/videos. Unsplash is a great resource for high quality, unique, totally free photos that can help make a great impression on your audience: I use it all the time.
For retweets, make sure the content has something to do with your business or what you and your business believe in. Or shows your involvement with others who have businesses/professional interests similar to yours.
Twitter is social media, after all. You’re part of a community not a lone ranger.
To sum up: because of how the Twitter platform operates, what you say and do has to be more strategic than on other platforms. But more strategic thought and action can mean more success in defining your brand.