6 Essential Content Strategy Hacks

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E-commerce is more than just what’s hip and happening.

It’s the future of business.

A 2017 survey quoted on Statista.com showed that 40% of Internet users in the U.S. bought goods and services online several times per month, with 20% making those purchases weekly.

Experts also predict that by 2020, retail e-commerce sales worldwide will have doubled from what they were just two years ago in 2016.

The takeaway?

You need great content to bring in clients, but even more importantly, great content strategy to drive the gears of your online business.

Strategy #1: Appeal to search engines and readers

Earlier in the decade, keywords determined website page rank. But according to DYOmapper.com, they’re now one of approximately 200 factors that Google uses to make that call.

You still need to pay attention to SEO. Make a list of 7 to 10 keywords for your business and use them for page titles, sub headers, URL and meta-descriptions.

But don’t overrun a web page or blog post with keywords. You’ll end up devaluing the content because nothing kills content flow like repetition.

Keyword stuffing will look like you’re trying so hard for algorithmic validation that you don’t care about the actual people visiting your website.

Focus instead on content that is as interesting and useful enough that readers might want to share it across social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Strategy #2: Strive for maximum content digestibility

Readers love dynamic content. They also like lots of white space.

Even if you write long blog posts of 800 words or more, consumers will stay with you – if you know how:

  • use bullet points and/or subheads to highlight your main ideas
  • limit paragraph length to one or two sentences
  • Bold important words and phrases

These strategies will help eyes/brains register ideas and digest content quickly.

Remember: consumers like what they read to go down smooth as good food and drink.

Strategy #3: Problem solve rather than hard sell

Your business exists to solve problems.

So your content should always focus on what your goods/services can do for people. Or how they can make business goals more achievable.

Keep this point in mind for how to organize your website as well. What you put online should exist to help, not create more problems.

Make it easy for your visitors to:

  • navigate your pages
  • click through to external links
  • find product/service information
  • make purchases
  • contact you

But nix the hard sell.

Show consumers why they should want what you offer, yes. Give them a call to action that references your business, yes. Then let them decide.

To quote Copyblogger founder Brian Clark, “When you focus on the outcome you expect from your content, you are almost invariably failing your readers.”

Put your readers/website visitors first. Always.

Strategy #4: Stay relevant through trend-integration

Effective content strategy includes staying on top of what’s hot. Trending topics can range from current events (including seasons and holidays) to news of the day.

Integrating trending topics into your content will make your business and the goods/services you sell more relevant. And it will show you’re awake and aware.

But watch out.

Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow says that buyers are “overwhelmed with spin, hype and superficiality and they’re working to de-BS their lives. There’s almost a visceral reaction to phoniness.”

In other words: find natural connections between your business and what’s happening. Otherwise you’ll look like you’re trying to sell Christmas trees for the Fourth of July.

Strategy #5: Reference key influencers…and become one yourself

There’s only so much you can do to promote your business.

That’s why good content strategy also involves social media, which Forbes writer Ryan Holmes has called “the single most effective way to reach audiences.”

Ways of using social media to help boost your visibility include:

  • sharing content on major sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube
  • guest blogging on sites relevant to your industry
  • backlinking to content by influencers/thought leaders
  • advertising on sites like Facebook, which now has more than 2 billion users

The more you tap into the power of social media influence, the more you build your own online authority.

And the more you build your authority, the more trust and interest you build in your brand…which can only mean more sales for your business.

Strategy #6: Unleash the power of e-newsletters

E-newsletters may be old news. But don’t count them out because they’re “just email.” Or because email is so last century.

Email is in fact one of the few reliable touchstones in the increasingly fractured world of online marketing. According to a recent study, more than 90% of American adults use email.

And Forbes reports that a whopping 80% of businesses report that email is directly tied to their primary revenue.

Taking the time to craft great e-newsletters is well worth the time and effort.

So before you engage in content creation for your business, think about:

  • what that content will look like
  • where and how you want to use it

Then move forward, full speed ahead.


7 Ways to Build Social Media Influence


You have a company website and blog that you update with the zeal that only true believers can understand: in the 24/7 online world, freshness counts.

But a web and blog just aren’t enough. A strong presence on social media is also crucial for both branding and building client relationships.

But with so many people making noise on social media sites every minute of every hour of every day, how can make people pay attention to you?

Strategy #1: Determine which sites look to offer the best ROI

Half the battle is figuring out where your voice stands the best chance of being heard.

Forbes writer Jia Wertz  suggests that all companies (and especially manpower and capital-poor startups) be strategic about which sites they choose.

Check the demographics reached by each platform. As an example, Wertz reports that 60% of Snapchat users are young women and men aged 24 and younger; 30% of Facebook users are mature women and men aged 25 to 54.

Does the information you find align with the general target audience you want to reach?

Also try to determine the frequency and the time of day/days of the week users connect with a particular site. This will give you clues about when to post for maximum visibility.

Strategy #2: Publish on a regular schedule

Once you’ve figured out which social media sites are best for your brand and message, you’ll need to work out a posting schedule.

Entrepreneur and influencer Neil Patel suggests that for blogging, how often you update your site should be a function of what you want to accomplish.

His observation is also applicable to other types of social media.

To grow a following, frequent posting (e.g., several times a day on Twitter and Facebook, once a week on YouTube) may work best.

To build trust and loyalty over time, more infrequent posting (e.g., a few times a day on Twitter and Facebook; once or twice a month on YouTube) may be the better solution.

Whatever you do, keep it consistent. You won’t create engagement otherwise.

Strategy #3: Give people a reason to follow you

Motivating people to follow you is part of how you build engagement. To make this happen, you can:

  • offer informed opinions on your area of expertise
  • show the depth/range of your knowledge

Share (or backlink to) articles, reports and studies written by other major influencers and/or brands relevant to the products/services you provide.

Show that you’ve done the research and know your stuff.

At the same time, don’t forget that social media has a lighter, more personal side.

An ability to inspire or entertain can also motivate others to listen to what you have to say.

Strategy #4: Form alliances with established influencers

Influencers are area experts who have built reputations online or off (or both).

They can be people in your network, professionals you admire but haven’t met or people who work in areas complementary to your own.

You need to stand near them and connect.

Ask questions. Engage in dialogue. Show you have ideas on topics of interest. If the spirit moves you, suggest a project you both can showcase on social media.

Collaborating with established influencers can introduce you to new audiences, offer valuable learning experiences, and bolster professional credibility.

All of which can add immeasurably to your own influence quotient.

Strategy: Create (an) online conversation

You also build your influence by starting — rather than just joining — a pre-existing conversation.

Try bringing up  a little-discussed issue. Or expressing a unique opinion. Or posting controversial content that sparks debate.

These approaches require equal doses of professional expertise and self-confidence. You’ll also need to be ready to manage exchanges that could heat up.

But seeking out the spotlight has its rewards. Followers are much more likely to remember who you are…and want to listen to more of what you have to say.

Strategy #6: Focus on engagement before follower numbers

Too many people make the mistake of using large social media followings as a barometer of influence.

Social media experts will tell you that the best indicator of influence is engagement.

The number of likes, shares and comments site posts get over time is one simple way to measure influence across most social media sites.

On Twitter, a person’s impact can be measured by how many lists they are on. According to Social Media Explained author Mark Schaefer, if that number, divided by the number of followers equals 5% or more, that person is an influencer.

Strategy #7: Become an online community-builder

Another way to build social media influence is to create user groups. If you’re willing to take the lead, Twitter and Facebook are especially good host sites for these types of communities.

Groups can develop out of professional interests. These types of communities are most likely to directly impact your identified area of expertise.

BUT: don’t discount the possibility of creating a group based on connections to an industry (rather than a profession), a shared passion, or a specific geographic location.

Say you are a Seattle portrait photographer. You could start a Facebook or LinkedIn group for:

  • Seattle portrait photographers
  • professional photographers in Washington state
  • people/firms with connections to the world of commercial visual art.

Communities like these could help you build influence in sub-niches that could one day benefit from interaction with your business.

Social m influence isn’t just about who has the biggest following. It’s about earning the right to be heard amidst the din of online noise and distraction.



Keywords & Your Online Marketing Strategy

Keys on a wall Keywords are just that: linguistic tools that unlock. What they open is e-business potential.

Typically, keywords define the ideas and topics your content covers. They come in two varieties: one or two-word phrases (head terms ) and longer phrases (long tail keywords).

But…a recent study by SEMRush  revealed keyword inclusion is not quite the “thing” it was a decade ago.

So what value do they have for your business?

Let’s break it down.

Yes, the SEMRush research showed that nearly one-fifth (18%) of the top-ranked pages that turned up from targeted online searches didn’t contain the keywords entered.

Forbes writer Jayson DeMers suggests that this is because Google now searches internet pages by looking for qualities associated with the search term entered. It’s also showing a preference for what DeMers calls  “natural and conversational language.”

Google algorithms are dynamic: that’s nothing new.

While search results are different than what they once may have been, the one-fifth that can’t be predicted is not the whole enchilada. What about the other four-fifths?

That’s why small businesses still need to invest time locating relevant keywords to use for blog posts and company web pages.


Think about the topic you want to tackle in your blog post or content you want to put up on your website.

Then think about your prospects.

How is what you’re writing about/posting relevant to them and their needs?

Say you are selling plastic shower caps and are writing a post on how yours are not only nice to look at but also made from recycled materials.

A starter list could look like this:

  1. shower caps
  2. cute shower caps
  3. eco-friendly bath accessories

Browse, shop or buy? 

Once you have a list, ask yourself to whom they would be most applicable among the types of prospects out there.

Entrepreneur writer and pay-per-click expert Richard Stokes suggests that companies doing online business organize all the keywords they use into three basic categories:

  1. browser – just looking
  2. shopper – actively comparing brands, prices etc.
  3. buyer – actively intending to purchase

Once you do this, you can begin to analyze each term.

Check and Cross-reference

Free keyword databases like SERPs and WordStream can help immensely with the process of keyword creation and research.

For example: a keyword search for “shower caps” on SERP offers these results:

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KEYWORD #1 – shower caps

As the shortest, most general keyword to describe this product,  “shower caps” has the highest volume of traffic. While it’s popular, the down side is that more established companies are likely occupying the first page of Google rankings for that keyword.

KEYWORD #2 – cute shower caps

The second term, “cute shower caps,” falls third on the SERPs list. It’s not as popular but still a term that prospects are using.

The takeaway here is that you might be better served using this term (or some permutation of it, like “cute shower caps for kids,”) rather than rely on “shower cap.”

You could also use it to help create a niche for yourself…and eventually own it by consistently producing quality content that emphasizes the aesthetics of your product.


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KEYWORD #3 – eco-friendly bath accessory

The third term, “eco-friendly bath accessory,” is general in how it refers to “bath accessories” but specific in how it refers to “eco-friendly.”

The phrase could be useful for those browsing for bath accessories to see what’s out there as well as those looking to buy within that market.

The volume listed is small. But a quick Google search that adds the term “shower cap” shows that a market exists, even if it is one that is primarily promoted by/on Amazon:

Screen Shot 2017-12-28 at 6.05.52 PMWhen you are doing this kind of keyword checking, consult at least two reputable databases. Then cross-reference your findings with what you actually see listed on Google.


 Once you’ve got all your basic data, you’ll need to think about what’s important to  your goals for the post and/or relevant pages on your company website.

Let’s look at our keyword list again.

The first search term “shower caps,” is general — and therefore much more competitive to rank for.  So while your post or page may turn up somewhere on Google, it will likely not rank on the first page of a Google search.

A post that references “cute shower caps” will attract everyone looking to style in the shower. BUT: because you’ve made this phrase more specific than “shower caps,” and because it’s not a high-volume keyword, your chances of ranking more highly on Google are better than if use the more generic keyword.

The revised keyword phrase “eco-friendly bath accessories shower caps” is extremely specific and nichey. So posts/pages that use this phrase will likely rank higher than “shower cap” or even “cute shower caps.”

And higher rankings mean greater potential for getting your product/service in front of the people who want them.

To sum up: of your business is new and/or you’re just making your presence known online, one strategy could be to mix in keywords intended for browsers, shoppers and buyers.

If you’re more established, home in on keywords that more aggressively target

  1. your desired niche
  2. shoppers and buyers most likely to be interested in your specific product/service

Compiling a keywords master list that are most relevant to your business and drawing from it as needed could also be useful…so long as you don’t get complacent.

Revisit, review, revise and expand: your business will thank you for it.


7 Tips for Writing Dino-mite E-Newsletters


No doubt you’ve heard respected sources like Entrepreneur magazine claim that the e-newsletter is a “dinosaur”  that’s too fossilized to drive results.

Or maybe you’ve come across articles on LinkedIn like “Why the E-Newsletter is Dead and Why That’s a Good Thing.”

BUT: dig deeper and you’ll find that reports of the e-newsletter’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Both Entrepreneur and LinkedIn suggest that it’s newsletters with too much verbal/visual content and/or too many links that don’t work.

So it’s the format that is (or can be) the problem. Not the newsletter form or how it’s delivered.

Still not convinced? Consider this.

An October 2017 Biz Report.com article reports that 74% of consumers prefer to receive branded email communications (read: company newsletters) over all other types of communication.

This includes those that come from social media and messaging apps.

The takeaway here is that with a little strategy and savvy, e-mail newsletters can benefit your business.

But how can you make the most of the newsletter form?

Tip #1: Work that subject line

Don’t just write: “Monthly Newsletter.” Or “Hello, It’s Me.” That’s a surefire way to get your efforts deleted.

State exactly what your letter is about. But also make your readers wonder: you’ve only got a few seconds to make an impression, so make the most of that time.

Here are some examples from successful online entrepreneur Lauren Hooker of Elle & Company:

  • “Why I deleted 7,000 subscribers from my list”
  • “Are you buying into the success myth?”
  • “My worst fear came true”

All three titles are short and compelling. They make you want to learn more.

Tip #2: Ask: “What’s the point?”

Before you even compose a newsletter, know why you are writing it. Do you want to inform? Make a good impression? Get click-throughs to your website?

Once you know the objective, go back to the beginning and write with that aim in mind. Or work backwards to the start.

This kind of focus will also help unify content and help you determine appropriate calls to action (CTAs) to use throughout the newsletter: “Sign up for X to learn more.” “Click on this link to visit the company website.”

And so on.

Tip #3: Be informative

A good newsletter offers subscribers “news they can use.” This can include:

  • company/industry updates
  • fun facts/anecdotes
  • tips, tricks and tools
  • (sections from) a recent blog post
  • images/videos
  • links to podcasts and webinars
  • infographics
  • product/service reviews
  • client testimonials
  • resource lists

Show your subscribers that you bring value into their lives. And that you want to help.

Tip #4: Keep to one topic

Following from tips #2 and #3 above, use your newsletter to talk about ONE topic. Resist the temptation to follow New York Times publisher Adolph Simon Ochs’ dictum and present “all the news that’s fit to print.”

Your newsletter isn’t the NYT. And your readers have attention spans of about 8 seconds…which is less than a goldfish.

One strategy you may want to use is to segment your email list. Platforms like MailChimp allow you to target and filter contacts.

This means you can send newsletters to those individuals with whom your one message/purpose is most likely to resonate.

Whatever you do, be brief and get to the point. Your readers’ attention spans — or lack thereof — demand it.

#5: Drop the sales pitch

The access you have to (potential) client inboxes is a privilege, on par with having access to subscriber living rooms. If you seem like you’re “barging in” with too much hype, subscribers may revoke that privilege by unsubscribing from your list.

The best approach is to keep any sales news down to a minimum and in the style of a report: “We’re having a 25% off sale on product/service X all this month.”

Save the sales pitch for promotional emails ONLY.

Tip #6: Go for scannability

Because your readers have such short attention spans, you need to make your newsletters easy on the eye. And easy to digest.

Ways you can accomplish this include:

  • creating 1 to 2-line paragraphs
  • highlighting keywords with boldface type
  • keeping word choice
  • using short, direct sentences

If you decide to use images — and you should use a few since humans process visual information 60,000 times faster than text —be conservative.

A good rule of thumb is to follow the 70/30 rule: 70% text, 30% image. Including too many visuals may cause email systems to mark your newsletter as spam.

Tip #7: Show consistency

Be very clear in your opt-in regarding how often your subscribers can expect to hear from you. Every other week? Once a month? Once every six weeks?

Whatever you decide, say what you mean and mean what you say.

If you send more than you promised, your readers may see it as spamming and opt out of your newsletter. Send less and they may ignore you.

Making the most of newsletter potential means adapting the form to the needs of internet-surfing subscribers. Do it and you build business-sustaining relationships.

Don’t…and your newsletter may well go the way of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

6 Do’s and 6 Don’ts for Better Business Emails

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You use email every day to communicate with colleagues, prospects, clients, vendors and more.

But are you really making the most of this tool?

More than likely, you don’t think twice about it. Maybe it’s time you did: according to a 2016 University of Maine School of Business study, email can foster highly constructive interactions between senders and receivers.

Researchers found that the 468 emails they collected and studied over 44 weeks fell into three categories that did the following:

  • shared knowledge
  • built interpretations
  • identified/resolved problems

What they ultimately concluded was that email’s unique qualities — its editability, its ease of replication and its asynchronous nature — can significantly enhance face-to-face communication.

So what can you do to make your emails more effective?

Here are six basic emailing do’s:

Do #1: Create a brief subject line

Use the subject line to say what your email is about in as few words as possible. Think of it as a kind of headline for your reader.

Do #2: Get to the point

Write a short (3-5 line) email that gets to the point quickly, especially if you are seeking a yes/no response.

Do #3: Use a conversational tone

Unless you don’t know the recipient (or that person is of higher professional status than you are) there’s no need to use formal titles like “Dr.,” “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” or “Ms.”

But don’t “hey dude” the person, either.

Assuming you have had some previous contact with your addressee, “speak” your email as though you were having a business conversation. First names are usually fine.

Do #4: Know who’s receiving what

Are you sending an email to one person? Several? Make sure you know exactly who will receive the message.

It’s embarrassing to send an email to a group that was intended for only one person in that group…and time consuming to have to send a follow-up explaining the oversight.

Do #5: Proof the email

Run a spell and grammar check. But beware: technology has its limits. A spell checker, for example, can only tell you whether a word is spelled correctly. It can’t say whether it’s being used properly.

An effective old-school way to proof is to read your email out loud — your ear may catch what your eyes can’t see.

Do #6: Limit emoticon use

Cute, colorful and fun, emoticons are all the rage. But they’re also out of place in business communication. Unless you know the recipient well, resist the temptation to use them.

Now here are six emailing don’ts:

Don’t #1: Send an email without a subject line

Never leave the subject line blank. Your recipient may think your email is not important and either trash or ignore it.

Don’t #2: Email when angry, upset or tired

Have your wits about you. Business emails need to remain neutral.

Like drunk texts, emotional emails — or those that could be construed as offensive — can come back to haunt you. You want to get things done…and solve problems, not create them.

Don’t #3: Treat emailing like a competition

Take time to compose an email, especially if it’s important.

And if you receive a group email? Strive for thoughtful responses because you have something to say rather than an “I-win because-I-answered-first” attitude.

Don’t #4: Bring up unrelated topics

Stay focused: one email, one subject.

If you find that you’re talking about more than one subject or going off on a tangent, rein it in.

Remember: the shorter you keep your email, the less likely you’ll be to stray.

Don’t #5: Hesitate to ask for help

Not sure about email tone or clarity? Send a copy of your email to someone you trust and ask him/her to eyeball what you’ve written.

Remember: as the 2016 University of Maine study cited earlier suggests, email is an effective tool for collaboration. Use this strength to your benefit.

Don’t #6: Make recipients work for information

Does your email use acronyms or terms that recipients may not know? Explain them.

Does it refer to something that exists in picture/photograph format? Include the image.

Does it refer to websites? Include relevant URLs/links immediately after the mention: e.g., Psychology Today online (https://www.psychologytoday.com/).

You need to be especially careful if you use a mobile device to send email. Phones in particular can be tricky because the input keys are smaller. This can lead to making more grammar mistakes and sending information to the wrong recipients.

Email is one of the great conveniences of the information age. But to make it work for your business, you need to understand not only what it can do, but the best ways of harnessing its potential.





5 Tips For Business People Who Say They Aren’t Writers

Blog-Post-#11Your daily meat is getting clients, negotiating contracts and doing the work that inspires you.

And writing? A lobotomy has more appeal than working with words.

I have news for you. That attitude just won’t fly in today’s business environment.

Statistics for 2017 show that 51% of Americans prefer to shop online and that e-commerce is growing at approximaely 23% per year. That’s a lot of business!

BUT: if you’re trying to tap into the Internet as a source for clients, it’s nearly impossible to get away from doing “word work.

Whether it’s emailing clients, putting together e-newsletters, describing your services on a company website or writing blog posts, you have to write.

So what can you do to make that job a little easier?

Tip #1: Make writing your new can-do

Your one great strength as an entrepreneur is your can-do spirit. It takes guts to go out there and get those clients!

So why not take that personal asset and also invest it in your writing?

Say, “I am a writer.” Make that your new mantra. Repeat it while looking into a mirror. Say it out loud to your dog. And to the people you know. Do this every day.

There’s power in naming. The more often you say something, the more you naturalize it to yourself.

Tip #2: Speak your writing

Some business people say they hate writing because they just can’t articulate their ideas well. Yet when they talk, many of these people never seem to be at a loss.

More than likely it’s because talking is something all of us do every day. And if we make “mistakes”? Nobody notices. Talking is an approximation of what we’re thinking, and people accept this.

So when you’re at a loss for what to set down, try using a voice recorder.

Or get a voice-activated writing program like Dragon Dictate, which allows you to speak your narratives directly into a Word document.

Tip #3: Love that cut-and-paste

People often think that in order to write, they need be able to start at a beginning that leads them without detour to a conclusion. This is what I call “straight line thinking.”

And you know what? It’s wrong.

Like any creative endeavor, writing is a process. So expecting your writing to come out a completed whole the first time just won’t work.

So get that cursor moving even if what you write is something you won’t use or will later wind up somewhere else in your narrative. It really is OK to move around text as you write.

Tip #4: Use drafts as play spaces

Having preconceived ideas about how you need to write can set up other barriers, too. It can make you think that you have to write in complete sentences and paragraphs, all in one go.

You don’t.

When you’re drafting — and for longer pieces, you will need to draft — just spit it out.

Never mind that what you write looks like some skeletal cross between a list and a poem. You can go back and work out the details later.

A draft is your own personal sandbox. So go ahead, play with those words. Arrange them on the page any way you want. It’s your space.

Better still, because your sandbox is a low stakes zone, your perfection-craving inner critic will be more inclined to ignore it…which will give you the space you need to write, unimpeded.

Tip #5: Strive for good enough

Trying to find the “perfect” words is a zero-sum game and one you need to avoid.

Psychology Today.com writer Robert L. Leahy has identified two forms of perfectionism. In maladaptive perfectionism, people criticize themselves every time they’ve made a mistake. Worse, they ruminate on those mistakes and only to feel even worse about themselves.

Adaptive perfectionism is much better. It allows room for imperfection, yet still lets you aim high and work toward your goals in manageable — even fulfilling — ways.

It’s just like Power of Positive Thinking writer Norman Vincent Peale once said: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

But to get there, you’ve got to work it.

Writing isn’t easy, even for professionals. But with a few adjustments in (1) how you think about writing and (2) how you do it, you can make words work for you.



3 Twitter Elements You Can Use to Help Your Business Branding


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.

For a long time, super-successful freelance writer and entrepreneur Carol Tice used a cartoon drawing of herself as her Twitter icon. I use a Bitmoji image.

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 newbiesstumble. 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 OKso 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.