While a large number of college students are on Twitter, many struggle using this social media channel as a personal branding tool. Last week, one of my students within the @Loyola_SoC asked me a great question after class: What are some best practices you recommend for college students on Twitter? Here is my answer:
Claim your Twitter handle (URL).
Be strategic about the handle you choose, and claim it before someone else does. Choosing your full name or something that is catchy/professional/clearly you is always your best bet. I went for the latter, choosing @HeatherTrue over @HeatherTrulock, but ultimately the choice is up to you.
Define your brand.
What is your story? Why should people follow and/or interact with you on Twitter. Take the time to develop your product (Brand You) for this channel. As a college student, you may not be an expert in your field of study/potential career path; however you do have knowledge, ideas, and experiences that have value. Build from this.
Complete your profile.
Seems obvious, however I cannot count how many student profiles I have seen that are unfinished. A company would never launch a product into the marketplace incomplete; Brand You also needs to be at 100%:
- Your photo needs to be professional and consistent, matching any other profile images on other social media channels being used as a personal branding tool.
- Make sure your bio is complete; if you are searching for an internship and/or full-time position, this is the place to let people know.
- Update your location.
- Include the URL to your website (which can be anything from your LinkedIn page to your professional/branded website).
Develop your marketing plan.
Now that your profile is up and running, how are people going to be able to find you? Develop both a promotion and communications strategy for Brand You on Twitter:
- Where and how are you going to promote your account (both on and offline)? This can include anything from your email signature to your resume.
- How often will you be communicating via Twitter and what will you be talking about? While there is no magic number, many agree that one should tweet at minimum once a day; maximum five times daily. It’s a fine balance of not dominating your followers’ feed while not getting lost in all the daily chatter. Regardless of what number you decide upon, make sure that your posts follow the 80/20 rule. Simply put, 80% of your posts focus on the professional side of your personal brand; 20% focus on the personal side. Social media is meant to be social – your followers value your personality just as much as your expertise.
- What Twitter Groups will you get involved in? Twitter groups are a great way to network, develop your personal brand, and gain professional development. Search for hashtags in your areas of interest or utilize a 3rd party site such as Twibes.
Engage and network.
A stagnant profile is almost worse than having no profile at all; actively use Twitter in order to reap the benefits of this channel. In addition to your own communication and involvement:
- Follow new prospects. A good place to start is with college recruiters, your target companies, and any tastemakers in your industry of interest. From there, see who they are following and/or re-tweeting; these may be accounts to follow as well. This will allow you to build out your network while learning more about your field and/or profession of interest.
- Do your research. Have a big interview around the corner with your dream company? Check out their Twitter page for up-to-the-minute news. Is a campus recruiter/company of interest coming to your campus for a presentation? Find them on Twitter to learn more about them and @reply them sharing your excitement for the presentation/interest in company. Just a few of the many ways you can interact with organization in a professional manner using Twitter.
Thank-you @laurakujava for inspiring this blog post – I hope I was able to answer your question (and help out others in the process)!
Heather serves as a Career Advisor for Loyola University Chicago’s Career Development Center. In her role, she assists students and alumni with their overall career development through individual counseling, group workshops, and in the classroom via her Career and Life Planning Lab. Heather’s areas of expertise within the career space include networking, social media engagement, ePortfolios, resumes, and personal branding. Prior to working in Career Services, Heather worked for Sony Music in the areas of Marketing, Sales, and Promotion.She received her BA in Communication & Culture from Indiana University and her MA in Higher Education & Student Affairs from The Ohio State University – GO BUCKS! You can connect with Heather on Twitter and LinkedIn.