By Joe Londergan, @Joehio_
Twitter: it has become a very important and useful tool for growing your professional presence. This is true regardless of if you want to work specifically in social media or in another realm of the sports industry. However, creating a presencethat allows you to grow your credibility and express yourself as a person on this platform can be easier said than done. In this series, I'll offer the insight of several industry professionals, as well as some of my own, on how to make the most of the platform.
In this first installment, we'll discuss the basics of setting yourself up to get what you want out of the Twitter experience.
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So you've signed up for an account. The next step is to create your handle, set up your bio, and adjust your privacy settings. While you don't need to tell your entire life story or open up all your personal info, it will serve you well to be open, easy to find, and available for conversation with other professionals.
Jeff Mason, Communications Coordinator for Athletics at the University of Central Missouri, boils down this process of making yourself easy to find and engage with to a few essential tips:
1. "Use a handle that is as easy to remember as it is to type. If at all possible, find something similar to your LinkedIn’s customized URL or any other nameplates."
2. "For the sake of networking, make your account public and keep your Direct Messages open."
3. "Include relevant hashtags in your bio to show up in searches."
Remember that you only get 160 characters in your bio to describe how you want people to perceive you. Hit all the important bases: who you are, what you do and where, and something brief that allows people to grasp who you really are offline as well.
While you do have limited space in your Twitter bio, also don't feel like you have to fill that space with something overly cliché or that doesn't serve a useful purpose. There's one particular phrase that's a perfect example of this: "my tweets are my own and do not reflect the views opinions of my employer."
Katie Cavender, Assistant Commissioner of Strategic Communications with the Mountain West Conference, details why there's no point in noting that particular distinction.
"While your social media accounts may be your personal accounts rather than being issued by your employer, this disclaimer is unnecessary and can’t be used as protection if you choose to post inflammatory content on your channel."
A perfect example of something that some people may feel the need to protect is political affiliation. At the end of the day, it's your decision whether or not to share political affiliation in your bio. However, while authenticity is key to creating a professional Twitter presence, take note of the fact that many people may jump to conclusions about you if you include too much about this area of your life.
"I am weary about political posts on a professional Twitter account," says David Cohen, General Counsel for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "There is a chance that you could turn someone off by sharing those views."
What it really comes down to for effectively setting up your professional Twitter is putting yourself in a position where the platform can help you accomplish your career goals. In order to do that, you should fully know what those goals are. Write them down and think of what content/behaviors would bring you further to accomplishing them. Veteran sports industry lawyer and managing editor of The White Bronco Dan Werly has used this method to his advantage in building his Twitter presence.
"Maintaining a personal twitter account in a professional matter can be a fine line to walk. As much as I’d like to live tweet my thoughts on the Michigan vs. Purdue football game, it is not the way to advance my professional goals."
"The question comes down to this: What you are really looking to get out of social media? For me, I am looking to build a brand and develop/cultivate relationships with other folks in the industry."
On the note of developing and cultivating relationships, keep in mind that Twitter is a social media platform, with emphasis on the word "social." Don't be afraid to engage with people and have conversations. We'll explore this aspect of creating a professional Twitter presence next week in part two.