I read a statistic recently that only 36% of all the tweets on Twitter are of any interest to users, while 25% of them are actively disliked – especially if they contain an over-use of #hashtags. The rest are ignored entirely, like a middle-aged man with a sagging paunch and chronic halitosis at a singles night.
When you take a look at what’s being launched into the Twittersphere though, it’s hardly surprising there’s little to excite the reader; a quick glance online had me regaled with such bon mots as, “Note to self: don’t go for a run first thing in the morning without breakfast,” (if the note is to yourself why share it with others?), “Tidied my office yesterday in readiness for a visitor. He’s not coming now but I like my tidy desk,” (is that the epitome of a non-event?) and “Hmm, phone battery down to 80% already – think I need to swap to a new one,” (genius).
Now I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of the occasional lapse into ‘SFW?’* but I like to think that, taken as a whole, my tweets are in fact strengthening my personal brand online. (I use Hootsuite to schedule a proportion of my Tweets so I can consciously think about the messages I’m putting out there and the clues they give about me, rather than rattling off any old dross.)
But it wasn’t always that way; when I started using Twitter I had no clear idea what I wanted to achieve with it and was therefore clueless about what to write…until I came across Mark Shaw (@markshaw) who said there’s three types of tweets you should be doing:
Tweet type #1: Sharing information
These tweets are about spreading the reach of things that you have found to be of value that others might too – links to blogs, recommendations for applications or services, discount offers. This sends clues about your personal brand that you’re interested in things other than yourself.
Tweet type #2: Engaging with people
This is about establishing your credentials and expertise, so answering questions that people have asked and giving advice and support fall into this category. The result is you boost your personal brand by being seen as an expert in your field as well as someone who’s willing to give your time helping others.
Tweet type #3: Social chit chat
The example tweets I used above fall into this category because they tell the reader what you’re doing at that moment in time. But here’s the bit that people seem to be missing: this is only really of interest if you are a celebrity who lives in a bubble of glamour (though being the elderly curmudgeon I am I’m not sure it’s even that interesting then!)
So when Lady Gaga tweets, “Looking forward to this weekend. Shooting my parfum campaign and commercial with Steven Klein,” I’m pretty sure there’s not going to be too many of us who’ll be doing the same (I shot my parfum commercial last week, with David Bailey dahling!) But when someone tweets, “Taking my kids to Legoland tomorrow,” the effect is somewhat lacking.
Which isn’t to say social chit chat doesn’t add value to your brand – it does because it lets people know you’re human. Just don’t make it the entire focus of your messages otherwise you’ll come across as me, me, me…and that’s not what social media is all about.
And if you’re still not sure, ask yourself the question “SFW?” about every tweet you pen, because if you can’t come up with a good answer, you shouldn’t be sending it.
Let me know how you use Twitter and if you agree (or indeed disagree) with my ramblings.
*A phrase coined by one of my clients: so f*cking what?