Twitter 101: 5 Easy Ways to Get Started
As a digital marketer, I love Twitter – for work and for my speaking engagements. So, it’s no surprise that fellow speakers ask me “Do I really have to be on Twitter??” And my answer may surprise you: Not if it doesn’t bring you anything.
Note, I’m not saying no. I often do tell clients, you don’t have to be on Twitter. But, I say that because Pew Research states that even with its steady growth, only 19% of adult Internet users are on Twitter.
But for live events like seminars and conferences, Twitter is a natural partner. Twitter helps connect people who are sharing an experience in real time. For speakers, that means we can take advantage of the benefits of Twitter at just about any event where we speak.
Twitter isn’t just for marketing your presentation before the show, although, I hope you’ll do that, too. It’s for hearing audience thoughts and feedback. It’s for connecting to the individuals in your audience, before and after your presentation, and strengthening those relationships. It can even lead to referrals for future speaking engagements.
I know what some of you are thinking: How the heck do I even get started on Twitter? How do I know if I’m doing it right? Who can say anything in 140 characters?? Here are the five Twitter tips I’d recommend for speakers:
- Claim your name. If you haven’t yet, create a Twitter account and try to claim your own brand and/or name as your Twitter username. For example, I own @jessicabest and @bestofjess (my longtime personal brand).
- Watch first. See how others use Twitter, especially at events, to get a feel for style. Remember: You only have 140 characters, which is about enough for a single thought. Follow people who craft funny, informative, impactful or helpful tweets.
- Check out event hashtags. Find out what the hashtag (#) for your next speaking engagement is. For example, #NSA13 was the hashtag for this year’s national NSA Convention. Watch for people who may be looking for which session to attend or who are excited to hear yours. After you speak, listen for the open (and free!) feedback and to see which parts of your presentation people especially resonated with. Thank people for positive feedback and respond to questions attendees may have had.
- Respond any time someone uses your name. It’s not very likely that you’ll see every single tweet posted about you. But, if you have your Twitter handle in your slide deck and someone wants to talk to you or about you, they’ll probably use it. And when they do, they’re hoping and maybe even expecting you to be listening and respond. You don’t have to answer every tweet, but even highly popular speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk try to answer most.
- Tell people where you’ll be. Once you’re more used to Twitter, tweet about a speaking engagement you have as it’s coming up. Try to use the event hashtag. Don’t make all your tweets about your speaking engagements or even about yourself, but give a little love before you arrive.
It’ll take a little time investment to get the knack of the perfect tweet. Yes, you’ll spend some time looking at a screen when you could be connecting in person, but I’d say there’s too much to gain with Twitter to not dive in. If you could hear constructive feedback practically in the moment that would help you build a better presentation in the future, wouldn’t you listen? And if you could hear rounds of compliments in addition to your raucous applause – better yet, keep and share those compliments long after the applause dies down – I’m guessing you’d do that, too.
I’ll admit it’s not for everyone. And if you genuinely hate it, you won’t invest in it and it won’t bring you much in return. But try it before you decide, perhaps at your next two-three speaking engagements.
The easiest way to get started is to create an account and just start listening. You don’t have to comment right away. You definitely don’t have to watch it every day. If you spend at least a little time while you’re at an event checking in on what’s happening on Twitter, you may be surprised what it can bring you.