Twitter's unique real-time micro-blogging appeal, international reach, advanced search functionality and informal conversational platform positions it as an essential tool for professional speakers wanting to strengthen their international speaking profile. I recently did a presentation at the Professional Speakers Association of Namibia (PSAN) Windhoek Chapter meeting in which I used elements of this article to encourage local Namibia speakers to get on Twitter, to be more active and to leverage the benefit that the platform still has for professional speakers. You can watch the presentation below.
Here are five simple ways (adapted specifically for professional speakers) to optimist your Twitter presence to strengthen your international speaking profile and reach.
1. Optimise your Twitter profile
Your Twitter profile includes your user name, profile photo, header photo, bio, location and website link. Your first priority is to optimise these profile elements. Here are some tips to optimise your profile.
- Your user name needs to be the name which you use as a profesional speaker. If your name is John, but on stage you use Johnny, then Johnny should be your user name for your Twitter profile.
- Add a recent head-shot profile photo that portrays you in the best way relating to your target audience. If your primary audience is business executives and senior managers, using a formal 'head and shoulders' photo would be best. If you are a motivational speaker, a more casual photo with an friendly smile would be your preferred option. Here are 10 tips to create the perfect social media profile picture
- Add an appropriate and eye-catching header photo or image. The image you use needs to best represent you and the topics you speak about. Think of the header photo as a cover of a book or magazine - it needs to reflect what people can expect from your Twitter feed. You can find amazing free images on the Unsplash website or create header images using the user-friendly online design tool Canva.
- Your bio is incredibly important as it will contribute towards your discoverability within Twitter's search function (and that of Google). On Twitter your profile also acts like sign posts pointing people in the direction of the content they can expect. So, important is your profile bio that I will give it its own part in this article.
- Many people leave out the location or add non-specific or generic locations to their profile like 'world', 'earth' or 'everywhere' and this is very counter productive. Twitter uses your location as part of their search function as well as to determine which tweets will show up in your feed. Adding your actual location (country or state is more than sufficient) adds context to you as a speaker on the global stage.
- If you have a website or blog specific to your speaking business or a profile on a speaker specific directory like eSpeaker, you will want to include the website address/url to your Twitter profile. Avoid adding a link that simply redirects to another social platform (like Facebook profile or Instagram account) unless that platform serves as your primary online presence (like LinkedIn profile or an official Facebook Page)
- When editing your profile, twitter gives you the option to add a theme colour to your profile. This essentially allows you to customise the colour of any links on your profile and some minor design elements. This is not a requirement, but if colour is an important part of your brand then add the theme colour that best represents you.
2. Iterate your profile bio
As mentioned above, your Twitter profile bio is an important element of creating an optimised Twitter presence. Your bio is limited to 160 characters so not only will it need to be on point, but it will require some clever and creative editing. Here are some guidelines to help you create the ideal Twitter profile bio:
- Keywords: These are important not only for search but for people who will be reading your bio in general. The keywords you use need to be the most specific 3-5 words which define who you are a speaker. Your keywords should address; who you are, the content and over-arching subject of your presentations, the ideal audience and expected outcomes.
- Personality: Your profile needs to convey your personal presentation style and cadence and give an indication of the type of person you are. Essentially your profile is your 160 character long sales pitch of you.
- Editing: Taking your draft profile and scaling it down to fit Twitter's 160 character limit is challenging, but with some creativity it is doable. Think about replacing the word 'and' with an '&' and using the hash before keywords illuminates the need for commas and an additional 'and' (plus it makes your bio more functional). You can also remove any personal references like 'I' and 'I'm' and abbreviations are also a way to reduce the character count.
Once your bio is done, you now have a framework from which to continually iterate it, and this is important. As you develop as a speaker, the content you share will differ, your primary audience might change and your personal style might evolve. Your Twitter profile bio needs to be iterated to reflect this.
3. Create Twitter lists
The ability to create lists in Twitter is overlooked by far to many users. A list is a custom group of Twitter users/profiles which you can create allowing you to only see the tweets and replies form the specific users/profiles in that group. It is a way to focus the often overwhelming content that can flood your feed. However, apart from being a tool for organising those you follow and their content, list are a great way to strengthen your Twitter presence. People can choose to subscribe to any or your lists and is a great way for people to have curated content on Twitter. Here are some examples of lists which you can create:
- Topical: Create lists focused on the content and topics you speak about. A way to do this is to create lists based on the keywords from your profile bio
- Fellow speakers: Creating a list of fellow speakers (either in your geographic area or who speak on similar topics) is a great way to stay connected and network with them and adds some social proof to your Twitter account.
- Interests: You can also create lists based on your personal interests outside of the topics you speak about. This is a great way to engage with communities that share your passions and is fun way to introduce people to your profile and speaking business.
As lists are comprised of Twitter users, it is often seen as general courtesy to follow those who add you to a list they have created, thus creating lists is one way of building your Twitter following.
4. Like, retweet and reply
More often than not, people complain about Twitter not working for them only to find out that they hardly every like other people's tweets, seldom (if ever) retweet other people's tweets and never reply to other people's tweets. For them it is all about what they post and care little about 'other people' on Twitter. One of the unique qualities of Twitter and a factor contributing to its original growth and current popularity is the ease in which the platform allow you to respond to other people's content. To get the most out of your Twitter experience and to strengthen your international presence it is essential that you are liking, retweeting and replying to relevant content being shared on the platform.
Here are some guidelines to consider regarding engaging with content on Twitter:
- Like: Don't go liking every single Tweet you see in your feed. Rather, like those tweets which relate directly to the topics you speak about or your personal interests (relating back to your bio keywords). Twitter uses your likes as a way to better filter content to your feed, so being more focused on the Tweets you like will eventually benefit you and your Twitter experience.
- Retweet: It is best to retweet tweets which contain the same keywords or hashtags that you have in your profile bio. Doing so will enrich the experience for your followers and those who find your profile though keyword or hashtag searches. As a guide retweet 6 - 9 tweets a day and never more than two directly after each other.
- Reply: Replying to tweets is the best way to engage with people on Twitter and is the perfect way for you to be an influencer and thought leader in the particular topics which you speak on. Giving your opinions, sharing insights, replying with links to resources and tagging others in your reply is a great way to optimise your presence and to connect with an international community. This in turn will strengthen your international speaking profile and increase your online influence.
5. Clean up the crowd
One solid, yet time consuming way, of building your Twitter followweship has always been to follow more people. Although it differences from profile to profile, on average 15-30% of people will follow you back on Twitter. Over time however, you will also see your follower numbers decay and then there are also the fake accounts which Twitter deletes from time to time which will influence you followers count. So, following people on Twitter is a vital part of optimising your Twitter presence. But, there is a catch.
In 2016 Twitter raised the maximum number of people you can follow from 2000 to 5000. This limit is only lifted once your followers exceed those you follow. This might seem like an enormous amount of people you can follow, but the truth is, if you have had an account for a few years you will easily reach that limit. The only way to continue building your followership via following others is to clean up the crowd. This means unfollowing all those inactive accounts, unrelated accounts, fake and spam accounts and all those random celebrity accounts Twitter wanted you to follow when you created your account. This can be a time consuming activity, but can be significantly less time consuming if you use 3rd party Twitter management tools.
Here are two tools that make cleaning out the crowd easier all while saving you time:
- UnTweeps: This free and very easy to use tool allows you to unfollow inactive Twitter users (people who have not tweeted recently) based on the inactive period you set. Its recommend to unfollow users who are inactive for 28 days or more and down to 14 days if you yourself are very active on Twitter. You can do this once a month or as you reach your follow limit.
- ManageFlitter: This service offers a limited free version and various paid subscription options. Like UnTweep, it allow you to unfollow inactive users, but in addition to that, it allows you to unfollow users based on their total number of tweets, number of their followers or accounts they follow, follow rations, their influence, how talkative they are and even unfollow fake or spam accounts.
I am positive that if you apply these pointers to your Twitter profile and activities that you will have a much richer and more enjoyable experience on the platform and by doing so you will strengthen your international speaking profile and reach allowing you to grow your professional speaking business.
If you have any tips and ideas in addition to the above, please leave them in the comments below and feel free to ask any question relating to the above down in the comments.