Hacking Your Twitter Presence

20 minutes per day with three simple tools

Twitter is easily one of the best platforms for professionals to stay current on trends, connect with like-minds, and elevate their profile to a wider audience than just friends and family on Facebook.

But Twitter, with its 140 character limit, lack of intuitive features and heavy-user jargon, can be daunting at first for the busy, uninitiated professional. Fortunately, there are a few tools and techniques to take you from Jedi to Master in no time.

My basic formula for Twitter engagement involves three elements: Discovery + Sharing + Engagement. Activating these elements for 20 minutes each morning will make using Twitter successfully easier than making the Kessel run in under 12 parsecs.

Discovery

Regularly sharing and commenting on great content is foundational to an active Twitter presence. But, you have to find that content first. This is Discovery.

Tool of Choice: Flipboard. Flipboard provides a way to curate the mountains of content generated each day by bloggers, reporters and other content producers into a magazine-style feed just for you. By “following” specific categories of content, you’ll see only what matters most to you. For me, these categories include topics like “online marketing” and “thought leadership”. Pick categories that reflect your own interests and personal/professional brand, and let Flipboard be your personal Tusken Raider.

Some of the topics of interest that I follow

Pro Tip: Spend 10 minutes each morning browsing content in the Flipboard categories you follow. Select 2–3 of the best pieces of content to share with your followers on Twitter. It’s best to select content where you’re able to add a fresh take or unique point of view.

Bonus: Not only are you locating content to power your Twitter presence, you’re actually staying on top of the news and latest thinking in the areas that interest you.

Sharing

Once you’ve selected your content and have something to say about it, it’s time to Share with your network.

Tool of Choice: Buffer. Buffer makes sharing easy by allowing you to share in the context of the piece of content. Buffer plugs into your browser. This means you can, directly from an article you want to share, click the Buffer button in your browser’s toolbar to generate a pre-written Tweet. This Tweet featuring the article’s headline and even grabs any relevant images from the article that you might want to include in your Tweet.

Buffer’s simple composer for posting across social media channels

Pro Tip: Spend another 5 minutes editing your Tweets to include a little more context. This could include relevant hashtags, @mentions or a witty quip. Then, use Buffer to schedule your posts so that they’re delivered throughout the day… ideally at times when your own network is most active on Twitter (e.g. mid-day).

Bonus: Buffer’s convenient browser plug-in capabilities make it easy to continue sharing other content as you come across it throughout your day. Also, Buffer allows you to share across your social platforms, so as you’re posting content to Twitter, you can also add Facebook or LinkedIn, for example, with one more click.

Engagement

Social media is a conversation, so you don’t want to be the one doing all of the talking. Engagement is all about interacting with others in your network (or beyond) to learn from others while elevating your own profile.

Tool of Choice: TweetDeck. TweetDeck has a number of great features, but one of my favorite is the ability to create custom timelines. So instead of the main timeline provided in Twitter, TweetDeck allows you to display specific content that interests you. For engagement purposes, I’ve created a special column that shows only tweets from a selected number (<100) of highly relevant accounts to my professional life that I follow on Twitter.

Interacting with my “top 100” accounts timeline I setup in Tweetdeck

Pro Tip: Spend 5 minutes every morning reviewing your custom timeline in Twitter. When you find content that interests you, you can favorite, retweet or reply to that content directly from TweetDeck. My goal is to have at least 8–10 of these interactions like this each morning. Even more awesome is that you can add your retweets, for example, to your Buffer queue so that they are also scheduled to happen throughout the day.

Bonus: Direct social media engagement builds a connection between your brand and folks on the other side of the interaction. Also, scanning the conversations of others in your network is a great way to Discover content you might want to Share with your own followers via TweetDeck.

TL;DR:

  • Discovery: 10 minutes on Flipboard
  • Sharing: 5 minutes on Buffer
  • Engagement: 5 minutes on TweetDeck
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