Twitter was completely invaluable when it came to setting up my business. I used to dash home from my stressful job, sit on my bed and spend hours just soaking up information. Twitter took me to places I never knew existed and now I even get work from it. It’s a slow burner so don’t expect results straight away, but I’ve been hired through it a number of times so I must be doing something right!
I love how I can randomly discover websites by experts on SEO, marketing, freelancing, blogging and so many other valuable sites written by people who really know their stuff. By absorbing their advice I learn how to do all sorts of things that make me a better freelancer.
How to be the shizzle on Twitter
1) Chase links and learn stuff
The people I follow are a mine of information and they share links that take me to sites I would never have found by myself. If you’re reading an interesting post and see links to other articles then click through and see where they take you – then click on other interesting links on that site and jump around the Internet like a mad thing.
2) Follow leaders
Once you’ve clicked through to sites you’ve found useful you’ll begin to see who the experts are in the fields you’re interested in. If you follow them and the people they admire and recommend, after a while you’ll start to see who the big players are.
I highly recommend using the free Feedly RSS Reader to keep up to date with all these sites in one place and then use the info as your Tweet fodder.
3) Lurk and learn
When I first started using Twitter I used to just lurk and read tweets from other people. By reading up on how to use Twitter and then seeing how other people used it, I could see who was doing it well and who wasn’t. I then styled myself on the good ones.
4) Connect with other VAs
It’s vitally important not to see other VAs as the enemy. I’m friends with nearly all the other VAs in my area and we call each other for advice, do skill-swaps and sometimes even pass on work that we either haven’t the time for, doesn’t interest us, doesn’t fit in with existing clients or how we want to work, or simply isn’t what we specialise in.
I’ve learned a lot by listening and engaging with other VAs on Twitter – plus they understand what it is I actually do for a living when many other business owners (even freelancers) don’t have a clue.
5) Be useful and share
This is really important and applies to all social media platforms, not just Twitter. It’s absolutely essential to add value (in all areas of life come to think of it), and not to be someone just taking up space. So consider who might be reading your updates and what information you can provide to help make their lives easier.
People always want to know what’s in it for them, so be useful.
If you love someone else’s content and think your followers might get some value from it, then share it with them. It gets you on the radar of the original tweeter, goes towards you getting a reputation as a useful resource, and is content you didn’t have to source. A win all round me thinks.
6) Don’t post pointless, boring nonsense (at least not all the time!)
Just taking a quick look at my VA Twitter list, I can see lots of self-promotion posts, people retweeting websites selling jewellery or other gifts, and lots of those silly ‘daily newspaper’ feed things that nobody cares a fig about. I know I often post random stuff and things about my day, but I try hard to make sure I also share a lot of interesting info that will help people.
7) Engage and build relationships
If you ask people questions on Twitter they’re usually more than happy to give you the answer. Once you create good relationships with quality people you can post polls and surveys, find out what apps people use to make their lives easier, and ask all sorts of questions.
Twitter folk happily share resources and information and Twitter is definitely one of the best free resources out there.
8) Link to your own content
Regularly link back to your own website, blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page etc. You’ve put the time in creating great content (it is great isn’t it?) so you want people to see it.
Don’t be too salesy and spam everyone with constant self promotion, but point people in the direction of content that will solve their problems and showcase your knowledge, services and expertise.
9) Don’t follow everyone back
Make sure that you’re seen to be following quality people and not just every Tom, Dick and Spambot. Any Twitter user worth their salt will take a look at your followers and who you follow so regularly check through and make sure you look like a pro.
You don’t need to follow everyone back (anyone who unfollows you because you’re not reciprocating isn’t worth knowing anyway) plus you don’t have to actually be following someone to add them to a list.
10) Create lists
I may write a more detailed post on this at some point, but you can use Twitter lists (private ones if you’re calling them ‘potential clients’!) to create a secret list of your ideal target market. You don’t need to follow someone to add them to a list and you now have a way to see what your ideal client is up to, what challenges they’re facing and how you might help them.
This is a big part of the method I use to get new clients actually.
Sometimes you meet someone at a networking event who you might not see again for ages, so Twitter is a great way to continue those conversations and stay in touch. When you meet a new contact, ask if they’re on Twitter (or get their username from their website) then reintroduce yourself and continue getting to know them better.
Always try and physically meet up with people you chat to on Twitter for coffee though. This is how you properly get to know people and find out what problems they have. I’ve gotten clients, referrals, advice, help and even friends this way.
12) Cut down the noise
You’ll find it really useful to add people to lists as soon as you start following them. This way you can filter by list (in Twitter.com or in Tweetdeck etc) and see more easily what’s going on – plus you’re able to target specific lists as part of your marketing process.
This is good advice for all social media platforms, so if you haven’t already tagged or listed people, then slowly chip away at your contacts and get them all in lists because it really is worth the effort.
13) Try a management platform
I personally use Tweetdeck to keep track of my lists in columns which helps me to see who’s doing what rather than it all whizzing by me in one long stream. Although you can schedule tweets with Tweetdeck, Buffer App give you analytics and suggestions plus you can post to Facebook and LinkedIn a well.
14) Don’t spend all day on there
If you use Buffer to schedule around five or so tweets each day, you can have an online presence without spending your life on Twitter. Download the Twitter app to your phone so you can see if you need to reply to anyone, then just pop on when you’ve got a minute and get chatty.
Most business people don’t want to talk business at the weekend so I only schedule business stuff for weekdays and save most of my nonsense and more casual banter for the weekend.
15) Think about duplicate content
Some people recommend using Buffer to schedule the same content to all your social media platforms at the same time. Whilst this does save time, and I often do this myself, I also take the time to amend some updates to match the platform and to not be constantly posting duplicate content across platforms. This one is up to you but it can be seen as being a bit lazy.
16) Explain your job
Make sure people who look at your profile can see what it is you actually do for a living. I’m sure you’ve seen ‘that face’ when you tell people what your job is, so use the small amount of characters they give you to make it very clear what your value is along with a link to your website or LinkedIn profile.
17) Optimise your mug for mobile
As well as having a clear, friendly profile image, you should check that you don’t look like a blurry freak when viewed on a small device. Up to 80% of Twitter users are on mobile devices so it’s worth sorting this, and you should use the same photo on all your profiles so people can spot you at a glance.
Here’s a really good article on how to optimise all the images you can use on your profile.
18) Get pinning
By pinning a tweet to the top of your profile, you can not only provide more info about what you do for people, but you can also promote an event, display a discount code, share an announcement or give a call to action.
Be creative and use it wisely.
19) Bring your branding across
Because you can change all the colours as well as the header image, you can ensure your branding is consistent across all your platforms. I have more of a generic theme and header image but that’s because I run two other businesses as well as the VA Handbook site!
20) Adhere to Wheaton’s Law and don’t be a dick
It’s really important to add value on Twitter because there are a lot of people talking nonsense. There are spammers, bots, bores, people who just post inspirational quotes that make you want to be sick in your own mouth, and others who just broadcast and never interact with anyone. So ignore them all, learn from the good Twitter users, then try to become one of them.
- Follow me on Twitter
- New to Twitter? Here’s a great article by the guys at Buffer on Twitter tips for beginners.
- Here’s another great one on how to create the perfect Twitter profile.
- I have a Twitter Essentials course if you want a really comprehensive course that covers the lot.