You honestly never thought this day would come. You thought that crazy lil' blue bird was a fad. Something that would fly away and you could move on with your day job.
Nope, that lil' blue bird is still live and kickin'! Crazy thing is you are starting to see the power of the blue bird and it's friends. You are seeing people you never thought would jump on Twitter, love it. You are seeing other CEOs, CMOs and even your best friend nurturing relationships. Some of them even have Hootsuite on their iPhone. Worst part is they know how to use it, and you don't!
No worries. We got you covered! Here are the top 15 things you must do before you hop on Twitter.
15 Things Every CEO, CMO, CTO & CIO Must Do Before Hopping on Twitter
1. Have a plan. This post is going to assume that your company has already developed a social media plan inclusive of goals and objectives and that you “jumping on Twitter” is part of that plan. I highly discourage you as a CEO or CMO to jump on Twitter as only a random act of marketing. Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs) will eat every last morsel of social ROI for breakfast, so be careful. I have written plenty of blog posts on this topic, some of which are linked at the bottom of this post.
2. Slow down to speed up. The last thing you want to do is rush on to Twitter without a plan or knowledge of how to properly use and engage your audience. Embrace imperfect perfection but take time to know where you are going and why. If your company does not have a social media policy, social media plan and nobody else in your office is tweeting, you may want to take the time to implement some basics before jumping in heads first. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
3. Balance social media tech with art of engagement. Chances are you have at least a little bit of geek in you. Even a small % of geek is going to want to go all in on the tech. Yes, you must eventually learn the tools and technology of social media. However, the art of proper engagement is just as much if not more important. So, don't jump in head first thinking you know it all just because you know how to send a tweet. Take time to know your audience, develop your brand strategy, implement a content plan and follow the steps on this list prior to kicking your Twitter efforts into high gear.
4. Review your social media policy and PR crisis plan. If you do not have a social media policy, I would add the development of such to the priority list. Your policy should include at minimum guidelines for Twitter user name selection, ownership of Twitter handles, possibly PR crisis management, escalation procedures and more. We can help you write one for your organization if you need help and / or don't know where to start.
5. Setup a test account. You don't have to tell anyone you do this. Use your home email and your nick name. This will give you a chance to play with it a bit and get a feel for it. If you are brand new to Twitter, don't spend too much time on this as you may get overwhelmed. However, if you are a geek at heart and like to play with tech, then this may be a great way to get your birdie feet wet in the social waves.
6. Choose a user name. Select a user name that describes you. Depending on your social media policy your Twitter account may or may not be the property of your company. Depending on your social media policy and guidelines for Twitter account names you may need to adhere to them.
7. Select your profile photograph (avatar.) You will need a photograph of yourself to use as your avatar. Do NOT use the default egg that Twitter sets as default when you setup your account. If you do this everyone will know you are a newbie. You also may not get many followers as many people will not follow “eggs.” Use a recent photo. Do not use a photo from your High School graduation or a photo your son added big fake muscles via Adobe Photoshop. We all want to see the real you, muscles or no muscles!
8. Complete your Twitter bio and profile information. Fill in your Twitter bio, location and url. Don't wait until the day you are ready to tweet to do this. Take the time to coordinate with your CMO and hopefully marketing team. If your social media team has their act together they should have already done this for you and hopefully given you the opportunity to approve the content.
9. Develop a personal brand strategy. You need to develop your own personal brand strategy and architecture. It may sound crazy if this is your first time doing such. However, I can't stress enough how important this step is. You must know who you are, what you are and what you have to offer your followers and community. Your personal brand should represent who you are while also supporting your organization's overall brand architecture. You need to decide how personal you want to get with your followers. What and how much do you want to share about your personal life, hobbies etc. We consult with businesses of all sizes and their leaders on personal brand strategies and plans. If you need help with this step, please call us. We can help guide you through the selection of the right answers to the questions above and help you develop a personal brand architecture that represents you and makes your organization proud!
10. Develop a content plan. Your content plan should include content that is both personal and professional. Your marketing and social media team should be able to help you with professional content to properly represent your business. Ask them for a copy of the editorial calendar and key themes they are using for content. If they don't have this information then tell them they should work on it pronto. Engaging in social media inclusive of Twitter without a plan is a recipe for disaster.
In regard to personal content, start with a list of your hobbies, interests, favorite sports, and anything else you would feel comfortable sharing with the world. Brainstorm your favorite activities. Select the top 3-5 activities and then start a spreadsheet or other document noting the types of content you could write about. This could include favorite workouts such as P90x, favorite gym workout or spin classes, favorite books, favorite authors or even weekly golf outings. Or maybe you are a foodie and like to cook. People love to see and learn about food on the social networks so sharing favorite dishes or links to recipe could help you could connect with other folks who have similar interests.
You will be amazed at the return on investment for content development if you take the time in this area. Social media really is one big conversation.
Bonus Tip: Quotes are the #1 retweeted content on Twitter. One easy way to start providing inspiration in your Twitter stream is to tweet quotes from your favorite authors or business leaders. Be sure to add #quotes to the end of your tweet so those looking for tweets will find it!
11. Think value! Ask yourself this question… “how can I add the most value to my following?” Your goal should be to add as much value to the conversation as possible! Think of it in the same way you do your business. As a CEO, CMO, CIO, CTO or CXO of any sort you probably have a goal to provide as much value as you possibly can to your stakeholders, partners, team members, shareholders and customers. Social media is no different. The more value you provide, the higher your return will be, period. Don't over complicate it.
12. Get real with your time investment. You must be realistic with how much time you have to invest in social media including Twitter. Do you have five, ten, or fifteen minutes per day? The amount of time you have over a given week will guide where and how you spend your time. If you need help with a plan to best leverage your time, call us. We can help you maximize every minute spent.
13. Do a quick skill set analysis. You don't know what you don't know, period. Just because you don't know how to Tweet doesn't make you're a dumb bird! Trust me, even without knowledge of Twitter you are still smarter than half the tweeting fools out there! Be honest with your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning social media, the art of engagement and how to bring the most value to your audience and your business. If you have gaps and need training then identify them and obtain the necessary training. Hire a social media coach or consultant to help you. We help many executives learn social media and help them ramp quickly so they can better lead their teams and obtain the highest possible ROI from their efforts.
14. Listen and learn. The best way to learn how Twitter works is to tweet. The second best way is to watch other people tweet. This is why I recommended in step #5 to setup a test account. Test accounts are a great way to both tweet and watch people tweet without jeopardizing your own brand or being embarrassed about making a mistake. When you start watching, listening and learning pay close attention to the tone of conversations, language used, technology used etc. The more you watch and listen the more all of the above will make sense to you.
15. Say this out loud 3 times… “I am not afraid to Tweet!” Know that everyone makes mistakes. You are not the first and definitely lot the last executive to “hop on Twitter.” There will be plenty more right behind you who have the same apprehensions you do. The more you accept that everything is not going to happen overnight, the quicker you will succeed. Jump in head first but with your head on. Don't jump in head first and leave your common sense on the deck. Jump in with a plan and a safety net inclusive of a social media policy, content plan and a Plan B should things go wrong.
What You Say?
Are you new to Twitter? Have you been holding off on jumping on Twitter? If yes, what is holding you back? Did these tips help motivate you to get started? What other questions do you have? If you are an executive who has already “been there and done that,” what advice can you offer others who are just starting out?
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