Maximizing Twitter to Build a Personal Brand

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We’ve all seen countless personal brands on Twitter. Some of them are pretty good and some of them are great. But what do great personal brands do to get so much exposure on Twitter? This week on #TwitterSmarter, we wanted to talk about how personal brands can use the platform and get the most out of their daily activities. We invited social media and personal brand coach, Katie McKiever to discuss personal branding.

Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Katie McKiever
Topic: Maximizing Twitter to build a personal brand
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What’s the difference between a personal brand and a business brand?

The easiest way to differentiate the two is to think of who faces the audience. If you’re a personal brand, you’d interact on social media as yourself, but if you’re a business brand, you’d engage on behalf of a logo and the business itself.

Masooma put it another way, along with examples. If you’re a one-person or a small-team business, like a consultancy, coaching, or service-based business, you’d have a personal name attached to the business and you can always engage with your customers on a personal—and often first name—basis. Bigger organizations with traditional hierarchies and decision-makers tend to have a business brand, where the business speaks for itself.

Q2: Should personal brands have a Twitter presence?

It’s important to be realistic. Even though Twitter is a great way for personal brands to establish themselves and grow a stable following, it also largely depends on the type of your business, your industry, your location, and your ideal audience. While Twitter is effective as a medium, if it doesn’t make sense for you to be on it, you don’t need a presence.

On the flip side, Chris argued that having a Twitter account can still give you a competitive advantage and serve as a customer service channel.

Our friends from NOW Marketing Group affirmed that idea, adding that because Twitter is such an efficient way to build relationships and network with a large group of people, it also helps with building awareness and generating leads. It could be a small side channel that gives you a handful of leads every month, in addition to your major sources.

All that said, though, if your audience isn’t on Twitter, I’d suggest not investing too much in it, especially if you’re a one-person or a small-team business. Maintaining an active and successful Twitter account takes a lot of time and effort, and if you’re already strapped for resources, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. Focus instead on developing the channels you have engagement in.

Q3: What’s the best social media channel for personal branding?

There’s no one right answer to this one. Many people agree that Twitter is the best one for them, but there’s an equally strong case for LinkedIn and Instagram as well. If a majority of your audience is in a country like Australia where Facebook and Instagram are the most prevalent social channels, Facebook would make sense for you too. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s where your audience is.

Lance explained that your ideal social channel would vary depending on your type of business as well. For instance, if you design mobile phone covers, Instagram and Pinterest might be better options than LinkedIn.

Q4: Share some Twitter branding tips for beginners.

The first rule of building a personal brand is to make sure people can recognize you. How? Your profile picture. Don’t be an egg, show your audience who you really are and tell them what exactly you can do for them. If possible, use a professional headshot for your profile picture and a clear statement in your bio.

Dewi pointed out the value of using branded colors. He reminded us all how Christine, our chat regular and Madalyn’s co-host for the #TwitterSmarter after chat on Spaces (5pm ET—join us!), uses a particular shade of vibrant red that’s now synonymous with her.

Rachel from Express Writers told us about one of the most important things to remember when building a personal brand: never give up. It’s going to take longer and much more effort than you expected at first, but don’t let that derail your focus.

Q5: How does Twitter fit into a personal brand’s overall social media strategy?

Twitter is your way to meet new people and network with them. That’s its key role in your social media strategy.

What you share on Twitter depends on your goals and how you leverage Twitter to achieve them. As Madalyn said, use Twitter as a tool to guide your social media goals. For example, if you want to grow your audience in a particular state or town, engage with people who live in those areas and see what conversations interest them most. That could be your research, and you can then build your future content plans based on what you learn. If you’re a baker and you want to capture the attention of a small coastal town, you could perhaps introduce a range of fish-themed cookies. Twitter can tell you if that community would like the cookies or if they’d prefer fish rolls instead.

In addition to that, Twitter is also an easy and instant way to know what’s going on across the world. Every major news media, journalist, and influential figure is on Twitter, sharing breaking stories from all over the globe. Use that information to inform your social media content and personalize it to your industry and audience.

Q6: How often should you audit your personal brand on Twitter?

It differs from person to person, but our guest recommends auditing your profile at least once a year. This will give you a chance to update any details about your job, life events such as moving to a new city, any strategic changes in your business like your goals and upcoming campaigns so that you can set the right expectations for your customers and audience. Many of our #TwitterSmarter chat members suggested quarterly audits because they give you enough information to analyze your progress but it’s also not too much that you’re overwhelmed.

Jennifer told us about how she audits her profile. She looks through her analytics dashboard every month to understand how her content is performing month-on-month. This can be stressful to some people because it means you’re looking at lots of fluctuations, but at the same time, it can also tell you early on how well your current campaigns are working. It gives you the opportunity to make small changes periodically so you can test new ideas without it hurting your brand. However, remember that Jennifer is a social media pro—if you think monthly audits are a bit much for where you are at the moment, don’t do it. Do only what’s right for you and your brand.

Q7: What should personal brands look for when auditing their Twitter profile?

As people, we change every day, even in the smallest of ways. When you audit your profile, note down what’s changed for you as a business and person since your last audit. This could include your goals, your business conditions, links, target audience, and content. Identify and update them so that they reflect your current status. If your audience demographic has changed, make sure you’re updating not only who you’re following but also public lists you’ve subscribed to and lists you’ve created.

Adding to that, Cindy reminded us to refresh pinned tweets as well. Then, look at what’s worked for you in the past and try to understand why it’s been so successful. That’ll help you replicate your success in the future.

Q8: Name some inspiring personal brands we can all learn from.

Katie’s favorites include Latesha Bryd, Gary Vee, Rachel Rodgers, and Stephen Art. Have a look at their profiles to see what they’re doing well, and how you can interpret them for your brand.

Yatharth also vouched for Gary Vee (Well, who wouldn’t? His social media use is inspirational), as well as Christina Garnett. Christina’s been on our chat a few times and is also a community manager for HubSpot—look her up too.

Other favorites included Alexa Heinrich, Christine Gritmon, Janet Machuka—all of whom are familiar faces to the #TwitterSmarter community—and of course, our own Madalyn Sklar.

Well, that’s all from me, folks. Thanks a lot for reading through, and for more great insights from our chat with Katie, check out this Twitter thread. If you found value in this summary, let us know! We’d love to hear what you think. Even better—join us live for the next #TwitterSmarter chat. We hang out every Thursday at 1pm ET. See you then!

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About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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