Personal Branding Depends More Than Ever On Twitter

Twitter bird logoIn honor of Labor Day, it seems a good time to pose a question:

Is social media work?

If you spend a lot of time on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the rest, your honest answer is probably yes. The more important question may be whether it’s a job you love or one you perform because you’re company requires it. Just like anything else that demands near constant attention to master, the pleasure you derive from posting is likely tied to how good you are. People don’t want to suck at anything. And they certainly don’t want to fail.

Landmark study on Twitter and the news

We all should care about getting better at this social media thing because our careers depend on it. Unless you work at the post office or drive a truck, chances are you’re already evaluated on the basis of whether you are comfortable representing your business or brand in the social space.

To that end, the findings of a new study about Twitter is worth your time.

If we needed any more evidence that journalists should take Twitter seriously, this is it.

Twitter paid for the research, which was conducted independently by the research firm DB5 and interpreted by the American Press Institute.

Here are some of the most interesting takeaways for news organizations and the people who work for them:

Girls on the Phone

  • Twitter users tend to be heavier news consumers, compared to the rest of the social media crowd.
  • Nearly 9 in 10 Twitter users are looking for news. 74% do so daily.
  • Fully 94% of Twitter news users get their news either through scrolling their timelines or browsing tweets of those (journalists) they follow. Search is secondary.

What info are they looking for?

It turns out people have a fairly wide curiosity about what’s going on. Folks were given a list of a couple dozen topics and asked which they recall paying attention to in the previous week. Here are the top 10, which is part of the report on the American Press Institute website:

News Topics Twitter

legend of Twitter report

People may use Facebook to satisfy that emotional fix or for practical help, but it’s clear they turn to Twitter when the story is unfolding or needs analysis. And that’s precisely when hash tags perform their magic. More than half of Twitter users say they depend on hash tags to follow up on the breaking news and information in the categories above.

Live trucks at news scene

Do you get your news from a person or a company?

More Twitter users follow individual journalists, writers and commentators (73%) than institutional accounts (62%). People referred to “discovering” journalists and other experts on Twitter then seeking them out other places.

This is HUGE and points to the need for you to chart your own path and personality online. Where you work is certainly part of your brand, but on Twitter at least, news consumers understand that individuals break the stories and offer that different perspective — not media companies and agencies. Over time, that one-on-one relationship becomes personal.

For the full study, head over to the American Press Institute website.

So what does this mean?

The number one piece of advice from the American Press Institute (to publishers) is “Get your journalists on Twitter.”

I’ve had media people ask for my help when they haven’t used Twitter in more than a year (or ever). I can’t help you if that’s the case. No one can.

Boy in swimming pool

Twitter is like swimming

You can’t learn without getting in the water. And yes, you are going to look fat in the bathing suit. So just check your ego, try new things and do your best to have fun. The thrill of knowing you’re building an audience will ease the sting of those inevitable awkward moments and may even lead to a better salary.

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