Should your Twitter account reflect your personal life, or your professional expertise? Arguably, the answer is “both” but it isn’t always easy to figure out how to balance the two identities.
At The Freelancer, Emily Gaudette explains how to create a Twitter feed that lets people know about your professional work while reminding them of all the reasons why they should like (and follow) you:
Your feed doesn’t have to read like a LinkedIn profile—in fact, make sure it doesn’t! You should post content you want people to like on Twitter, but you should also pepper your feed with opinions, insights, and updates on your professional activity.
Although her advice is specifically designed for freelancers and content creators, it’s applicable to traditional employees as well. Gaudette suggests using your Twitter bio to draw attention to your professional work while highlighting one of your personal interests, for example:
I also chose three primary keywords to describe my professional functions: two serious (editor, podcast host) and one playful (dungeon master). Although it doesn’t help assigning editors to know that I’m a proficient Dungeons and Dragons player, it does enhance their overall understanding of my “personal brand.”
After reading Gaudette’s advice, I updated my Twitter bio—which now reads “Writer, editor, teacher. Freelance work at Lifehacker, Vox, Bankrate & more. Author of The Biographies of Ordinary People. Occasionally, people pay me to sing.”
This accurately reflects what people will get if they follow me on Twitter; links to my freelance work and upcoming classes, updates on the novel I’m drafting, and jokes about the music I’m currently rehearsing.
In a world where employers and potential clients regularly use social media as a way to connect with—and vet—people they might work with in the future, having a social media presence that reflects both your professional and personal life can be a huge career boost.
If my Twitter revealed nothing but a stream of links to my articles, for example, I’d come across as super-impersonal (and boring, which is not great for a person who wants to earn money as a writer).
My Twitter is still far from the best it can be, though; I don’t publish a lot of images, and although I often retweet and share other people’s work, I don’t always provide the personal insight that turns a simple retweet into a moment of connection.
If this all sounds like extra work, well… it is. But think of it as a new version of small talk; the necessary minutes you spend away from your desk and its to-dos, swapping workplace-friendly stories with the other people on your team.
It’s just that on Twitter, your team includes everyone in both your professional and personal spheres—as well as anyone else who might end up liking your work and deciding to follow along.